Student Information System Integration Software Development Project
CTS integrates identiMetrics finger scanning technology with PowerSchool SIS to more accurately track student attendance.
Date: September, 2017
Finger Scanning Technology Firm Required Seamless Integration with PowerSchool Student Information System (SIS)
Identimetics, a leader in biometric technology, had a great solution for school districts, but struggled integrating their data with PowerSchool SIS in a seamless fashion. Initially, they have the services team at PowerSchool build them a custom UI page to read in the ID from the scanner. But this solution required a computer at every finger scanner, and did not allow for their USB based finger scanners. Moreover, it required districts to change their attendance setup to meet the requirements of their technology, not the other way around as it should have been. Thus, identiMetrics was not able to fully utilize all their tools to serve their customers, and struggled growing this new service.
Our Student Information System (SIS) experts met with identiMetrics, understood their technical challenges, and reviewed a demo of the product in its current state. With the current setup requiring a computer at each scanner, they were not able to grow to scan fingers in every classroom like they desires, and it challenged our PowerSchool SIS experts to develop a solution to support their growth.
Build a best practice solution utilizing the PowerSchool API, .NET web services, and Windows timed services
Our team analyzed the problems identiMetrics was experiencing, and developed a plan to allow them to grow their business. We proposed a .NET based server solution with an MSSQL database that listens for an ID from the finger scanner, checks a school roster to see which class that student is in, match it to the ID of the scanner, and write attendance to PowerSchool SIS if required.
This solution required a few:
- Custom PowerSchool plugin that created data entry fields and exposed custom endpoints via PowerQueries.
- .NET Web Service that listened for a message from the finger scanner.
- A Windows Service that runs every minute to look for all student check-ins, matches against the current school roster, and writes attendance via the PowerSchool API for tardy or absent students.
- A MSSQL database to store all of the records.
- XML based log records to review scan times for troubleshooting purposes.
This solution required multi members of our team. We engaged our PowerSchool SIS specialist to develop the plugin to access the specific data we need and write attendance information via the API. Our .NET development team creates the services required, and our Database specialists setup and optimize the database schema.
Integrate PowerSchool SIS with custom application to provide a seamless user experience
Our development team began collaborating to build a solution that allows identiMetrics to grow their business and create a better user experience for their customers. Initially, we needed the data from PowerSchool to develop against. Our PowerSchool experts developed a handful of PowerQueries:
- Current Class Roster Information.
- Daily Bell Schedule.
- Attendance codes to be written based on late time.
With this information, our C#.NET software developer was able to write a windows service that accessed this data on a daily basis. He also developed a web service that the identiMetrics team can utilize to write the scan location and student identifier so we know exactly when a student enters a classroom. Combining this data, we are able to determine which attendance code, if any, we should write to PowerSchool SIS.
After rigorous testing, our team released the first version to a school district that went live with the scanning technology. We supported the install of the application and verified the solution integrated with their student information system successfully.
Integrated Solution removes barriers for identiMetrics technology so they can more easily grow their business
Learn now finger scanning works
The fully integrated solution to the PowerSchool API provided identiMetrics with a tool they can now scale and grow. The backend integration removed the previous requirement that a computer be available at every scan station. When scanning at an individual classroom, having a computer at the front of the room was cost prohibitive for many prospective clients.
In addition, the integrated API solution wrote negative attendance, as opposed to the previous solution, which provided positive attendance. This means that users could configure PowerSchool SIS as designed, and not have to change their attendance tracking if they wanted to use the identiMetrics solution.
Identimetics has been able to take this solution and lead to an increase in sales, and more interest in the product. And they continue to engage with our team to build more features, and provide even better solutions for schools districts across the country.