Wednesday, January 24, 2007

NYC: Scanners for Tracking City Workers

New Scanners for Tracking City Workers By SEWELL CHAN

The Bloomberg administration is devoting more than $180 million toward state-of-the-art technology to keep track of when city employees come and go, with one agency requiring its workers to scan their hands each time they enter and leave the workplace. The scanning, which began in August at the Department of Design and Construction, has created an uproar at a generally quiet department that focuses on major city construction projects.

At a City Council hearing yesterday, several unions vowed to resist the growing use of biometrics — the unique identifying qualities associated with faces, fingers, hands, eyes and other body parts. The unions called the use of biometrics degrading, intrusive and unnecessary and said experimenting with the technology could set the stage for wider use of biometrics to keep tabs on all elements of the workday. The use of new tracking technologies has been contentious at more and more workplaces. At Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, nurses carry radio-frequency identification tags that allow their movements to be tracked, a practice the nurses protested in an arbitration proceeding. A lawyer for the hospital, David N. Hoffman, said the system was used to ensure the quality of patient care and not to keep track of nurses who are on breaks.

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