New Card Processor Reduces Costs, Enhances Safety and Service

Northern has contracted with a new company, CBORD, to process ID card transactions and activity related to both dining and recreational services, effective with start of the winter 2009 semester. Also, Housing and Residence Life's existing contract with CBORD has been expanded to enhance campus safety through keyless access to NMU residence halls and the Woodland Park apartments.

“There won’t be any noticeable change from the users’ standpoint because it won’t be necessary to issue new cards to employees and students,” said Art Gischia (Business and Auxiliary Services). “The main changes will impact the receivers. All of the different functions will now be under one umbrella program from CBORD. For example, when cards are swiped through the new touch-screen products, transactions in dining facilities will be transferred through a server located on our campus that will map the charge to the students’ meal plans.”

Gischia said recreational services has been using a “homegrown system” to permit member access to facilities. The department will migrate to CBORD and benefit from the detailed usage reports it generates.

“They’ll be able to verify memberships and track things such as the number of visits and where people are coming from,” Gischia added. “They’ve wanted to monitor that information, but it wasn’t possible with the system they’ve been using. By moving from multiple service providers to a single provider, we will be able to reduce our overall annual maintenance fees and enhance services.”

A keyless access system was installed in NMU residence halls and the Woodland Park apartments this fall. Most exterior doors on these facilities will be equipped with card readers, similar to those used by hotels, by the start of next semester. Some existing exterior doors will be replaced during the semester break to complete the installation. Doors that are not primary entrances will not be equipped with card readers, but with hardware to indicate when they are not secure.

“Card entry will allow us to manage the system more efficiently,” said Carl Holm (Housing and Residence Life). “We won’t have to change out the hardware if someone loses a key or issue temporary keys during breaks. In the event of an emergency, we will be able to put the building on lockdown from a central location—we won’t have to manually lock all the doors. That was the most significant factor driving this project.

“The card system is a bigger project than we imagined because we’re going to accommodate 2,700 or more people who need to get into various locations,” Holm added. “Controls have to be programmed to provide access for some and limit access for others. A student who lives in West Hall won’t be able to get into another residence hall.”    


The card readers will detail who entered each building and when. The system provides an added layer of security on top of recent digital upgrades to the closed circuit TV cameras and recording equipment that monitor the entrances to residence halls and Woodland Park. Holm said the upgrades make it easier for staff to review activity at any time of day. He said it has already been used to identify middle-of-the-night vandals.


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Updated: November 19, 2008

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