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The Solution: ID Scanners

It’s clear that anti-social behaviour is an expensive problem. For this reason, it’s important for venues to be proactive when excluding known troublemakers. ID scanners have proven to be one of the most effective ways to do this.

For example, when ID scanners were tested in a nightlife hotspot, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics reported a significant drop in violence in less than two years. Assaults in nightclubs in the same area also decreased by 13.2%. In other areas, statistics have shown that advanced ID scanners have reduced violent incidents by up to 58%.

What makes ID scanners so effective? Unlike CCTV or other reactive methods, ID scanners stop troublemakers from entering a venue in the first place. This is achieved by quickly analysing an ID document – such as a driver’s licence or passport – and checking whether the person is underage, has been previously banned or is “ID sharing.”

The best ID scanners are also connected to a centralised network. This means the operator can see whether the person has been banned from other local venues and, if appropriate, block access. This data is shared almost instantly – so if a troublemaker tries to move from one venue to another, he or she will be detected.

How Do ID Scanners Prevent Anti-Social Behaviour?

There are three main reasons why ID scanners reduce anti-social behaviour.

  1. Previously banned patrons, either from the same venue or another in the local area, can be blocked from entering the venue.
  2. Potential troublemakers are aware that their personal details are stored – making it more likely that they will be held accountable for an anti-social incident. This lack of anonymity greatly discourages crime.
  3. Problem patrons quickly learn that a ban at one venue can lead to exclusion from others in the local area, providing greater encouragement to behave.

Why Use an ID Scanner?

Aside from increased accountability, there are additional advantages to using ID scanners to reduce anti-social behaviour. These include:

  • The latest generation ID scanners can be regularly updated to recognise new ID types and formats. This reduces the need for staff to identify the ever-growing pool of valid national and international IDs.
  • Preventing troublemakers from entering a venue, and warning those who enter that they can be easily identified, has been shown to increase safety for both patrons and staff members.
  • Increasing the safety of a venue has the additional benefit of increasing the quantity of female patrons.
  • Decreasing the number of anti-social incidents, while making troublemakers easier to identify, can improve a venue’s relationship with the police. ID scanners can also lead to a faster conviction.
  • ID scanners have been shown to reduce theft in nightclubs by up to 70%.

Issues and Concerns

Venue managers often have concerns about ID scanners. This may be because they have used poor quality scanners in the past or are unsure if scanners are the best option for their venue. Here are a few of the most common concerns.

“Will an ID Scanner Increase Queue Times?”

One of the biggest concerns from venue owners is increased queue times. This is a valid concern. Scantek’s research has shown that even a small increase in entry time can cost a significant amount of money due to reduced drink sales.

A combined scanning and processing time of just 22 seconds, for example, can result in lost annual revenue of over $60,000 compared to an entry time of 12 seconds. For this reason, it’s vital for the scanning process to be quick. Ideally, the total time for scanning and physical processing should be a maximum of 12 seconds.

This is why advanced terminals are built to scan IDs as fast, if not faster, than manual inspection – with far greater consistency. It’s also important to choose an ID scanning solution that minimises the required number of terminals. Some manufacturers counteract slow scanning times by selling multiple units.

This can reduce queue times, but at the cost of hiring additional staff members. Research by Scantek has found that even a single extra unnecessary scanner could cost a venue over $7100 per year in additional staff costs.

Note: Processing time includes physical handling of ID, banned patron check, and fake & expired ID detection

“My Patrons Won’t Like ID Scanners”

Another common concern is that patrons won’t want to enter an establishment that uses ID scanners. Fortunately, surveys of patrons across Australia have found that this doesn’t appear to be the case. While there are certainly people who will object, most patrons understand that scanners are being used to increase their safety.

In fact, research by Deakin University found that 92.4% of patrons believe that ID scanners are the most effective method of reducing alcohol-related harm. Considering 84.4% of patrons also believe that alcohol-fuelled violence is the most common problem caused by intoxicated people in entertainment precincts, this is a clear indication that most patrons feel that the benefits of ID scanners far outweigh the disadvantages.

“ID Scanners are a Privacy Risk”

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns with ID scanners. For this reason, it’s important to know how an ID scanner stores data and who can access it. Each scanning solution handles privacy differently, so venues should look for systems that have the following security features.

  • The system should only show essential information to operators. This includes age, expiry of the ID and date of birth.
  • The system should automatically remove patron data after a fixed length of time. 28 days is an ideal length of time to keep data, as this is close to the requirements for CCTV footage. The exception is data for banned patrons – which should be kept until the end of the ban.
  • Access to advanced patron data (including banning) and demographic statistics be limited to high-level accounts.
  • Data should be transmitted with strong encryption. Techniques such as one-way hashing and access control should be employed.
  • The system should only share data of banned patrons with other venues.
  • The system should not be used to sell data to third parties.

Scantek’s ID scanning solutions employ all of these safeguards, along with additional protection such as industry verified encryption and data audit trails.

“Scanners are too complicated to use”

Some scanners are difficult to operate and require extensive training. Others are designed to be used by operators with minimal training. When choosing an ID scanning solution, it’s important to select a system that is easy and fast to learn.

This reduces the cost of training and ensures all staff members can operate the system when required. The simplest ID scanning solutions often use a traffic light system – green for OK, yellow for a possible issue, and red if there is a serious problem.