App to automatically register presence in FSE buildings

Photo by Reyer Boxem

App to automatically register presence in FSE buildings

The Faculty of Science and Engineering wants to automatically register staff members’ presence in its buildings using Eduroam. This means the existing app FSE Presence will have to be adjusted.

3 June om 9:54 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 3 June 2020
om 13:59 uur.
June 3 at 9:54 AM.
Last modified on June 3, 2020
at 13:59 PM.


Christien Boomsma

Door Christien Boomsma

3 June om 9:54 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 3 June 2020
om 13:59 uur.
Christien Boomsma

By Christien Boomsma

June 3 at 9:54 AM.
Last modified on June 3, 2020
at 13:59 PM.
Christien Boomsma

Christien Boomsma

Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
Volledig bio
Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
Full bio

Faculty of Science and Engineering staff members who are still in buildings like Nijenborgh 4 or the Linnaeusborg, buildings which both have large laboratories, have to register their presence through a website or the app FSE Presence. This is to ensure that emergency workers know where people are if something happens. In reality, however, people rarely register. 

‘The system isn’t working properly. It’s really people-dependent’, says biochemist and faculty council member Andy Thunissen. ‘I have the app on my phone’, says faculty council chair and astronomer Mariano Mendez. ‘But almost no one uses it.’ 

The faculty is now working on a new version that will use Eduroam checkpoints. Employees will only have to log on to the WiFi network once; after that, the system will automatically register their presence. The CIT also hopes to use the information to determine where in a building everyone is. 

Respect privacy

The faculty council said the idea in and of itself was a pretty good one. ‘In terms of safety, it’s important to know where people are in the building’, says Thunissen. ‘But it’s important to respect the users’ privacy.’

He doesn’t need to worry about that, according to FSE security expert Theodora Tiemersma-Wegman. ‘You can’t make an app without taking those privacy concerns into account.’ This means the app will not use any personal information while detecting the presence of staff members. The data collected will not be saved anywhere and will only be made available to the people who really need it. ‘On top of that, the app only works in FSE buildings. It won’t detect anyone logging on to the Eduroam network in, say, Rome.’

That still doesn’t mean that everyone will be using the app all the time. ‘Some people just object to it on principle’, says Thunissen. ‘We emphasised how important it is to get this right.’ Besides, says Thunissen, the app should be the only system. ‘It’s important that people have the ability to opt out.’ 

Principled objections

Tiemersma-Wegman can’t say yet whether using the new app will be mandatory. ‘We haven’t quite figured that out yet.’ She is aware that there will be people who forget their phone, people who don’t even own a smartphone, or people who object to being registered on principle. ‘No system is airtight’, she emphasises. ‘But this would be such a step forward that we want to develop it.’

Right now, they’re doing a test in the FSE buildings to determine whether the Wi-Fi network covers every nook and cranny. Tiemersma-Wegman hopes to be able to implement the app as soon as possible. Especially in these times of corona, it’s important to know how many people are in the buildings and where they are. She can’t name an exact date for the implementation. ‘But we’re trying for October.’

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