Long Island school tests bar codes for emergencies

An elementary school on Long Island is trying out bar codes as a way to keep track of students during emergency evacuations.

Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge, N.Y., held a drill on the morning of April 23. Overseen by Hauppauge Schools security director Edward Spear, the faculty evacuated about 800 children onto 16 school buses, which took them to a nearby high school.

Stickers with bar codes were placed on the backs of the children's shirts as they left classrooms. When the students stepped off the buses, their bar codes were read by four people holding bar code readers and transmitted to a notebook computer for comparison against an attendance list.

'The evacuation went very well,' said Brian Lehmann, senior director of global government solutions for handheld-computer maker Symbol Technologies Inc. of Holtsville, N.Y. Symbol Technologies and software developer Computers by Design Inc. of Nesconset, N.Y., provided the equipment for the drill. Symbol provided the rugged handheld computers, wireless networking and data-capture equipment. Computers by Design supplied the software.

'It was one of the first events of that size,' Lehmann said, and all students were accounted for.

Each sticker held a Portable Data File 417 two-dimensional bar code, which was developed by Symbol. Although most of the tags were readable without problems, a few proved difficult to scan because they were wrinkled during transit, Spear said.

Lehmann said the tags could be placed on identification cards or book bags as an alternative to placing them on clothing.

Computers by Design plans to market the identification system to schools and companies, said Frank Cappuccio, president and CEO.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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