Lehigh is replacing the swipe access readers used to enter university buildings with newer tap access readers.
The IDs, Electronic Access and Locksmith — or IDEAL — Office is where students go for any issues regarding building access. The IDEAL Office manager, Will Hlay, said tap-access readers will allow students, staff and faculty to tap their ID cards on proximity readers to gain entry to buildings or rooms on campus.
Hlay said the older swipe-access system was outdated and needed upgrading, so the school moved forward with the newer tap-access readers to help increase security on campus. He said updating all the buildings across campus is part of a five-year project that began in spring 2015 and that all buildings will hopefully be completed by 2019.
Hlay said the IDEAL Office started printing new ID cards prior to buildings going online, so the majority of student, staff and faculty IDs have been updated. He said all new incoming students will receive updated IDs as well. Those who have ID cards that haven’t been updated, namely a small portion of upperclassmen, can exchange their current card for a new one at the IDEAL Office free of charge.
Residential Services director Ozzie Breiner said swipe access is an older technology that is falling behind in terms of support.
“We don’t really gain a whole lot by moving to this technology,” Breiner said. “The support for the older technology was no longer there, so we had to change it.”
Breiner said many schools have implemented this updated technology. He said Lehigh was one of the first schools to implement swipe access back in the mid-1980s. Other schools skipped right over swipe access technology and started implementing tap access technology later on.
He said transitioning to the newer technology is expensive and students wouldn’t necessarily see any difference. He said while the proximity of tap access readers might be more convenient and easier to use, it provides the same function of unlocking doors to enter buildings.
Breiner said Lehigh is in the second of seven phases that will allow the school to fully implement the tap-access readers into a wider variety of buildings by the end of this spring. He said it’s a long process and would probably be another few years until all residential buildings are online.
Breiner said while first and second year students have new IDs, many juniors and seniors still have older ones. He said new IDs have both tap and swipe access.
“As we bring more and more buildings online, we’ll be making sure if we’re doing any buildings where juniors and seniors could be living, they all get new IDs,” Breiner said. “We’re still maintaining a very high level of security. It’s not like we’re making anything less safe. If anything, we’re making it more safe with the newer technology.”
Kyle Smyth, ’17, the head Gryphon of Lower Cents, said all of the dorms and Gryphon staff offices in Upper and Lower Cents have tap access. He said tap access is being tested in Upper and Lower Cents in a trial or pilot type of program, but there are plans to move the updated technology to other residential buildings.
Smyth said it cost a few million dollars to update Upper and Lower Cents because there are between 40 and 50 doors, including Gryphon staff offices, that needed updating. He said the proximity readers are more convenient because he is able to tap his wallet, which contains his ID, against the sensor and gain access.
While the technology takes years to implement and is expensive, Smyth said the additional security makes it more secure.
“I love it,” Smyth said. “When I go to other residential buildings (without tap access), it’s a pain, so it’s kind of hard to go back (to swipe access).”