Evacuation Tracking: Accounting for Students, Employees with Barcode Scanning
Mustering systems that utilize an employee’s RFID badge can efficiently track the location of those badges if set up properly. However, the cost to implement RFID systems can be quite high for the RFID ID cards, the RFID sensor hardware and the deployment of those sensors (installation, power, maintenance, etc.).
We often get requests on how to turn the codeREADr barcode scanning app into a simple-to-deploy, low-cost evacuation headcount app to help administrators account for their students or employees during emergencies. In this article, we’ll give you helpful information and links for your testing and evaluation.
What does the codeREADr app offer?
- Real-time tracking of employees, students, contractors, etc. during emergencies
- Any / all authorized staff members can participate in the tracking process
- Your staff can scan with their personal smartphones and tablets and/or provisioned scanning devices
- You can use your existing IDs; if they are already barcoded, that’s ideal; if not, simply add a barcode label – new credentials are not required
- No hardware installation or new backend software is required
Any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet (or iPod Touch) that has a built-in, autofocus camera. The devices can be purchased and provisioned to authorized personnel (“app-users”) or they can use their own smartphones and tablets – it’s your choice.
Use the Free Plan to test. Annual licensing plans start at $499/year. That includes the use of up to 10 devices for scanning badges. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for higher volume pricing and consulting options for building your mustering services and training for editing/updating services, users, databases, etc.
1 – The IDs of the employees, students, contractors, etc. (“ID-holders”) should already have a barcode to scan. If they don’t, you can issue barcode labels to affix to their IDs or have them use a program like ID123 for a digital ID on their phones. While it’s possible to use the mobile app’s Lookup feature and not scan barcodes, that is usually if the ID-holder doesn’t have their ID with them for scanning.
Note: It is also possible to use RFID/NFC reading instead of a barcode scan if the ID has an embedded RFID/NFC chip and the scanning device is RFID/NFC enabled.
2 – A list (CSV file) of IDs should be uploaded in advance to the codeREADr servers – that takes less than a minute. Ideally that list would be the IDs and names of the ‘currently present’. That list could alternatively be all IDs and then be continuously reconciled during the emergency. See Create a Database below.
Note: You can alternatively manage your scan data by auto-exporting your scan records to third-party database programs, or use our APIs and Postback options to post scan records to your own servers or third party servers.
1 – Regular drills will make the mustering process more efficient.
2 – Assign specific mustering areas, ideally with each location sharing one or more characteristic ( a room, floor, building, etc.).
3- Assign administrators to be the ‘leader’ of a group of ID-holders mustering to a defined location.
4 -Time is often critical so the codeREADr app should be pre-installed on the phones or other iOS or Android OS devices that will be used for scanning. If not, it only takes minutes to download but it’s best to be prepared in advance.
5 – At least one person must familiar with using the codeREADr web service to manage data and update the database if required.
6 – Internet connectivity is an important consideration. You can set up codeREADr to work online if connectivity is stable or to work ”on-device” (offline) with Auto Sync in the background if there’s at least some connectivity for syncing scans and databases to our servers or yours.
With on-device scanning, validation is instant since there’s no Internet latency, so it is highly recommended for continuous scanning applications. Also, in the event that there’s no connectivity at all, the app can still scan and validate for uploading when connectivity is restored.
If the scanning devices are able to use your existing Wi-Fi system and the system is intact during an emergency, that is generally fine.
However, if a cellular network is the only access to the Internet for the device’s scanning, consider that many people could be trying to access the Internet simultaneously with their smartphones. Even that could be OK, but it is something to check and perhaps prepare alternatives. For example, a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot could be set up at each designated mustering location. If you do that, be sure to set up your app-user’s scanning devices to connect to that hotspot in advance.