Administrators at the University of Georgia have decided to institute PIN entry for physical access to buildings on its Athens campus, replacing an existing hand geometry system that has long been heralded as one of the pioneering implementations of biometrics on campus.
Prior to the new PIN system, students accessed dormitories, dining halls and exercise facilities by placing their hands over a biometric reader. Starting this year, however students will use a combination of their student ID and a pin number to gain entrance.
According to The Red & Black, UGA implemented hand geometry biometrics as far back as the 1970s to maintain student safety and prevent students from taking advantage of the university’s unlimited meal plan.
More recently, however, students have expressed concerns with the biometric security system, citing specifically the spreading of germs, as thousands use the readers each day. The existing biometric system is also dated, bringing efficiency into question as well.
Others valued the security that the biometric scan provided. Sabrina Williams, a sophomore at the university, acknowledged her apprehension at the hygiene of the old system, but worries about the ease with which people can now enter buildings on campus.
“Honestly I feel a little less safe with the new pin system in place,” Williams says. “While the hand scanners allowed for diseases to spread more quickly, they did make it so only the person with that hand or ID could enter. The pin system makes it so that as long as you have the pin to the ID that you have, you can enter the building.”
The university’s Bolton, Snelling and Oglethorpe Dining Commons were the first three buildings at UGA to use hand geometry scanners. Following the initial implementation, the biometric system expanded to 17 dorms and the student union shortly after the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Prior to instituting hand geometry, Georgia used magnetic stripe cards for student entry at dorms.
Caiti Quiza, a sophomore special education major from Marietta, also fears the new PIN system will allow for easier entry. “It’s not that I don’t feel safe in the dorms now but it’s easy to figure out someone’s pin,” Quiza says. “It’s a lot harder to match someone’s hand print.”