Out With the Old – Breathing New Life into Barcode Technology Deployments

by Richa Gupta | 09/25/2013

We read countless articles on current and emerging barcode applications in retail, logistics and manufacturing environments. It is not very often that you come across new and interesting applications outside of these traditional verticals in developing economies. This is why a recent news article about barcode use across all departments at the University of Pune was most refreshing.

The next large adoption opportunity for barcode technologies in emerging markets might just lie in the education sector. India’s University of Pune (UoP) will use barcode technology to track and process examinations administered this fall. The education industry is not necessarily new to barcode technologies, but the university’s unique application stands out as innovative within the commercial services sector.

The University plans to implement a barcode system across all 12 of its departments for the October/ November 2013 exam session. UoP consists of nearly 700,000 students across 680 affiliated colleges and 300 recognized institutions. The October/ November and March/ April examination periods each generate close to 1 million papers needing assessment. After a 2008 incident in which exam questions were obtained by students prior to an exam period, the controller of the university’s examinations called for steps to prevent such cases in the future. By placing barcodes on answer sheets, the University aims to eliminate the chances of post-exam malpractice by significantly reducing manual processing of the answer sheets.

The barcode system was employed on a limited, experimental basis during the March/ April 2013 examination session and proved to be effective. The barcodes contain information such as the student’s department and seat number, and the exam subject. In the experimental period, exams were processed faster and more efficiently while removing manual intervention in critical post-exam work.

If UoP’s widespread implementation goes smoothly, other universities are sure to catch on. The prospect of massively improving exam processes is undoubtedly attractive, but other classroom applications such as attendance tracking, lesson enhancement, and progress tracking present additional opportunities for barcode adoption. In emerging markets such as India and China, AutoID vendors and their solution partners will greatly benefit from targeting large scale deployment options in non-traditional sectors. While not mainstream, these unconventional citations of barcode adoption speak to how barcoding is increasingly becoming a part of this modern society’s DNA.

(A special thank you to Scott O’ Leary for his significant contributions to this blog post. Scott is currently a Research Assistant in VDC’s AutoID & Data Capture practice.)

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