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Video | Difficulties with key cards continue

By Adam Giffi
On September 1, 2011

Access to dorm rooms is now just a wave away, but it isn't always that easy. As campus residents complete their second week with the new system, some have encountered technical glitches.

Students are supposed to be able to use their ID card to access their room or, in the event of a lockout, they are instructed to simply send a secure text message to a service to open the door. However, this has not always worked flawlessly for everyone

First-year Jessica Pesek, a resident of Morris Hall, is among these students who have had difficulties with the new system.

"I was able to get into the building using my key card but when I got to my dorm, it just wouldn't work," Pesek said.

After this incident, Pesek and a friend decided they would test the text message service. More bad luck.

"We both had our keys and we tried text messaging the service and it didn't work," Pesek said. "So we ended up needing to use our ID's to get back in."

Michael Yee, a Resident Assistant (RA) in Emerson Hall, said that, overall, he has enjoyed the new system. However, he has fielded a couple of concerns from residents and has had some trouble himself.

"Sometimes the key doesn't recognize the door properly, so it takes me a handful of tries to finally get in," Yee said. "I know residents that have had their cards randomly deactivated, and they had to return to Shriver to get this sorted out. I've also had two that couldn't initially get in when they were locked out."

Larry Fink, assistant vice president of Housing and Auxiliary Finance, explained the magnitude of the project.

"With a project of this magnitude and complexity, you do anticipate some initial start-up challenges," Fink said. "In a period of 90 days, we installed over 4,100 electronic door locks. Moreover, we produced over 7,200 new Smart Chip ID cards for students living in residence halls."

Fink said the problems he has heard about have not been major.

"We've had a handful of locks that needed minor work, a couple of dozen ID cards that failed for one reason or another," Fink said.

Fink has also fielded issues similar to Pesek's, though he stressed that these occurrences have been rare and not always a result of technical error.

"I have heard of a couple of instances of this occurring. I think it was the first day of class during a time when the system server was being re-booted," Fink said. "Everyone is learning a new system and all of its features. In some cases, we have found problems to be related to operator error, not problems with the locks or technology."

According to Fink, since the first weekend, problems have largely tapered out. Prior to move in, Fink explained, there was no way to test the system at the level it functions at with students on campus.

Some confusion has also resulted from the updated lockout policies. While using the text message system is free, consulting an RA will result in a $7 fee.

Ultimately, Fink is confident that the ID access card system was the right decision for the university.

"I'd say everyone is very satisfied with the new door access system," Fink said.  "I've been very impressed with the performance of the new system and know it will serve Miami students well now and well into the future."

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