Category: Blog


The debate on facial recognition – a safe and smart technology

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This month, we dive into the debate on facial recognition as a safe technology and how SchoolBench is adding value in this space.
Highlights this month are:

  • Facial recognition – a smart technology
  • Feature feedback from Trinity College
  • Reportage on EduTech Singapore
  • Our Kindle winner from St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School
  • Share your story

Facial recognition – a smart technology

Meaning: a noun; a machine or system capable of automated and seemingly intelligent operation.

One of the most frequent and common concerns raised by clients is the use of facial recognition in schools and whether this technology may encroach on the human rights of students – specifically, their privacy. Strong imagery and fear tactics point to facial recognition technology, in that it may be misused by some organisations or governments.

At SchoolBench, we take these concerns seriously and is at the heart of our solution. We often discuss this and the value it provides a school. Our approach has resulted in an ever-growing list of happy customers.

Key in this debate is that the information, data and referencing remains at the school. No outside organisations can access or use the information without the school’s consent. It is the school’s data, plain and simple, and no one owns or have any copyright over the images. This is a fundamental reason why SchoolBench is the superior choice.

It is important to remember why SchoolBench uses facial recognition in the first place.

Its purpose is threefold.

Firstly, facial recognition of images is used to protect the privacy of students who appear in images.

Additionally, the technology provides the school with a level of compliance in relation to Australia’s stringent privacy policies.

Lastly, it provides confidence to parents by automatically applying their media consent to each image of their child.

By using this technology as part of the solution, SchoolBench is contributing positively and proactively to ensure peace of mind, and media consent becomes a key property and identifier for all images in SchoolBench, not just today, but in years to come.

Should the law change, so will the stringent parameters of what information photos need to contain, to not only be publishable but also be searchable.

If the image has no clear permission level, you simply don’t use it in any external communications, be that social, print or other community media.

With the added security layer of the school owning all the images, the governance processes a school sets in place underpin how images are used. SchoolBench places that control into the hands of the marketers, business or school administrators responsible for using and publishing photos or videos.

SchoolBench policies about facial recognition satisfying Australia’s privacy laws, and parent consent has been an overwhelming driver and a key uptake reason for the product’s success.

Mr Kieren Fitzpatrick, Managing Director of Parashift and the company behind SchoolBench, said,

“While all organisations have a duty to ensure the privacy of Australians are kept at the forefront of their business dealing, facial recognition technology serves a tremendous purpose in streamlining the management and use of images by the thousands of schools in Australia for communication, business, marketing and community communication purposes. Like all technologies, there are risks, and SchoolBench has been designed to address these from the get-go.”

“The ability to use smart technology to provide our schools and parents with control on where and how student images are used is a primary focus for our clients and their governance process,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.

As an Australian solution, SchoolBench proves facial recognition of children in schools can have positive effects and provides privacy and safety for children and parents alike. The technology will grow and adapt according to the evolution of the product and in line with Australian privacy and human rights laws.

Your opinion counts, so if you would like to drop us a line on this subject, click here.

Feature feedback

This month we share the three most valued SchoolBench functions that Trinity College in Adelaide has found since adopting the solution in January 2019.

The pain points that are being overcome include:

  • not having to rename images and to encode metadata is resulting in an enormous amount of time being saved by the school.
  • One single system, that being one application, one repository, one place where all imagery is stored and accessed. In Trinity College’s own words, “So much better than images stored all over the place on all sorts of devices.”
  • Colour coding because an instant visual identifier of parental consent, or no consent or unknown consent, is just a mouse hover away. Quick, nimble and efficient.

What’s your favourite SchoolBench functionality?

Reportage – the Singapore report

Our team attended EduTech Asia earlier this month and what a show it was!

The SchoolBench stand “popped” in colour and activity as educators, marketers, technology staff and government personnel including our very own Austrade and Australian High Commission, stopped by to learn about SchoolBench, what is does, how and what this solution could mean for their school. We learnt a lot about our South East Asian neighbours’ media assets and record compliance needs. The conversations were fast and furious.

Client Director, Henri Guillaume, delivered an extremely well attended talk on day two of the conference: Photo and Video Management in the Age of the Internet. The evolution in media, volume of data, regulatory challenges and how to navigate this new paradigm were hot topics that elicited many questions. The talk was followed by many of the delegates making a beeline to the SchoolBench stand where interest piqued, business cards were exchanged and appointments booked for future discovery discussions.

Photo: The SchoolBench team in full swing at EduTech Asia 2019, Singapore

 

Needless to say, the conversations had and insights gleaned have opened greater awareness for SchoolBench’s application in the South East Asian region.

We know this because the team uncovered the same pain points schools in Australia have and are discovering and the risk associated with storage and use of student imagery needs to have the same risk factors overcome, regardless of geographical boundaries.

We are looking forward to showcasing SchoolBench’s versatility to an international audience regardless of geographical boundaries.

The winner is …

We had a very happy and radiant Alice Tidmarsh, Director of Marketing and Admissions at St Aidan’s Girls’ Grammar School in Brisbane, send us this photo recently. Alice attended and met us at the EducatePlus Brisbane conference earlier this financial year. We had an insightful discussion and demonstration. Post conference and hey presto, Alice’s business card was randomly selected as the lucky winner of our giveaway Kindle. Congratulations Alice!

 

Photo: Alice Tidmarsh is the lucky winner of a Kindle from our EducatePlus Brisbane conference stand. Congratulations Alice!

 

Share your story

We love hearing your stories about your digital media management experiences within your school community. What hurdles are you facing with your current photo library? Does your school even have one? Can you find what you need and fast? How has SchoolBench made your life easier? What else would you like SchoolBench to do?

If you have a success story you would like to share with the SchoolBench community, drop us a line.

By sharing you could win a Gold Class movie voucher for two, redeemable in your state.

SchoolBench – smart + simple + safe

SchoolBench media management tracking improvements

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Feature Updates

The SchoolBench community asks, and we continue to deliver. As part of the SchoolBench community, each school receives regular updates to features that are available as part of their subscription to this smart and safe media management solution. Much work has been done to ensure SchoolBench media management tracking capabilities are even more extensive.

We are pleased to announce version 11 of SchoolBench is available.


SchoolBench media management tracking improvements and a hot tip

Challenge
Have you ever been asked to find every photo a student has appeared in over their entire school history? Sounds like a time-consuming job without SchoolBench.

With the latest enhancement, you can easily capture and find photos of a student’s entire educational journey in seconds.

We have tweaked the tracking capabilities to enable images of a student to be captured across their years of involvement at the school. This hinges on the practice of making sure that the profile image, including newly introduced Reference Points, are tagged with the year they were taken in, for example, 2019.

When photographers take class photos, they don’t necessarily set the camera to the appropriate date and time. We have also found some student information systems stripping out the time and date stamp when the photo was taken.

TIP:      Remember to check the date when importing photos into SchoolBench and correct it as needed.

HOW:   Select all the current profile images, set the year in the Year Field which is located under the School Tab, in the Form View.

NEED HELP? Check your documentation first, send an email to Support, or bank it for your follow up calls.

 

Improvements to searching in the Virtual View

Finding what you need is one of the key benefits of using SchoolBench, so we have expanded the way you can laser in when searching your digital assets.

  • You can select multiple facets at once to filter your results:

 

 

  • You can also exclude facets when filtering results:

 

SchoolBench Media Management Tracking – Reference Points

Sometimes, you want to indicate that a student is in an image, but if the student’s image is blurry, you don’t want to make this a reference point as this would affect facial recognition accuracy results in the future.

We have now broken out reference points to their own status so you can clearly see what SchoolBench is using as reference points and manage them accordingly.

This means that if a reference point is blurry, you may want to remove it, but still state who the student is for future searches. Of course, you can still create reference points when verifying faces in photos:

 

The Bounding Box menus

You can now verify that students are in an image, without marking them as reference points, by right-clicking in the bounding box and verifying them.

If the face of the student is “a good one” (different stance from the profile image, in focus, etc), you may want to use it to train SchoolBench, by right-clicking on the bounding box, and selecting Verify and Create Reference Point:

 

The third option in the menu allows you to bulk verify students – see below.

Bulk Verify Faces

You can now verify faces in bulk for profiles, which is useful to resolve the “is this…?” bounding boxes.

 

To all our Customers, if you would like to view the full range of updates recently released, visit What’s New in the 11.0.0 Release in your online documentation when you upgrade.

 

Singapore Bound

We are crossing the great divide, flying over the Indian Ocean, across the Java Sea and pitching our exhibitor stand at this year’s EduTech Asia held on 5 and 6 November in Singapore.

SchoolBench is excited to announce the solution has national and international reach and application.

The versatility of SchoolBench enables a school to increase their productivity, security and governance, while vastly improving communication with their community.

At conferences, school staff approach us to learn more about how we can solve their pain points and show them what the solution can do for their school.
We are looking forward to demonstrating SchoolBench’s versatility to an international audience regardless of geographical boundaries.

We will be showcasing case studies completed for Pulteney Grammar School’s use of SchoolBench for their rich history and abundant archival collection and Seymour College’s approach to satisfying parental privacy concerns given the exponential growth in photos and videos.

 

Share your Story with Us

We love hearing your stories about your digital media management experiences within your school community.

What hurdles are you facing with your photo libraries? Can you find what you need in a timely manner?

How has SchoolBench made your life easier?

If you have a SUCCESS STORY you would like to share with the SchoolBench community, drop us a line.

By sharing you could win a Gold Class movie voucher for two, redeemable in your State.

 

 

SchoolBench – a smart, simple and safe solution to managing digital media for schools

 

 

 

Developments in video facial recognition and mobile app

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Video Facial Recognition
On average, the top mediums of communication used by schools, e-newsletters and social media, has brought ever increasing challenges for school professionals.
Did you know, that by 2022, Cisco research predicts that video will be 15 times higher than it was in 2017 and will represent 82% of all consumer internet traffic.
Additionally, a staggering 95% of the message is retained when video is used. This statistic denotes a move in communication from text and image to video, and is beginning to change the marketing and communication landscape, specifically for schools who are operating in an increasingly competitive market.

Mobile App
SchoolBench is soon to release a mobile application that aims to engage teachers and parents as an additional source of photo and video media production for your school.
SchoolBench in turn becomes the central point of storage for digital assets and retains the publishing permissions for any such submissions, using your SIS (Synergetic, TASS and many more) as the source of truth.
This means, if a family member captures a great photo of their child winning the relay on sports day, SchoolBench has the ability to apply the permissions on that child and any others in the photo or video, to protect the school, prior to sharing.

Together with video facial recognition, we are in the process of developing and fine tuning these developments. 

Great news! – Edumate Integration
SchoolBench has completed yet another successful integration with the student information system, Edumate. Roseville College and St Lukes Grammar in NSW are using SchoolBench to manage their digital assets (video and photos).

What does this mean? 
In addition to Synergetic, TASS, Simon, Maze and PC Schools, schools that now use Edumate can now provide student data automatically to SchoolBench for your images and movies including student identification, media consent and even identifying the activity from your calendar.

Share your SchoolBench story
The team at SchoolBench is working hard to provide regular enhancements by engaging with and understanding the challenges faced by schools. We love hearing your stories about your digital media management experiences within your school community.

If you have a success story you would like to share with the SchoolBench community, drop us a line. By sharing you could win a Gold Class movie voucher for two, redeemable in your state.

 

SchoolBench – A smart, simple and safe solution to managing digital media for schools

 

SchoolBench – The Caesar Augustus Release

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August, the month named after Rome’s first and arguably most successful emperor, Caesar Augustus. Parashift are pleased to confirm that SchoolBench v10.1.0 will soon be released and it includes a handful of awesome new features, all heavily requested by our growing list of client schools.

Colour Configuration
You can now specify colour coding for your assets in SchoolBench’s Admin Panel.
Easily match against field values such Media Consent, for a quick visual way to filter photos.

And the results view:

 

New Other Names
SchoolBench now captures alternative names that students and teachers may be known by, e.g. nicknames.

 

This allows you to specify Nicknames or other preferred names of profiles and use them when searching:

 

Shift + Click to select blocks of images
You can now shift + click to select blocks of items rather than clicking and dragging through them:



Version 10 has arrived!

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SchoolBench V10

Version 10 has arrived, and for all SchoolBench clients, simply visit the admin panel to upgrade to the latest release. Here’s a summary of the new features available, improvements, and two new student management systems that can integrate to SchoolBench.

Multiple Calendars are now supported

 

New Members to Integration Family

SchoolBench can now integrate two new SIS’, Edumate & PCSchool

 

Rendition Download

If you have defined a rendition in the admin panel, you can now download the rendition alongside the original:

 

HEIC and HEIF formats are now supported

 

Facial Recognition

 

Improvement

The system is now much less hungry on resources to run thanks to the creativity of our tech team!

 

Resizing of Photos

SchoolBench will resize photos that are too large when initially finding faces. We found that the RAM usage of large photos was causing the service to perform sluggishly with no added benefit.

After faces are found, the full resolution face is used for comparison.

 

Admin Panel

If you want to increase performance of face detection, you can now choose the number of tasks to run in parallel and size threshold:

The “Winter is Coming” Release

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Winter is coming SchoolBench release

Parashift will be launching version 9 of SchoolBench this week. Our move to more regular releases continues unabated and winter is no exception. For schools yet to joint the SchoolBench family, “as Ygritte said “you know nothing Jon Snow”.

The GOT inspired release includes two great new features and some minor bug fixes.

New Features

Information Continuity – Attach metadata from your original digital asset to derivative versions.

SchoolBench metadata mapping to derivative

Naming Captions – To assist the identification of multiple people in photos, SchoolBench now enables users to further classify people by location (e.g. row) as well as their position in the school e.g. student/teacher, all of which is then presented in a legend associated to the image

Naming Caption

Naming Caption

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EduTech Sydney June 6-7th 2019

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EduTech 2019

Parashift, the makers of SchoolBench will be at the 2019 EduTech conference in Sydney 6-7th June.

Come to our stand #541 and meet SchoolBench’s Technical Director, Peter Lesty for an insightful and deep dive into the technology being adopted by schools all across Australia, as well as hear what on the cards for the future.

Parashift’s EduTech 2019 Special Discount

 

SchoolBench Parent Portal is Released

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Designed by and for schools, the Parent Portal helps to build a closer rapport with your community by publishing more regularly a child’s educational journey, securely, safely and directly to their parents.

The Parent Portal can be provided to the school either as a standalone portal or embedded into your existing portal as an iframe.

To provide the school’s parent community with a seamless experience, the portal supports theming with the use of your School’s logo and colours. And with a simple and clean interface for parents, the portal automatically organises the photos by year and by child – handy for those families with multiple children.

Both automated publishing to parents and a more tailored approach can be adopted, with the community relations team curating the images before publishing.

SchoolBench’s Parent Portal connects the dots, by identifying the students through SchoolBench’s built-in facial recognition engine. Together with the student management system and event calendar integrations, children and their activities are identified and connected to their parents, all the while taking into account media consent, so that images featuring children with restrictions are not openly published.

To book a demo email us at contact@parashift.com.au or call 1300 769 809

 

SchoolBench Parent Portal

SchoolBench Parent Portal

 

Parent Consent – The Case for School Photo Management

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Parent and children reviewing photos

Communication teams are increasingly demonstrating the day-to-day value of their school through photos, and as the saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”.

This development has necessitated large amounts of time being spent trawling through a vast array of folders in Explorer or Finder. Feedback from our client schools has this between one to two days a week which also includes the manual task of correctly identifying the students so that parent privacy considerations can be applied.

Parashift’s research into photo school management and particularly the privacy views of parents has highlighted that parents’ concerns to privacy are in fact layered and speak more to control than actual risk.

When delving deeper into this, we found that parent concerns are greatly diminished with internal publications such as newsletters, bulletins and end-of-year books. Where they have the majority of concern is with public communication such as social media and traditional advertising, such as billboards. When we drilled down, the primary objection pertained to social media with fears of cyberbullying, predators (reinforced in regular news coverage) and special family situations

For school marketing with parents with highly restrictive requirements, we have found they too can often be used. A need for control has the parent imposing a restricted policy to the school; however, a personal request with an explanation of the image’s intended use, including the controls you have in place to protect the child will dramatically increase your chances. An example of a control is removing all metadata for identification reasons.

The simple permission classification of opt-in and out has the school limiting their creative content as well as their communities’ intimacy potential with the school. Surprisingly we found less than 3% of assets created are actually ever used.

In next month’s blog, we’ll cover off a multi-tiered permission approach when managing parental consent that takes into account the modern-day challenge.


SchoolBench Summer Release 2019 is here

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Summer Release

In case you didn’t notice, Summer is here! Anyway, we did, so it’s time for SchoolBench Summer Release to help you organise the new school year’s photos.

For clients, simply visit your Admin Panel tomorrow, and click the Updates button to receive access.

Here’s a summary what will be available, with more information made available in your online documentation.

 

         For the School Marketeers

Facial Recognition Management

  • Management of the bounding boxes for facial recognition has been made easier. Users can now make bulk changes to an image such as unassigning, removing and verifying people.

Event Suggestions

  • Like any busy school, sometimes events overlap. If SchoolBench is unsure about what event a photo relates to; it will provide you with a suggestion or a list of options should multiple events be on at that time.

Sort Order

  • Users can now edit their search results by sorting in the order of their preference.

SchoolBench Share Drive & Photoshop

  • Accessing your images in a Share Drive and applications like Photoshop has been overhauled, and now better reflects the folder and file layout you are familiar with.

Custom Tags Protection

  • Due to the growing usage of custom tags, SchoolBench now protects these amendable fields automatically when applying new custom tags.

 

     For the System Administrators…

 

Single Sign-on (SSO)

  • You can now implement SSO via Kerberos and Open ID Connect. This supports transparent login on premise and also using cloud providers like Azure AD and Google.

Nested LDAP Groups

  • LDAP now supports nested groups, so you can reflect your permissions and roles much easier.

Trigger LDAP Sync

  • Rather than waiting a day, you can now trigger LDAP Group/User Synchronisation from the Admin Panel whenever you make major changes.

 

Footnote: As SchoolBench is often an on premise solution; if you experience any issues upgrading due to your local environment, our support team is here ready to help. Merely log a ticket at support@parashift.com.au.