Smart Attendance Monitoring

Problem

Problem

Currently, in majority of the facilities across Pakistan, attendance is recorded on paper and maintained in file folders or registers. This process is not only inefficient but has proved to be a deterrent to staff members and is susceptible to forgery which raises concerns regarding its authenticity. Moreover, it only results in an additional financial constraint of staff employment without achieving the desired objectives. In addition, it also leads to more absenteeism which creates more burdens for the staff which is present. The current attendance monitoring system is manipulated by people for their own benefit and it rarely presents accurate information. Entry and exit times are unreliable and non-verifiable.

Research

According to Callen et al. (2013) technology can be used to effectively improve ‘Monitoring of Monitors’ at public health facilities. It can address misreporting of absence and increase employee presence at facilities. The use of smart phones can also allow for documentation through an automated process, making staff supervision effective, which can in turn increase the overall efficiency of public sector facilities. Also, Duffalo et al. (2010) tries to test whether monitoring and financial incentives can reduce the absence of teachers. The study successfully found a direct relation between the financial incentives and monitoring of attendance.

Solution

Recent technological strides have made it possible to produce innovative and cost effective ideas to cater to the problem of absenteeism in public facilities. One possible solution is the use of low-end smart phones combined with a custom made mobile application that uses unique identification methods. After experimenting with face, voice and face recognition a comparative analysis was done and we were successful to adapt the face recognition system which proved to be the most efficient among the three. Pilot testing of this system show its potential as an alternative check and balance system.

Process

attendance

1. A list of all the staff members is generated which includes staff member’s name, National Identity Card (CNIC) number and phone number through an android application in a smart phone. Present staff members are selected in this list.
2. Group picture of the present staff is taken to mark the daily attendance through the smart phone camera.
3. The filled form and the picture is sent to the server over the Internet.
4. The attendance is marked and faces are recognized on the server. The results are processed and stored.
5. The results are viewable on a dashboard accessible over the internet by relevant officials.

Key Findings

The supervisors in Sheikhupura and Gujranwala, which are both our pilots, reported that a number of staff members started reaching on time as compared to before. The system has encouraged an overall decrease in the absences at the workplaces where it was introduced. This intervention has also introduced a placebo effect. Regardless the system is faulty or working, it encourages compliance and helps achieving the desired effect. People themselves want to take the plunge in exploiting the benefits of the available technology. Feedback from the people involved in the pilot testing of this system substantiates our claim of this system’s organizational necessity. Moreover, overall willingness of its stakeholders in its deployment is very encouraging.