Michigan Community College Uses Biometrics To Protect Critical Areas

Looking to improve security in important areas, Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan has turned to biometric hand readers to provide protection.

With more than 16,000 full-time students and an eight-block downtown campus, the college’s former card system did not provide enough protection for critical areas. The cards could be passed back and forth, lost or stolen—leading to possible misuse.

The college deployed a Blackboard one-card system for parking, point-of-sale purchases and door security. But college officials, looking for stronger protection for the school’s data center, along with the cashier’s office and vault, turned to Schlage HandKey II biometric hand readers.

Each HandKeyII is a complete controller that provides door operation, request for exit and alarm monitoring. All information, including biometric data, is stored at the reader to ensure operation even if communications to the main control computer is disrupted.

The readers also are wired into the building’s security system to provide remote access. Audit trail data also can be accessed to investigate any problems with access control into the areas.

Erich Flynn, network analyst with the school’s IT department, said the hand geometry readers offer two-stage protection with both biometric hand geometry and a PIN

“It combines something you know and something you are,” Flynn said. “With our one-card system, it’s only something you have, so the dual credential really protects these areas.”

“We can do everything from a laptop, controlling the doors and monitoring activity,” said Scott Martin of the college’s facilities department. “Their IT team was very strong, and they worked with our IT technicians to provide the support we needed."

After the successful deployment of the readers, the college is looking to add readers to other areas, including laboratories and chemical storage areas.

About the Author

Brent Dirks is senior editor for Security Today and Campus Security Today magazines.

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