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U Baltimore Card and Access System Boosts Lockdown Ability

The University of Baltimore is settling into the second year of an access control system that uses new card readers and smart cards for its 6,500 students. This replaces a previous set-up that required students to carry multiple cards — a photo ID card and a parking card, along with individual proof-of-purchase stickers — for specific campus services.

Door readers consisted of a mix of online and offline magnetic stripe and proximity readers, which, according to Campus Card Manager Zach Griffey, "were not uniformly installed across campus and were not used to the best of their capabilities." One problem was that there was no way to quickly lock down all buildings in the event of an emergency.

In October 2011 the campus officially kicked off its transition to a new kind of "Bee Card," as the one-card system is named. First, U Baltimore adopted technologies from multiple vendors to replace its student ID cards. The institution is using a CardSmith transaction system, which provides applications for meal plans, financial aid disbursement and other functionality. DataCard Group provided card production software and card printers. The cards carry a MIFARE chip inside to control multiple secure functions.

Second, in 2013 the university adopted Lenel On-Guard, a security integration platform for managing access control, and dozens of Allegion aptiQ card readers on academic and administrative buildings. The aptiQ reader could authorize both the new cards and the old cards, enabling the rollout to be done in phases, as people were being issued the new cards.

Under the new system, a lone ID card can be used as a photo ID, door access, library card, campus recreation, shuttle use, parking access, time and attendance, audio-video checkout, campus cash on and near campus and bookstore purchases.

"The initial launch first covered the outer doors of each building for ingress and egress," Griffey noted. "From there, we expanded inward to several suites, tech spaces, rooms, labs and special areas."

Management of the access control system is now in the hands of the campus police department, which monitors access into several secure buildings and can lock them down with a single mouseclick should that be needed.

"To date, the university has upgraded all readers on campus to online MIFARE locks that are centrally controlled by Lenel On-Guard 2013," said Griffey. "Since the project started in 2011, we've also expanded from 35 readers to over 120 readers."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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