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McDaniel College updates dorm access from brass keys to cards

Andrew Hudson   ||   Feb 08, 2019  ||   

It's often taken for granted just how much a modern campus card system enables its users to do. Payments, access control, attendance, event ticketing, and more are all routinely rolled into a single credential. Residential students at Maryland's McDaniel College will soon benefit from another of those use cases, with McDaniel 1Cards now being used for dorm access, replacing the long-used brass key.

As reported by the McDaniel Free Press, the college spent this January term installing a new card access system funded by private donation. The system is expected to go live once the final programming elements are synced with the college’s existing operations.

In addition to enabling card access for residents, resident assistants will leverage card access when conducting rounds, replacing the previous method that required using a master key. Students will continue to use brass keys to enter their individual rooms, but they will be able to use their ID card for perimeter door access to the dorm buildings.

“Installation of the card access system's hardware is complete,” said Chief Information Officer Andrew Lawlor, in a McDaniel Free Press interview. “We are now working on refining the configuration of the system software so that it will operate based on our requirements, and testing to confirm the settings are correct. As such, we have not yet identified the go-live date, but will make an announcement to those residents in advance.”

The electronic access control system upgrade will boast new safety benefits, including cameras and an alert system that's connected to the college's Campus Safety department. Campus Safety will also receive alerts from the system if a door is left propped open, and officers will be able to unlock doors electronically without being present at the residence hall.

The presence of brass keys on college campuses shrinks more by the day, and another massive benefit of McDaniel's new card access system is that metal key replacement will be less of an issue. With the update at McDaniel, a lost metal key would no longer grant access to an entire building even after an individual room door and lock core is changed.

The card access system and student IDs are provided by McDaniels's system vendor, Blackboard. “This system was selected with the future in mind,” said Lawlor, “It will be capable of reading cards by tapping them to the reader, or mobile phones via NFC technology.”

Card access has been implemented at three of the college's residence halls. Because the project was financed by a private donor, the college does not currently plan to expand card access to any additional buildings.

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