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Card access system to be installed on campus

Elizabeth F. Clayton

Residents and staff of Warren Olney Hall will be the first to discard their metal keys in order to make way for a new key-card lock system scheduled for activation on Nov. 1.

Student ID cards will replace the metal keys, providing access to the computer room and seven of Olney’s exterior doors, according to Kathy Dodge, Mills’ public safety building access administrator.

According to Paul Richards, director of campus facilities, an “Access Committee” comprised of Mills representatives from technological services, computers, housing, faculty and Public Safety, have been exploring the key-card access for awhile. “We didn’t want to invest a lot of money in it if we were not convinced it would work,” he said.

Card readers mounted outside and to the right of Olney’s doors will determine whether or not the individual has access to the building, she said.

Some exterior doors will not have card readers. If an attempt is made to open an exterior door without a card reader, an alarm will sound, Dodge said. These doors are designed for emergency use only, and will have signs that read “Emergency Exit Only, alarm will sound.”

According to Dodge, the system is serviced by Keyscan Software that, once activated, will have a list of individuals who qualify to enter the building. If an ID card is swiped through the card reader that the software doesn’t recognize, then access to the building will be denied, she said. The software also records the date and time that an individual enters the building as well as how long the door is left open each time.

If a door is left ajar for a long time, then card readers mounted on the inside walls with built-in speakers will sound a warning alarm. If the door is not closed within a certain time period, Public Safety is notified immediately.

Another safety feature of the system: if a card is lost, it will not pose a safety threat to the dorm if the loss is reported quickly, according to Dodge. In doing this, the card can be deactivated, and therefore useless to anyone attempting to access Warren Olney, she said.

A new card as well as a new identification number will be issued to the individual in such an event, she said. It will also eliminate residents paying for the dorm to be re-keyed when a key is lost.

Activation of the new system was originally slated for the beginning of the 2005 school year but was postponed in order to work out possible “kinks” in the system, she said.

The hard wiring for the system took place over the summer.

Dodge could not foresee any flaws in the system, other than individuals’ lack of awareness of security, which, she says, is a flaw that is present in the metal key system as well.

Richards said that despite the added security this system provides, it will not succeed without the community’s participation in making the campus a secure place.

Dodge stressed the importance of filling out the proper paperwork for a resident who is planning on staying in the dorm for a longer time period than the housing contract, which is Dec. 15. The reason, she said, is that all identification cards will be deactivated at this time.

The plan is to have the dorm buildings and new buildings, such as the Life Sciences Building, outfitted with the system first, according to Dodge.

Planning for Orchard Meadow is already underway, she said.

The ultimate goal is to apply the system to all exterior doors on campus, she said.

She pointed out the benefit of having a multipurpose identification card, as well as the increased security due to the added safety features incorporated into the system.

For more information on the use of the new system, contact Kathy Dodge at 510-430-3115 or