Partner Spotlight: Facilities Management

March 30, 2016

As a member of Administrative Services at UW-Platteville, ITS serves all areas of campus and partners with a wide array of individuals and groups to make sure the campus’s needs are understood and our strategic goals are met. By the sheer nature of their jobs, ITS and Facilities Management collaborate on numerous projects every year.  How do you remodel a classroom or an office area, for instance, without considering heat, electrical, walls, furniture, and of course, technology? Projects can be short-term or span several years. The latter is the case for the electronic door access initiative. 

Electronic door access initiative: Students first

The electronic door access initiative arose from a desire to increase efficiency and improve security in the residence halls.  The initial project required the coordination of ITS and Facilities resources as well as Residence Life.

The IT Systems and Infrastructure team integrated the electronic lock system with Active Directory, the directory of all campus accounts, allowing card-holders to authenticate at the door.  They built the system so it can be managed by others, such as Resident Directors who manage student access to their halls.  Josh Savoy, IT support liaison for Residence Life, assisted with the project.

Facilities Management began installing electronic locks on the exterior doors of the residence halls in 2012.  The electronic locks allow res hall doors to be locked around the clock thereby increasing security.  Students gain entry to their assigned halls with a simple swipe of their student IDs,

The electronic lock system also saves time and money. With the previous system, when a building key was lost, Facilities had to rekey that hall’s exterior locks.  All old keys were collected and new keys issued.  With hundreds of students per hall, this was an expensive and frustrating process. With electronic locks, if an ID card is lost, the old card can be disabled quickly and a new card issued to the affected student alone, resulting in lower costs for campus and less downtime and frustration for students in general.

Extending to the broader campus

It wasn’t long before the advantages of electronic locks were applied to other buildings on campus. In 2013 Facilities began installing electronic locks on the exterior doors of select high-traffic buildings, e.g. Karrmann Library and Pioneer Tower.  Exterior doors on these buildings are programmed to lock automatically at a designated time, eliminating the need for custodial staff or Campus Police to manually manage the locks each day.

Other buildings with electronic locks include the Children’s Center, and Ullrich, Warner, Engineering, and Russell Halls. The initiative is ongoing with Ullsvik and Boebel Halls slated next.

An internal audit of UW-Platteville’s campus key system in winter 2014 revealed too many campus keys were out and about with too little oversight.  These findings further supported the notion of moving away from physical keys to electronic access, which is more easily and consistently managed creating a more secure environment.

Getting smart

Last fall campus updated to “smartcards”, replacing the old “mag stripe” cards with cards that have touch capability. Facilities installed the new card readers while ITS worked to set up the new card creation system. Smartcards contain embedded integrated circuits that are not easily duplicated, making them more secure than the magnetic stripe-only version.  Their touch capability makes them more convenient than their mag stripe-only counterpart. However, UW-Platteville’s smartcards employ mag stripes as well, giving users the best of both technologies.

Looking ahead

The electronic door access project is expected to continue as long as funding is available.   Facilities and ITS will work with University Police to target and prioritize high-traffic areas for installation. In addition, the next phase will focus on after-hours access to academic buildings based on class enrollment, eliminating the need for manual entry of access changes thereby allowing students and faculty the access they need automatically.

The future for Facilities Management and ITS

The list of partnership opportunities for Facilities Management and ITS is never-ending.  Upcoming projects include expanding outdoor wireless, remodeling Melcher Hall, and the design phase of the 103 Doudna lecture hall renovation.

In all of these projects, Facilities Management tends to the physical aspects while IT takes on more of the software.  Pete Nemmetz, Facilities project manager for the electronic door initiative, points out that, “We wouldn’t be as successful if we didn’t have that teamwork.” Pete also gives a shout out to another ITS partner, the Project Management Center of Excellence (PMCOE), who “leads the charge” in facilitating projects and keeping them on track.

ITS will continue to explore a variety of solutions and partnerships across campus in order to provide secure and cost-effective services that meet UW-Platteville’s needs.

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