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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Can Aadhaar-based attendance solve the issue of faculty and employee absenteeism?

In 2016, during regular inspections at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, authorities found 903 fake faculty members. There were 903 fake ID cards with names of faculty members appearing in more than one engineering college.
In certain cases, a faculty member was found to be working in nearly ten colleges at once.
And not just in JNTU, the problem of fake faculty and fake teachers is a widespread issue across the country.
Teacher absenteeism in schools, especially in some government schools in rural areas has been an issue for a while. There are several instances where teachers do not show up to work or send someone on their behalf.
Some states such as Uttar Pradesh have even gone to the extent of putting up pictures of "real" teachers on walls in an attempt to check the problem of fake teachers.
Over the years, the attendance system has been evolving. Today, biometric attendance system is quite popular where every teacher, faculty or even an employee punches in his fingerprint to register his attendance. Nearly every organization and institution has a biometric attendance system today.
But this method isn’t fool-proof either. Anyone’s fingerprint, such as the peon, can be registered in the system under one’s name.
One solution that is being considered to keep attendance in check is an Aadhaar-based attendance system.
The central government has already implemented this for all its employees.
National Informatics Centre (NIC) Department of Electronics & Information Technology Government of India has implemented what is called the Aadhaar-enabled biometric attendance system (AEBAS). Every central government official today has to give his or her attendance on the AEBAS.
State governments too, are looking at adopting this system and several states are running proof of concepts.
This is a concept that can be adopted not just by the government but across schools, colleges and corporate offices.
And for startups working in the Aadhaar space, this is an opportunity to cash in on.
JNTU, for example, has now adopted an Aadhaar-based attendance system to weed out fake faculty and improve faculty attendance in its colleges.
And this system for JNTU has been built by a Hyderabad-based T-Hub startup Syntizen.
Syntizen is an Aadhaar-based service provider. Right from authenticating identity, eKYC to an attendance system, it has a host of services based on Aadhaar.
“A simple biometric system for attendance can be tampered with. There are many instances where an employee puts one of his fingerprint and one of the office boy. In such cases, while he skips work, the office boy marks attendance for him. Many universities face this problem too. For this, we have developed a real-time Aadhaar-based authentication to mark attendance,” says Vamsi Kotte, CEO, Syntizen.
When a teacher, faculty puts their fingerprint on the sensor, his Aadhaar details are generated real-time.
These devices are even GPS enabled. The system has the PAN and Aadhaar services integrated into the system which ensure there is no duplication.
There is a central dashboard where the employer can monitor the system.

Syntizen’s first client for this was JNTU where it has helped identify several fake employees and has improved attendance.
It has so far implemented this for 83,000 faculty members in JNTU and has done around 15 lakh authentications as on date.
“Since we implemented this Aadhaar-based attendance, there has been a tremendous increase in regularity of faculty of JNTU. In fact, we are in the phase on implementing this for Osmania University and are talking to several of our existing clients, corporates to implement this,” says K Siddharth, CFO.
 Syntizen has recently won a tender from the Telangana government to build, operate and manage the government’s Aadhaar Server Agency (ASA) to cater to all of the government’s Aadhaar requirements. Telangana wants to integrate Aadhaar into all its departments and start rolling out Aadhaar-based services, for example buying from ration shops using Aadhaar-based authentication.
As part of this contract, Syntizen will also be managing the attendance of all Telangana government employees.
When it comes to Aadhaar, the biggest debate has always been the security aspect of it, given that recently, personal data of over one million Aadhaar card holders was leaked.
“If the security practies in a company aren’t up to the mark, there are risks of people’s thumb impressions being accessed by third parties. Another part to this is that with the government already using Aadhaar substantially for a host of services, when authentication is done data is made available to third parties, which gives them a high degree of insight and leads to data profiling of each person. You are not in control of your identity,” says Supreme Court Lawyer Apar Gupta.
And soon, the data generated by these things could be the basis for one’s insurance premium or even to get a credit card. Apar says that with Aadhaar being linked across databases, it gives any company building database a huge insight on your daily activity.
However, according to Syntizen, the company’s systems and technology is completely secure. It has gone through seven different security compliance levels and has even passed Computer Emergency Response Team (CertIn) audits.
“We have passed seven audits in the past three years. Since we deal highly sensitive information, we regularly conduct audits and ensure there are no vulnerabilities in its systems,” says Vamsi.
For every company or institution that employs this system, it costs about Rs 90 per user per year. Additionally, they have to procure biometric scanners costing between Rs 3000 to Rs 30,000.
With nearly every company today having a biometric attendance system, the opportunity out there is quite huge for Syntizen.
The T-Hub startup is in talks with other universities, colleges and even corporates to provide this service. It is also hoping to build it for other ASAs as a value added service to give them an edge over others.
However, the Aadhaar-based attendance system is just one of Syntizen’s array of services.
It has the Aadhaar-based authentication service, which is also the core of its attendance system.
To address the problem of compliance when opening a bank account, or obtaining a sim card, it has digitized the entire system. With just one’s Aadhaar number, fingerprint or Iris, it attempts to make these processes simple and quick.
It is running this currently in most banking and non-banking institutions. Syntizen also offers eKYC services. This helps in making the entire process of obtaining a loan, or opening an account paperless.
To add to this, it has a e-sign engine which gives instant electronic signatures valid in the court of law.
It has clients like Mannapuram Finance, Muthooth Fincorp, Indiabulls home loans, Angel Broking and more.
Syntizen has grand plans for the future as well. It is building India’s first KYC Gateway, which lets organisations get KYC of its customers from anywhere across the country, while meeting all regulators compliance.
While it says that it is already receiving interest from several parties on this, Syntizen is on the lookout of strategic partners and investors to roll out this futuristic plan.
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