RWC scanners out of touch
Students running into check-in problems while heading to work outs
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 16:06
Have you used the finger scanner?
Last fall, the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center installed six new biometric scanners that read finger veins as a plan for a more safe and efficient way for students to enter the facility.
The units, which cost about $350 per unit, are seen as a success by facility workers. To some students, it has become more of a hassle.
During the day, several students wait in line trying to get into the gym with some trying numerous times before giving up and using the card system.
One of those students, Thomas White, a mechanical engineering major, comes to the RWC four times a week and uses the scanners rather than the card system. He has to use the scanners at least three times at two different units just to get it to work.
“Eventually it works, sometimes better than others,” White said. “I don’t have to bring my ID anymore, but it is a lot harder to get in now.”
Member service leader Jonecia Mahan, who has been involved with the scanners, acknowledged the transition wasn’t easy at first.
“Just like with anything, there is always that period in the beginning where we have to get adjusted to [the scanners] and now, almost all of our students use them on a regular basis,” Mahan said.
Mahan compared the system to an occasionally slow but successful computer.
This isn’t the first time UCF has attempted a system like this. In January 2002, the RWC attempted to implement a fingerprint reading system. Rick Falco, now the associate director of Student Union maintenance and operations, began working at UCF in 2002 in the RWC. It was his first project as a new hire.
The system read points on the fingerprint and saved the points as a numerical algorithm in a server database, Falco said. Due to the limitations of memory chip size, the process of accessing a fingerprint algorithm proved to be too time consuming.
“At one point, one-third of the enrolled population at UCF was logged in the database,” Falco said.
Because the system could not handle sifting through almost 17,000 registered users, the RWC called it quits after six months. Falco estimates the project cost about $25,000 at the time.
There was controversy when the scanners were first installed due to students worrying about their privacy, Mahan said. It’s still an issue with new students. She has tried to reassure students who have questions by explaining exactly what a biometric scanner is and how it functions. It will not violate their privacy by storing their fingerprints, Mahan said, since the scanner measures vein patterns.
Since the scanners were installed, it hasn’t been as easy to sneak in since an alarm will sound if a student doesn’t enter the entrance properly. There have been fewer students sneaking in and facility staff have been able to catch more who do try, Mahan said.
“This system is here for the students’ safety, and that is one of our top values,” Mahan said.
Jerry Skuthan, a micro & molecular biology major who comes to the RWC every day, said the scanners usually work for him and take 10 seconds at the most, although his feelings are divided.
“It might be more convenient if they had a card-swiper like they do at Disney,” Skuthan said.
The scanner entrances doubling as exits are problematic, Skuthan said, because patrons have to wait for someone to either enter or exit before using the terminal.
The installation of the biometric scanners is planned for RWC at Knights Plaza as well. Like the main facility, a card system will be in place if students don’t wish to use the scanners.
Active Network, the company that installed the first set of six scanners, will be installing the new ones at Knights Plaza for $350 per unit, the same price as the first. The number of scanners is still unconfirmed.
Students will not have to register again at the new location if they are already registered in the main facility, Mahan said.
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