Read the latest news and blogs surrounding access control, time and attendance systems and integrated security solutions with Tensor plc.
Finns Unveil Plan
The Finnish presidency has unveiled its plan to break a long-term deadlock over the EU’s working time rules, suggesting a possibility for countries like Britain to keep their opt-out from the 48-hour weekly limit under stricter conditions. Speaking in Lahti, in the margins of an informal EU summit on energy and innovation, the Finnish social affairs minister Tarja Filatov told journalists that her government would try to convince the bloc’s leaders about its new proposal. Helsinki is the fifth country in the EU’s chair in a row trying to reach a deal on the working time ceilings, with Austrian predecessors commenting in June that the two camps that have emerged around the issue were "irreconcilable." While one camp – led by the UK and strongly supported by most "new" member states – claims people should be free to choose how much they want to work, the other group of countries – led by France – argue that it is primarily a matter of health and safety for employees not to get overworked. Under the EU’s current working time directive, employees cannot work more than an average of 48 hours per week calculated over a so-called "reference period" of 12 months, or they can plump for longer hours under an opt-out scheme which was secured by the UK. The new Finnish compromise suggests that countries could keep the opt-out under more rigid conditions for the reference period, so that employees could work a maximum of 60 hours a week calculated over just three months. If they do not make use of the opt-out, the Finnish plan suggests, they should benefit from the more flexible 12 month structure that gives them more freedom to factor in holiday periods and work-intensive seasons. A review of the currently applied working time law is needed following a 2004 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which said that the time some professionals spend "on call" should be regarded as proper "working time". The decision has direct implications for pay and rest conditions for doctors, other medical staff, firemen, social workers and some other professionals. Currently, three quarters of EU member states do not abide by the ECJ ruling, which prompted Brussels to propose a different definition of on call time and so change the working time directive. The European Commission is gearing up to take a legal action against most of them, with the Finnish minister urging that the national governments should try their best to avoid being taken to the court by agreeing to a revised directive. Last year, the then UK presidency suggested phasing out the opt-out in the future but some of its key critics – like France or Sweden – insisted on a clear date. The Finnish proposal also includes an idea of gradual ending of the opt-out – and points out that it should be treated as an exemption rather than as a rule – but leaves it up to the individual governments to tackle the matter in discussion with the social partners at national rather than EU level.
Turnstiles Tag Fans
Fulham FC has just become the latest in a long line of football clubs to have RFID enabled turnstiles installed at their ground. The new turnstiles are equipped with a smart card scanner, which reads the chip embedded in an RFID card. Each card has the added advantage of being contactless, so it doesn’t even need to be removed from your wallet or purse to be scanned. The smart card tickets that are issued to fans have an aerial and a chip, which contains data on football matches the carholder has paid for. Fans can easily update the cards over the phone or in person at the stadium ticket office. The introduction of the cards has not only cut queues at the turnstiles on match days, but has also increased safety around the stadium. What used to take 10-20 seconds per season-ticket holder on the turnstile is now cut down to 4 seconds. Fulham have followed in the footsteps of other league clubs including Coventry City, Manchester City, Reading and Wigan, all of whom have RFID enabled turnstiles at their grounds. Tensor install and maintain RFID enabled turnstiles, suitable for use within recreation facilities such as football grounds, health clubs, and athletics stadiums. Turnstiles are particularly popular at sports grounds due to their ability to cope with a high throughput of visitors. Built to ISO regulations, our RFID enabled turnstiles are available in any RAL colour as a special order at low prices.
No Barrier To Employment
It might seem extraordinary, but until recently British employers had total freedom to discriminate against their staff on the grounds of age. They could reject a job applicant, or turn them down for promotion simply because they were too old or too young. The new Employment Equality (Age) Regulations have changed all that. Age discrimination in the workplace – including ageist comments – is now outlawed. And employees will have the right to request to continue working after 65 (though employers don’t have to agree to it). The new rules are welcome and indeed long overdue, coming as they do four decades after the race equality laws. Unfortunately, employers aren’t celebrating as these new rules are set to tie them up in knots. Firms won’t be able to advertise for a "young, dynamic employee", "a recent graduate", or a "mature candidate". Keeping the elderly in work longer will merely encourage them to cling to jobs that the young would otherwise have. And if businesses do try to cut away the dead wood, lawyers will be the main beneficiaries. The US saw a 40% increase in employment cases when it’s Age Discrimination Act was introduced, and our Parliament hasn’t even voted on these constricting regulations. They are – as you may have guessed – the result of a diktat from the European Commission. We heard exactly the same sort of whingeing when the Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Acts were introduced, but this is an eminently sensible piece of legislation, giving due scope for what is called objective justification: genuine reasons for needing employees of a certain age. Gyms won’t be forced to recruit doddery old men; and firms looking for experienced executives will be able to turn down callow 18-year-olds. Doing away with ageism in the workplace is not just morally right, it’s a necessity. Life expectancy is rising and pensions are shrinking. Within 15 years, people over 50 will have to make up one-third of the entire workforce: the health of the economy will rely on convincing older workers that they’re not "passed it".
Tackling Counterfeiting With RFID
Counterfeiting is estimated to be a $450 billion industry worldwide. The need to protect product and brand integrity is set to become the new value proposition for RFID. Controlling the legitimacy and the brand integrity of a product in the supply chain has been a struggle for manufacturers. However, a new twist on using radio frequency identification (RFID) may provide an answer. Smart electronic security markers, based on RFID technology, are making an impact with item-level security and laying the ground work for this kind of protection in future applications. RFID tags embedded at the product item-level make it easier to guarantee authenticity and represent an increasingly important value proposition for RFID by protecting product and brand integrity. RFID fights counterfeiting with an embedded electronic security marker, identifying a product or brand, that is automatically read as it passes through the supply chain either individually or as a group inside a shipping case. Over the past ten years, Tensor have been at the forfront of implementing RFID smart cards within our visitor monitoring systems. By using RFID, each smart card has an electronic security marker embedded into it, which is encoded with a unique data set that by itself or in conjunction with a network, can distinguish the product as genuine. This marker is unique to the individual product and cannot be easily altered, providing an enhanced level of security. Smart electronic security markers based on RFID technology make it easier to authenticate a product as genuine, compared with current anti-counterfeit methods that require human intervention. While there are a number of measures that can be taken to protect brand integrity in the supply chain for pharmaceuticals and other high-value items, RFID offers the most potential of any technology on the market today. There is a range of increasingly secure methods of using RFID to prevent different types of counterfeiting, using both an off-network and on-network approach to enable "anywhere, anytime" authentication of tag data and thus identifying the product as legitimate. RFID has always been about providing consumer convenience, protection and security in applications as diverse as automobiles, toll tags and retail payment. Now, RFID authentication of individual items can protect both consumers and companies alike against counterfeit goods.
Six Hour Limit Implemented
Businesses were ordered yesterday to ensure that their staff took minimum rest periods, after existing guidelines were dismissed as "meaningless" by the European Court of Justice. The ruling means that employers must ensure that staff take off at least 11 hours between working days, and have a minimum of 1 day off a week, as well as a 20-minute rest after every 6 hours of work. Business groups said that employees would be unable to choose to work long hours to earn more money because they would be forced to take breaks against their will. Brussels have argued that the decision simply brought Britain in line with the rest of Europe. The ruling was an embarrassing defeat for the Department of Trade and Industry, which drew up guidelines in 1998 stating that employers merely had to advise staff that they were allowed certain rest breaks. European judges said yesterday that the DTI’s advice encouraged employers to break the rules about time off. These were agreed at a summit by all EU members, including Britain, as part of the European Working Time Directive . Syed Kamall, a Conservative MEP, said that the ruling would make Britain’s labour market less flexibile by preventing employees from choosing to work longer hours. "This is a kick in the teeth for British workers who may want to work longer hours to pay for extra bills or family holidays," he said. "While many people have a healthy work-life balance, others may choose to put in extra hours to achieve their ambitions. Telling British employers to send them home against their will is nonsensical." Employers fear that the ruling could leave them open to employment tribunal cases on alleged abuses of the directive. Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at the CBI, said: "The realities of working life cannot be ignored. Employers can’t stand over employees to make sure they take a full lunch or coffee break. Similarly, employers cannot police what employees do during their weekends or evenings – whether they take a second job, for example, or spend an hour or two thinking about a work issue. And employees do not want big brother looking over their shoulder to check what they are doing in their own time." But Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "Employers will now have to do their utmost to ensure their staff get the breaks they are entitled to. The Government must now change its guidance on rest breaks to ensure that workers know their rights and can benefit from them, and that employers know their responsibilities and meet them fully." The ruling from the court in Luxemburg stated: "The [DTI] guidelines are liable to render the right of workers to daily and weekly rest periods meaningless because they do not oblige employers to ensure that workers actually take the minimum rest period, contrary to the aims of the Working Time Directive."
Biometric Truths And Fictions
Biometrics are seductive: you are your key. Your voiceprint unlocks the door of your house. Your retinal scan lets you in the corporate offices. Your thumbprint logs you on to your computer. Unfortunately, the reality of biometrics isn’t that simple. Biometrics are the oldest form of identification. On the telephone, your voice identifies you as the person on the line. On a paper contract, your signature identifies you as the person who signed it. Your photograph identifies you as the person who owns a particular passport. What makes biometrics useful for many of these applications is that they can be stored in a database. Alice’s voice only works as biometric identification on the telephone if you already know who she is; if she is a stranger, it doesn’t help. It’s the same with Alice’s handwriting; you can recognise it only if you already know it. There are many different types of biometrics, including handwriting, voiceprints, and face recognition. There is also hand geometry, fingerprints, retinal scans, DNA, typing patterns, signature geometry, and others. The technologies behind some of them are more reliable than others, and they’ll all improve. "Improve" means two different things: First, it means that the system will not incorrectly identify an impostor as Alice. The whole point of biometrics is to prove that Alice is Alice, so if an impostor can successfully fool the system it isn’t working very well. This is called a false positive. Second, "improve" means that the system will not incorrectly identify Alice as an impostor. Again, the point of the biometric is to prove that Alice is Alice, and if Alice can’t convince the system that she is her then it’s not working very well, either. This is called a false negative. In general, you can tune a biometric system to err on the side of a false positive or a false negative. Biometrics are powerful and useful, but they are not keys. They are useful in situations where there is a trusted path from the reader to the verifier; in those cases all you need is a unique identifier. They are not useful when you need the characteristics of a key: secrecy, randomness, the ability to update or destroy. Biometrics are unique identifiers, but they are not secrets.
Let’s Get Physical
Small businesses have been warned not to lose sight of the physical security of their laptop computers in the rush to safeguard their IT assets from attacks on the network and over the internet. Statistics reveal that 2,000 laptops are stolen every day in Europe and a survey of small and medium sized businesses across Europe by IDC last year found a staggering 94 per cent had suffered from notebooks being stolen. There are a number of products available that can be used to enhance your laptop security, including biometric logon devices and physical locks designed to protect laptops from physical theft. A lot of emphasis has been placed on protecting your network from attacks but very few were taking steps to ensure that laptops could not be stolen, or hacked into following a theft. Many people think that it’s not a big deal to replace a notebook that costs Â£500, but some statistics suggest the cost of replacing a stolen laptop could be as high as £8,000 when you take into account the value of the data on the machine and the time taken to replace and reconfigure it. A survey conducted last year found 49% of SMEs took longer than two days to replace a stolen laptop and a significant number took more than a week to do so. Often, laptop locks are the first line of defence to stop opportunistic theft of portable computers. This combined with a biometric lock can prevent even the most hardy criminal from targeting your property. With the cost of providing some level of physical protection to your laptop being around the Â£30 mark, there now seems little reason not to implement some level of external security device to protect your laptop. Under new airport security measures, users may not be allowed to carry their laptops onto the plane. If you have to place your laptop in a suitcase, we recommend that: If you have a security cable, you should anchor it from your laptop lock to an interior strap or handle casing behind the clothing compartment in a wheeled suitcase; If you own a strong notebook case, anchor the security cable to the grip handles; Buy a notebook sleeve to protect your laptop inside your checked luggage; Do not leave your laptop exposed in full view in your car, the airport, or any public space without locking it down to an immovable object; If you have a biometric laptop security device, store it seperately from your laptop.
Holidaymaker Nabs Burglars
A businessman on holiday in Spain was able to alert police of a raid on his home in the UK because he’d invested in an expensive net-connected digital CCTV system. Engineering boss John Ellison, 52, watched the attack on his Lancaster home unfold on a laptop PC he’d taken on holiday with him to Malaga, Spain. He was automatically notified (via an SMS message) that something was amiss by the Â£20,000 security system, which features 16 CCTV cameras, after the burglars bludgeoned their way through a conservatory door triggering installed PIR devices when they attempted to enter his Â£600,000 home. Mr Ellison reacted quickly, and had his fears confirmed as he remotely logged on to his CCTV monitoring system. He watched the raid in mounting anger for the next 40 minutes until police, notified by Mr Ellison that a raid was in progress, nabbed two of three burglars. One of the burglars was caught wearing a Bart Simpson mask and cowering in Mr Ellison’s bathroom. Mr Ellison has estimated that the burglars have cost around Â£12,000 in damage to his property. "They were armed with bags full of crow bars and other tools. I was livid. I could see them smashing doors and various other things," he said. "But it was wonderful to see them being marched out and their masks being pulled off. The CCTV security system is expensive but worth every penny. The police seemed impressed as I directed the operations from Spain." The two men caught by police raiding Mr Ellison’s home have pleaded guilty to burglary and are due to be sentenced in November. Police are still searching for the third man involved in the raid. By installing a remotely monitored digital CCTV system, you are able to see what’s going on at your property from virtually anywhere in the World. If you are interested in installing a CCTV security system, then why not contact a member of our sales team, who would be happy to guide you in the right direction.
Wasted Time At Work
According to a recent survey, the average worker in the UK admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. As a matter of practice, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when determining employee pay, however this new survey indicates that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect. So what is the biggest distraction? Yes, you guessed it: personal internet use. 44.7% of the more than 10,000 people polled cited web surfing as their #1 distraction at work. Socialising with co-workers came in second at 23.4%. Conducting personal business, "chilling out", running errands, and making personal phone calls were the other popular time-wasting activities in the workplace. Employees say they’re not always to blame for this wasted time, however. 33.2% of respondents cited lack of work as their biggest reason for wasting time. 23.4% said they wasted time at work because they feel as if they are underpaid. But, are workers really expected to work 8 hours per day, non-stop? Companies assume that employees will waste 0.94 hours per day. They take this into account when they do their compensation planning. However, those managers privately suspect that employees waste 1.6 hours per day. In fact, employees admit to wasting 2.09 hours per day. To some bosses, that’s a startling figure. Others, though, will view this extra wasted time as so-called ‘creative waste’ – wasted time that may well have a positive impact on the company’s culture, work environment, and even business results. So, who tends to waste the most amount of time at work? Men vs Women: Men and women waste about the same amount of time per day. This, despite the fact that most HR managers surveyed suspected that women wasted more time at work than men. Youngsters vs. Seniors: It seems that the older people are, the less time they waste at work. If you are guilty of wasting a little time at work (and reading this far may indicate that you are) it may be comforting to know that you are not alone. It is nice to see that UK workers aren’t all work-minded 100% of the day, and that their employers are realistic about that too. Some employees even told us other ways they waste their time at work, such as primping in the bathroom mirror and having running races up the staircase with co-workers. One respondent writes, "the hurried walk around the office is not only a great way to look like you are busy, but also a good cardio exercise." Other employees bring Game Boys or needlework to the office. And when all other time-wasting tactics fail, there is always staring blankly at your computer screen or out a window. So, now that you’ve found out that your average co-worker also likes to indulge in some time-out, why not take a few minutes to surf the web or socialise with co-workers. Then, get back to work!