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Student ID system falters after spring break

Students across campus were locked out of their own rooms and unable to use laundry and vending machines throughout the week after returning from spring break starting Monday, April 1.

First-year psychology major Liv Boch, who lives in Presidents Hall on North Quad, is used to technical difficulties with the ID system. Last semester, her entire corridor couldn't use MobileID at all, she said. During the week of April 1, she had to scan her ID multiple times before her door would unlock.

"I've had a few times where it's taken me five tries just to scan my card," Boch said.

Brad Grimm, assistant vice president of IT Services, said that there were two separate issues that caused the card malfunctions.

Over spring break, the door lock system, a program called CS Gold, was upgraded, and this upgrade temporarily disabled the tap functionality on the locks, Grimm said.

"By the time we realized what it was doing, it hit probably about 1,500 to 2,000 locks in all the residence halls, and we couldn't really tell which ones," Grimm said.

To fix this issue quickly, IT Services sent out a group of workers to manually relink the faulty locks to the system, as some students were unable to access their rooms after spring break.

Grimm claims the issue was fully resolved on the evening of Tuesday, April 2.

The second issue, which affected laundry, vending and point-of-sale functions at markets and retail centers, occurred when the virtual storage unit became unable to read its database, Grimm said.

"[The card reader] was asking 'can I let this person in?' and the database didn't say yes or no; it said nothing," Grimm said. "The default answer is always 'no,' so people couldn't get in."

Since all of the functions affected by this second issue are tied into the CS Gold software, it was much more widespread than the room access issue, Grimm said. Neither MobileID nor physical ID cards were working during the CS Gold software malfunction.

To repair the malfunction, IT Services downgraded the virtual storage unit and the situation was resolved the afternoon of Wednesday, April 3.

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After both sets of repairs were completed, the system returned to normal. Locks that opened by tapping an ID card were working properly and required no further attention, Grimm said.

During the process, students received emails stating that their rooms had been accessed via MasterKey. For first-year professional writing major Elizabeth Brueggemann, whose lock was not malfunctioning, this notification was a bit confusing.

"I was in my room, and I got a notification on my phone saying someone had entered [the room] for maintenance, but nobody had," Brueggemann said.

Though this ordeal was stressful for students and IT Services alike, Grimm said that the likelihood of a similar issue occurring again is "very, very small."

"This was a scenario that even the vendor hadn't seen," Grimm said. "We're adjusting our process to ensure that this could never happen again."