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Entry-Control Approaches
(Chapter 4   Entry-Control Technologies, Continued)

Who you ARE

Exhibit 4.04An electronic device verifies the identity of a person through the use of a personal attribute, such as hand or finger shape, fingerprint, voiceprint, signature dynamics, retinal pattern, or iris pattern (exhibit 4.4). These devices, known as biometric identifiers, can be very accurate. The chances of such devices mistakenly allowing an unauthorized person into a facility is usually much lower than the chances of a guard inaccurately matching faces to picture badges. Biometrics are commonly used in high-security applications where unauthorized access into a facility is unacceptable. Recently, two elementary schools in New Mexico have been using hand geometry systems to verify custodial parents, as the abduction of a child by a noncustodial parent is one of their greatest vulnerabilities.

  • Strengths: This form of identification cannot be lent to other people. A particular person's identification can be deleted from the database when no longer appropriate. There is nothing for a user to forget to bring with him or her. Hand or finger geometry appear to be viable, affordable, and user friendly biometric devices for medium- or low-security applications. Retina or iris pattern scanners are probably the most accurate of all biometric devices, and are most appropriate for high-security facilities. Voice recognition systems have improved significantly over the past few years but still have some weaknesses to overcome before their use is widespread.
  • Weaknesses: Not all biometric devices are user friendly. Some devices are very difficult for certain individuals to use. Except when used with a floor-to-ceiling turnstile, it is possible for an authorized person to let in unauthorized persons. Some of these technologies are not completely mature, in that their occasional tendency to falsely reject an authorized person can be unacceptable in a school environment. The devices are subject to damage from vandalism. It usually takes longer to use a biometric device than a card reader or keypad.
  • Costs: These technologies continue to improve, and new biometric devices are always being brought to market. Prices for most of these devices have stabilized over the past 5 years. A stand-alone biometric unit can run between $1,200 and $5,000. A system that oversees and monitors biometric units at several doors can cost between $10,000 and $50,000.

Working with the vendor. Identification cards that are readable by an electronic device are probably the more viable technology for schools to consider for entry control. Dozens of different manufacturers are offering hundreds of devices that produce a wide variety of card styles and features. Visiting one of the security trade shows, such as the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) conference held each year, will familiarize an individual with most of the products available on the market. Some good questions to ask the vendor are:

  • What is the cost of the basic printer, basic digital camera, and basic software? What additional features are available for each of these, how much are they, and what do these upgrades provide?
  • What kind of computer will be required to run the system and with what memory and storage capabilities? What is the general speed of data input and card production that can be expected? What can be done (e.g., upgraded components) to speed this up? (An acceptable system may take between 1 and 2 minutes to produce one ID card.)
  • Does the printer create both sides of the cards at once, or does the card have to be manually flipped?
  • Will the vendor come and install the system and get it working initially?
  • Will the vendor program the software initially for the first card design?
  • What is the bulk cost of all of the supplies that will be needed? Is it reasonable to buy enough supplies for the next several years, or do some of the materials have a limited shelf life? How long are these particular supplies expected to be available?
  • What maintenance is required on the printer and how often (i.e., after how many cards?)
  • How long does it take to turn the system on before it is prepared to accept data for the first card?
  • Is there any limit on the number of cards that can queue up waiting for the printer at any one time?
  • What additional security options are available for the cards? (For example, some vendors offer hologram overlays, which may add $0.25 to the price of each card.)
  • What are the names and phone numbers of schools in your State that are already using this device? How long have they had their systems?
  • Did the other schools using this system find it difficult to use the system? Is training simple? Have they had any equipment breakdowns yet? Did any of the supplies not produce the number of cards they said it would? How many additional blank cards should be purchased for errors, re-dos,and so forth?
  • How much space is necessary to set up the equipment and allow enough room for operators and waiting students?
  • What happens if the system breaks in the middle of the registration of students?

 



Research Report:   The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools