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Auburn athletics expands use of iris access

Auburn University has updated and expanded an iris biometric access system used at its athletic facilities. Biometric security systems provider Princeton Identity Inc., is providing its new IDS software and Access200 iris readers as part of the latest system update.

According to a Princeton Identity white paper, biometric access at Auburn enables student-athletes, coaches and authorized guests enrolled in the system to unlock doors to facilities and team locker rooms. To access these areas, individuals simply look at small iris readers mounted outside each door.

Auburn’s history with Princeton Identity dates back to 2011 when it initially deployed an iris-scanning solution from the company. That system has been periodically expanded in the years since, and this past summer Auburn decided on a major system software upgrade to Princeton Identity’s latest software platform, Identity Software (IDS).

The university had previously installed and used biometric hand-readers in its athletics facilities, but the modality and its implementation carried some drawbacks.

“We built the Auburn Arena in 2010 and installed some hand scanners for access to our locker rooms, but we were having tremendous problems with the system, especially with our basketball players, because they have huge hands,” says Jeff Steele, Associate Athletic Director of Facilities and Operations, Athletic Department. “We had to have a custom hand reader, but even that wasn’t great.”

Steele also highlighted instances of student-athletes sometimes injuring fingers during practice. The subsequent swelling would throw the reader off, preventing it from properly identify the student. This happened so often that student-athletes and coaches started propping the doors open, defeating whole point of having a system in place, says Steele.

This year, nine additional athletics facilities have been added to Auburn’s iris system. These additions include the soccer and track buildings, locker rooms for men’s and women’s track, baseball, volleyball and soccer teams, as
well as the locker rooms of the teams’ coaches.

Access rights are managed through a Lenel OnGuard access control platform, which integrates seamlessly with the Princeton Identity system. The iris readers are positioned at each secured door and communicate over the network with the Lenel OnGuard application server.

“When students leave a team or graduate, we just change their permissions and turn off their access,” says Rob Stanford, Facilities Management Technology Specialist. “We’ve had some coaches and students leave and then come back a few years later. We haven’t had to re-enroll them.”

The iris solution is fully scalable, capable of holding and differentiating between thousands of enrollees, including athletes, student trainers and managers, coaches, and contractors requiring access to the facilities.

Auburn is now running Princeton Identity’s IDS that manages the new generation of enrollment and access readers. The latest update also swapped out enrollment readers for the newest Access200e devices.

“The enrollment software is now completely web-based, and the new enrollment camera, the Access200e, is a separate unit that doesn’t have to be hooked up to a computer with special drivers and configurations,” says Rob Stanford, Facilities Management Technology Specialist. “It sits on a little stand and you just plug it directly into a network jack. That means we can easily enroll people from anywhere, using a laptop or tablet; it’s a lot more flexible.”

In the past, Auburn had to process all new enrollees from a central office. But with the new updates, system administrators can carry a laptop or tablet, and the new portable enrollment camera wherever the team is to conduct enrollment. It’s a feature that’s expected to be extremely convenient when Auburn’s football team of nearly 170 students will be enrolled next year.

For more on the iris biometric access system at Auburn, check out the full Princeton Identity white paper.

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