Schools are unique in the sense that they need to balance physical security with student convenience, as placing too much of an emphasis one way or another can strain operations. When Tulane University in New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and forced to shut down for an entire semester, administrators decided to upgrade ID cards and access control systems, according to a Contactless News report.
Several years later, operations are back to normal and students are equipped with contactless ID cards that can be used for various access control systems and purposes, including entering dormitories and going to sports games, the news source said.
"We're using contactless to get into basketball games and the freshman residence hall, where everyone has to wave a card at a reader to verify they live there," said Doug Olson, director of card services at Tulane. "It used to be that 60 people could go through on one wave, but now each person has to wave a card at a reader at the front desk."
Contactless is key to the school's future
Although the contactless cards have a number of purposes at Tulane University, access control is one of their primary functions. In the past, student ID cards had a single magnetic stripe that could be swiped at vending machines, laundry appliances and dorm rooms. Now, most of the campus has gone contactless.
This is especially important in dorm rooms, though contactless technologies are not the only method for entry, the news source said. Instead, administrators chose to use a two-ply authentication method, which combines the contactless swipe with a four-digit PIN for individuals' residence room doors.
"The [access control] system provides a record of when a door has been opened and closed and it even tells us when a door has been left propped open," Olson said, according to Contactless News.
A separate report by Source Security also said that access control is the foundation of a successful integrated security system, which can make locations physically safer in a cost-effective manner. By implementing advanced technologies, school administrators can make campus life more convenient without threatening the livelihood of any community members – a common goal across the entire education industry.