HID secures Mercyhurst College with smart card technology

HID secures Mercyhurst College with smart card technology
Founded in 1926, Mercyhurst College, named one of the “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, is a leading liberal arts college. Located in Erie, Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst’s 75-acre main campus has 50 buildings and supports over 3,500 students, faculty and staff. In 1991, the college purchased a 100-year-old seminary for a second campus called Mercyhurst North East. At that site, nestled in the bluffs just west of the New York state line, 700 students are enrolled at the 84-acre campus located in the middle of the country’s Concord grape region.


Continued growth and expansion of Mercyhurst College signaled the need for a new approach to campus security. The school had constructed “smart” buildings that include fully integrated HVAC, a magstripe Debitek cafeteria system, interactive podiums with presentation systems, wireless and other technology advances. However, neither campus had a student access control system other than a traditional door locks and keys. Students and faculty had various cards (photo ID, library, cafeteria and copy services) and a new access card would have been the fifth card they carried. Therefore, a more sophisticated access control system was strongly desired for the campuses. Mercyhurst was looking for a single-card solution that integrated all of their existing card functions with added physical access control. The school also wanted to implement keyless access control, including freshman dorms secured for after hours access and school breaks. 


HID., along with system integrator U.S. Services, enthusiastically rallied to Mercyhurst College’s official motto “Carpe Diem – Seize the Day.” Bob Mittleton of Tonawanda, New York-based U.S. Services, served as consulting engineer on the project. “We originally planned to implement proximity plus magnetic stripe technology for the cafeteria specifically, but determined that the HID iCLASS single-card solution was far and away a better option due to the wide range of applications that would be made possible,” said Mittleton. He selected the iCLASS read/write contactless smart card system for its powerful, high-performance features including multiple memory sizes, form factor options, and flexible configurations.

“We looked for ways to benefit our students and faculty all the while keeping long-term costs down. We believe that the more we offer our students, the better they are handled and cared for. Mercyhurst strives to implement quality and sophisticated systems from companies and brand names that stick around,” said Roger Gregorich of Mercyhurst College.

HID iCLASS 16k cards with photo ID provided a highly modifiable, multi-application credential with enough memory area to store most common biometric templates. iCLASS R10 and R40 readers provide building and dormitory access for entering freshman in six dormitories initially provided with cards and readers. The comprehensive campus-wide system will be implemented in phases moving forward. Participation in HID’s Corporate 1000 Program gives Mercyhurst their own unique card format applicable to over one million individual card numbers for use throughout the school’s two campuses.

The fully integrated single card solution provides an easy upgrade path should the college decide to add new applications. As more physical control access points and new “smart” facilities are built, they will include access control readers as part of the construction plan. The school hopes to add cashless vending and make the card a full debit-type card so that students can purchase books at the bookstore, pizzas down the street and spend money at the local mall. The HID iCLASS system also enables Mercyhurst’s onsite adult education center, the Research Intelligence Analysis Program R/IAP to incorporate biometric readers for dual-verification access control.

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