Making Data-informed Decisions
Access control is key driver for campus building entry
- By Kevin Paul Taschereau
- August 01, 2020
At the University of New England,
access control is a piece of a larger
puzzle helping to connect each person
to the institution and campus.
Every student, faculty and staff
member receives an ID card, plus there’s a
card option for community members who
are interested in using our athletic facilities.
We partner with Transact to provide easy,
convenient and credential-driven access to
buildings, events and transportation. Students
can also use their ID cards to access
their meal plans, borrow materials from the
library and use printing services.
As ID Card Systems Manager, I oversee
access control and card services for the university’s
Portland and Biddeford campuses,
serving the needs of our students, faculty,
staff and community members.
To best meet those needs, data is king.
Instead of making guesses, we use access
control data to make data-driven decisions
to keep facilities secure, streamline processes
and enhance the on-campus experience. A
reliable credential program partner for IT
and card management leaders is crucial.
Partnering with Transact has allowed us to
transform our ID cards into an ultra-convenient
tool that gives us data-driven insights
to better manage our campus.
Advocate for Access Control
The ID card services office is housed within
the security department and we work
closely with our IT and facilities departments
too. Management of many of the
physical security tools is a collaboration with
our security team to coincide with access
control protocols, like surveillance systems,
panic buttons and parking systems.
Collaborating with other departments is
essential. Stakeholder buy-in can make or break
a strategy. Working closely with our facilities
and safety and security directors has helped
grow our access control program and use it to
strengthen physical security on campus.
Make Data-driven Decisions
Every campus is unique, and access control
initiatives should vary accordingly. For
example, the Portland campus is located in a
populous, urban area, and has a lot of people
coming and going throughout the day. The
Biddeford campus, on the other hand, is situated
in a more rural, coastal location.
Safety, building access and transportation
are important considerations for both locations.
But, our access control is not one-size-
fits-all. Instead, the university considers the
needs of each community campus, using the
data that’s providing insights to adapt our
initiatives as needed.
Here are some examples of how the school
leverages ID cards across campus.
Safety. When one thinks of access control,
security often comes to mind first. The Biddeford campus has an osteopathic medical school and a large marine science program, which require heightened security protocols for lab
and storage facilities. Access control links with physical security
tools, such as cameras, to give a deeper view into who is accessing
facilities, and when. It is a proactive way to stay informed.
Having university-wide access control in place also allows us to offer
benefits to the Portland and Biddeford communities. Community
members can sign up to use campus fitness centers, and receive fitness
center-specific ID cards to gain access. This helps us keep campus buildings
secure, while extending our campus resources to non-students.
Events. Student ID cards are an extremely effective way to manage
campus events and activities. The Biddeford campus has an ice rink,
which requires students to fill out a safety waiver before using. To
streamline the process, we are implementing a credential reader at
the ice rink, where students will tap their ID cards and staff members
are automatically notified if a waiver needs to be signed. Instead of
rifling through a binder to see if the proper forms have been signed,
an automatic alert pops up – making the entire process easier for
students and staff.
Transportation. Reliable transportation is an essential part of the
college experience. We have equipped our campus shuttle with a
Transact credential reader so students and faculty members can easily
tap their ID cards to ride, which also enables the university to
collect usage data on peak time and overall ridership. We can then
use this information to make cost-effective decisions.
For example, if university staff is seeing an uptick in usage during
the winter months, expanded hours are offered. If usage from a student
population living further away from campus, the university can
consider adding another bus and creating a new route.
Dining. Biddeford’s main campus dining hall is located on the
third floor of a building. We were experiencing challenges with the
line getting backed up during lunch time, and needed a solution to
make things easier on our staff members, and more convenient for
The old process required a staff member to accept each student’s
form of payment at a terminal, which takes time. Working with
Transact, the university rolled out a ‘fast pass’ system for students
with board meal plans to use their student ID cards to gain quick
entry and bypass the cashier.
Collaboration is key. University staff coordinated with the dining
hall team to make sure they were looped in on the process, making
sure they knew that the fast pass update was meant to alleviate stress
and pressure – not replace the work they do.
An educational awareness campaign was undertaken for students
but the ID card systems staff, teaching them how to use the new system
which was critical to a successful initiative.
Get creative. Good advise is to not be afraid of using technology
in a new way, or a way that it’s not necessarily designed. Creativity is
key, and data can be used to back up your plans. Don’t be afraid to
fail, and instead, focus on the improvements that can be made from
This article originally appeared in the July August 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.