Rec Center Gives Biometric Readers a Workout

California State University, Fullerton, installed biometric readers for access, time and attendance reporting at its Titan Recreation Center. The center, which employs 120 students, uses Schlage HandKey and HandPunch readers to control and monitor access into the building.


Situated in the middle of Orange County, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) has seen its enrollment rise to just shy of 36,000 students. Titan Recreation, a program of the Associated Students, CSUF Inc., provides high quality recreational, fitness and educational programs, including aquatic exercise, intramural sports, fitness planning and youth instruction to the CSUF community and surrounding areas.

“Visiting with our peers while touring their recreation center at San Diego State, we saw how our fellow institution was deploying biometric hand readers to limit access only to those authorized,” says Dr. Andrea Willer, director of Titan Recreation. “Being able to eliminate cards made a lot of sense to us. We wanted to be sure only those enrolled could get in, not those simply carrying somebody else’s card.”

Today, there are eight hand readers used in the Titan Recreation Center. Three Schlage HandKey readers are placed at the turnstiles for accessing the Center. Another three HandKey readers are used for enrollment into the system. The seventh HandKey reader is placed on the outside of the staff door so that staff can enter the facility during off hours. The eighth hand reader is a HandPunch reader that employees use to clock into and out of work.

The HandKey hand geometry reader simultaneously analyzes more than 31,000 points and instantaneously records more than 90 separate measurements of an individual’s hand, including length, width, thickness and surface area, to verify the person’s identification. In conjunction with a PIN number, the authorized individual can gain access to the facility. The students use the keypad on the HandKey reader to enter their ID numbers and then place their hands on the hand reader. Verification takes about one second. At CSUF, this access control system ties into the campus’ card system, which automatically eliminates students who are no longer enrolled at the university. 

The recreation center employs 120 students. For time/attendance/payroll recording, they use the eighth hand reader, a Schlage HandPunch reader, to clock in and out of work. The unit works just like the HandKey reader, except that its data is sent to the University’s payroll software. Just as the HandKey reader doesn’t allow an unauthorized person to enter the Recreation Center, the HandPunch reader stops employees from clocking in or out for each other (buddy punching) while eliminating the mistakes made with manual timekeeping.

“Although the university has a campuswide card system, we’ve eliminated the need for cards for both access control and time and attendance recording,” emphasizes Willer. “Students, especially, tend to forget their cards when coming to the Center. Biometrics eliminates that worry for them and saves us time and money because we don’t have to remedy such situations.”

Assuring Only Authorized People Enter the Center
“Although our Titan Recreation building is only a little over a year old, we started using the biometric system about 1 ½  years ago so that everyone could start getting used to the system,” says Willer. “Today, about 2,500 people go through the turnstiles each day.”

According to Willer, in the first semester of the 2008-2009 school year, approximately 10,000 people were enrolled over a two week period. At the start of the second semester, the university enrolled approximately 2,500 people per day for three days.

“We can get large numbers of people through the doors quickly,” says Willer. “We had an evacuation recently where we needed to move approximately 300-400 people out and into the facility. The hand readers were able to handle this high volume.

“We can also track who is in the building when,” Willer adds. “For instance, we once had a problem with some thefts in the locker rooms. Once we knew when the thefts happened, we could check on who was in the building during those times. From this, we could denote a pattern of the same people being in the facility each time the thefts occurred. We quickly narrowed down our list of suspects to stop the crimes.

“The HandKey readers also help us with risk management,” Willer says. “To be a member of the Recreation Center, enrollees must sign a waiver and other legal documents. However, non-members were getting around this requirement by simply using a member’s card, putting the University in a liability position. Today, only those that are supposed to be in the building get in.”

According to Willer, when considering which biometric to use, they bounced back and forth between the Schlage HandKey reader and the Schlage FingerKey reader, which scans fingerprints.

“For political reasons, we selected the hand reader,” avows Willer. “We just did not want to get into discussions over fingerprint technology. We’re glad we did as the students accepted the hand readers without hesitation.”

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