Providing adequate security for college and university campuses is a much
more difficult task than it is for other types of facilities, such as
business buildings. While most businesses run during normal business hours,
students come and go freely on a 24-hour basis in many residence halls,
and many campuses offer late-night services in their libraries, sports
facilities, labs and student unions. The turnover is also much higher
than in the business world, with scores of students joining and leaving
the school each semester.
Prospective students and their parents add to the daily entourage of on-campus traffic, in parking lots and throughout nearly every facility. Add to this intramural sports, which bring off-campus teams, fans and vendors to the properties; and college parties that attract friends and strangers from near and far; and the well-intentioned security strategies start to unravel.
In the past, schools used laminated picture ID cards for student validation, library checkout and bookstore and student discounts. Off-duty police officers or contract security personnel were hired often as the sole eyes and ears of the school's security solution.
Many postsecondary schools still use the same systems to protect students, faculty and staff, but many campuses are now turning to electronic solutions, including access control, CCTV and emergency phones, in addition to manned patrol. One of the more popular solutions on the rise is the one-card system, which can accommodate a variety of tasks and services, including building access, student debit accounts for meal plans and laundry, bookstore purchases and library privileges.
Let's take a look at how three universities-the University of Louisville, a state-funded school; the University of Tampa, a privately funded school; and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a privately funded specialty school-face similar challenges, with existing buildings laid out on sprawling campuses.
of Louisville Cardinal Card
The University of Louisville comprises 137 buildings, including those on its three campuses and several off-campus, leased buildings. The 177-acre main Belknap Campus is located three miles from downtown Louisville, Ky. The Health Science Center, situated in the downtown area, is home to the school's health-related programs and the University of Louisville Hospital. The 243-acre Shelby Campus, located about 13 miles from the main campus, houses the National Crime Prevention Institute and the University Center for Continuing and Professional Education.
Thirty-nine of these buildings are currently wired for electronic access control, and as new structures are erected, wiring for access control may be included in the construction. "As buildings are modified for other uses, our intention is to retrofit them for access control, but only as the demands of the building and budget considerations require it," explained Joe Gahlinger, coordinator of computer operations for the vice president of finance and administration.
The university has used 260 Wiegand readers and cards for the past 15 years, and is now transitioning to a multi-technology card to create a one-card solution. "Formerly," said Gahlinger, "a student who had security access to a residence and who was on the meal plan carried an access card, a meal plan card, a library card and an ID card. Copier and Uniprint cards in the computer labs were also available."
To meet everyone's needs as efficiently as possible, Gahlinger established a working group including the Student Government Association, faculty, school administrators, the student administration and staff from the Health Sciences Center campus. The group reviewed card vendor options and prioritized its wish list for the card.
As a state institution, the university had to follow a stringent bid process that a private school or company might not have to go though. But, Gahlinger admitted, "the RFP forces you to look at all possibilities, and it forces you to have a clear idea of what you want the card to do." Without that requirement, he believes that many organizations might not complete such a thorough due diligence process.
The process resulted in CyberMark Inc.'s SmartWorld, dubbed the Cardinal Card in honor of the school's mascot. It contains a smart chip module, proximity and magnetic stripe technologies and a photo ID. It is used as a debit card for food service (both cafeteria and vending machine purchases), an ATM/debit card at the sponsoring bank, an ID card and a library card. "The proximity feature for access control is on the card," said Gahlinger, "but we are still integrating the new prox readers and database system."
As the card evolves, it will be used for student elections, computer lab log-on capabilities and digital identification. "We specifically postured ourselves with a smart chip technology card for its digital identification, or PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) capabilities," said Gahlinger. "In the future, we can implement PKI at our Health Sciences Center to meet HIPPA regulations for patients' medical records privacy." But, he added, those capabilities are just more steps in the evolution of the card usage. He forecasts a minimum of three to five years for total card functionality.
"The integration of the CyberMark system with the existing Andover Controls access control system is one of the most challenging aspects of the installation," said Gahlinger, "as we've already integrated this card with our student and human resources database system, and that wasn't a trivial task."
The access control system is controlled via an Andover Controls Continuum? software system, installed and maintained by SimplexGrinnell. The system runs on the Windows NT? operating system, and also monitors the fire alarms, intrusion alarms, elevator panic alarms, office panic/duress alarms and mechanical alarms. "By law, you have to install a phone line or a panic alarm in your elevators," said Doug Givans, physical security coordinator of the Public Safety Department. "We installed alarms, which come into our central station, and that saved a lot of money on additional phone lines."
The primary benefit of utilizing a smart card module is the convenience on the campuses. But Givans sees an even more important benefit arising from the merging technologies. "The current database has not been credible," he said. "Going to the one-card system gives us a fresh database and allows us the opportunity to develop policy and keep the database credible, which we didn't have before."
Of the 21,000 students and 5,000 staff and administration, about 8,000 will use HID Prox readers and DuoProx' II cards with smart chips installed by Schlumberger. The Health Sciences Center campus will use the new prox technology, as well as those in athletics and engineering, due to the requirement for access rights. All others will continue to use the cards without the prox technology invoked.
Three of the seven dorms will also use proximity cards. The other four already have standalone access control systems with magstripe entry. "If they don't need the prox feature, we won't issue a prox card, due to the cost differential," said Gahlinger. When the final merger is complete, the Public Safety Department will maintain the database and assign authorization levels to each card. All other programming will be done through the One-Card Office.
The university rounds out its security program with 58 Ramtech Corporation emergency telephones installed in the parking lots and throughout the campus, 22 Pelco color pan/tilt CCTV cameras and roaming patrol.
At the University of Tampa, President Ronald L. Vaughn has made a priority of using technology to provide more intense protection for students and faculty.
There are 29 buildings on the 75-acre downtown campus, including three new nine-story buildings that were pre-wired for electronic access control. Currently, the university is completing the final touches on yet another nine-story, multi-use housing facility with a complete electronic access control package. The first and second floors will house the new Student Union, including food services on the first floor. Floors three through eight are already in use as student residences, and the top floor is being designed for conference rooms. The school has opened permanent access to the third to eighth floors and first floor food services, while floors two and nine remain blocked off until construction is complete.
"We use HID's DuoProx' II proximity cards," said Brian Sutton, director of procurement and contract administration. "Access is based on time of day, from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The doors lock between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., and students must then use their cards to access both the building and their floor." There are a total of 49 HID MiniProx' card readers in the building, including handicap access doors, which meet all ADA requirements.
There is free elevator access to the second and ninth floors, but if a student's destination is any floor from three to eight, he or she needs to use the MiniProx readers that are installed in each elevator. Since the stairwells are locked, enterprising students trying to access a residence floor from the top floor will find it a long hike down to floor two.
The dual-technology access cards provide a student ID with access capabilities via proximity technology. The magnetic stripe allows food service prepaid accounts, and a barcode is imprinted on the card for library use. Sutton hopes to bring the bookstore online this year, and eventually upgrade the cards to a smart card technology.
Thirty-six fixed, black-and-white Panasonic security cameras monitor and tape activity in the parking garage, while several Panasonic pan/tilt/zoom cameras provide the same service in the student and visitor parking lots, the bookstore and the computer center. The cameras are wired over fiber optic cable to the security offices.
The university has security gates at two faculty and staff parking lots. TEM, the dealer for the parking lot access system, recommended Secura Key's SK-NET? Access Control software to configure the security gate operations and to maintain and update the user database. Its high-speed RS-485 communications network uses twisted pair shielded cable, and allows distances of up to 4,000 feet with virtually any system topography.
Students and faculty use Secura Key's 28SA-Plus Smart Access Control Units and Barium Ferrite cards. The readers control access through the Bulwark USATM Barrier Gate, Model TMG010. This high-speed gate requires only about 1.8 seconds to open or close.
The school installed the parking lot system before it designed the residence access control system, but chose the Andover Continuum? system after an initial research through the National Association of Campus Card Users. This association is made up of schools throughout the United States that confer with each other on various card issues, and ask for input from schools that have already had an experience with installation and service. The university selected Continuum partially based on a recommendation from Georgia Tech. Sutton also liked the fact that Andover's products had a strong energy management system as well as security access.
Sutton said the system allows him to look at events and correct problems as they arise. "The system alarms really help us stay on top of things," he said, "like doors that are left ajar." However, an initial lesson happened because they weren't aware that all logged events were autosaved. The system accumulated more than 450,000 swipes of the cards in just one building from August 23 to Dec. 10. The system was a little slow at deleting so many records, so they had to delete a small number at a time.
The school has roaming patrol and security phones from Ramtech Corporation. It is also looking at purchasing wireless security phones with solar batteries. The cost savings from not having to wire the telephones and hardwire for electricity make it worthwhile, said Sutton. Wireless phones will allow them to pick up and move phones as they build new facilities. The radio frequency technology will enable the phones to be on the same line as the security system.
Future projects include securing the computer labs with access control. They are also investigating the prospect of adding the HVAC control capabilities that Andover's system offers. "Our first priority is to our community-our residences," said Sutton. "Second is our high-value equipment, then the physical classroom facilities."
"The bottom line," said Sutton, "is that 19-year-olds aren't aware of their own safety. Their parents are, but the students aren't, so we have to be aware for them. I'm sure the students probably think it's an inconvenience to have to use a card in the elevator, but they adapt."
More than 4,500 students are enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which is located in Daytona Beach, Fla. The school is specifically for those interested in a career in aerospace, aviation, engineering and other related fields.
The school originally relied only on a hard key system, which is still used in some of the 30 campus facilities, and upon the services of roaming guards. Tim Martin, life safety systems officer, said the solution was moderately effective, but although a safety officer unlocked and locked the doors in the morning and at the end of the day, there was no guarantee the door would be locked if faculty left the room in the course of normal activities. Now, the school has had more than half of the buildings wired for access control, with an emphasis on computer labs and dormitories.
Embry-Riddle implemented its access control installations in 1996, using the Blackboard: Transaction System - Unix Edition. It is supported from the Phoenix Campus of Blackboard Inc., which manufactures the integrated software system and the 33 standalone readers that are installed in various facilities across the campus.
The readers range from the Sentry Security Reader for access control, Midi- and Maxi-Wedge readers for point-of-sale purchases (such as the cafeteria), vending swipe readers, as well as readers for laundry, account management and copy machines.
The main purpose for the installation was to provide additional safety measures for students in the dormitories, and to afford a more reliable tracking system for building access in order to protect high-value equipment. The installation also allowed the roaming guard patrol to spend more time on the campus and less time inside the buildings.
Each standalone reader is programmable to allow people in and out by name and card number. All of the systems are hardwired, with the exception of a special setup on the catwalk that connects the classrooms to the flight simulator bay within the flight simulator building. The catwalk has two entrances and two exits, which are controlled on both sides of the doors by card readers. Each door has a three-second timer programmed into the system, along with an "open door" signal.
In addition to access control, the "Eagle" magstripe cards are programmed to accommodate a debit card system. Students register their cards online, then deposit money onto their account. The cards can then be used to pay for meals, vending machines, washers and dryers and bookstore purchases. They also function as library cards. Students can check their balances online using a password.
Blackboard provides the card stock and the DataCardTM video imaging solution to the school as well. The school then creates the student photo ID and imprints the student number for student verification. "It is easy to use and I can use it from anywhere, including by laptop," said Martin. "If there is a bad lightning storm, I can fix the problems from any phone line anywhere." Martin said that the system is user friendly and that Blackboard provides great technical support and yearly training. "In the future," said Martin, "I'd like to see a standalone unit that is battery operated, so we don't have to hard-wire it, and we can still use our current cards and programming."
Joanne Harris is a writer and photographer for such magazines as ST&D, Control Engineering and PC104 Embedded Solutions. She has more than eight years' experience in marketing, PR and advertising for the aerospace, security, industrial automation and telecommunications industries. She can be reached at email@example.com.