Drew University

  • Located on 186 wooded acres in Madison, NJ
  • Top Liberal Arts College
  • Primarily residential for undergraduates

Site Description

Drew is a highly selective university located on 186 wooded acres in Madison, New Jersey. The university started as a Methodist seminary in 1867. Today the University is made up of three excellent colleges. Drew’s College of Liberal Arts, established in 1928, has earned recognition as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.

With a total enrollment of more than 2,400 men and women, the campus is primarily residential for most of its 1,500 undergraduates. The wooded campus is a beautiful and comfortable setting for its resident halls. Each resident suite contains a private telephone, TV cable and Internet access. Students can enjoy the campus facilities and feel very safe in the university environment.

The university has taken a number of steps to insure that the campus remains safe for its students and faculty. By 2003, the university will have sprinkler systems installed in all resident quarters. Long before campus crime became an issue, Drew officials began implementing programs and systems to make Drew a safe place to live.

Drew prides itself as being one of the safest campuses in the nation. The school has an excellent safety record. Twenty-four hour protection is provided by Drew’s Public Safety office, an on campus police force, supervised by a former New Jersey State Police lieutenant. The police officers are trained in CPR, First Responder, and advanced first aid including defibrillation. Even with an excellent safety record, school officials are seeking and continually improving security procedures.

The Situation

Recently school officials decided that the resident halls had to be secured with controlled access to each building. The undergraduate halls had to be equipped with a locking system that would make it difficult for anyone other than a Drew resident student to enter the halls. The system had to be easy to maintain and administer.

The Keri Solution

More than 30 resident hall doors and some doors leading into high value inventory storage rooms, had to be secured. The solution was to add a Keri Systems’ electronic entry system. Proximity readers were installed at each door. The buildings’ perimeter doors, equipped with electronic locks, are locked at all times. Instead of a key, each student and faculty member has been issued a keytag in the shape of a small key-fob. When an authorized keytag is presented within close proximity to the reader the door will unlock.

The keytags are encoded with a unique number that cannot be deciphered. There are millions of code combinations so there is little chance of duplication. The keytag is assigned to a person and programmed to allow access to specific doors at specific times. If lost, the keytag can be easily removed from the system and the door remains secure without having to be re-keyed.

Both the keytag and the reader are made of high impact material that will withstand severe abuse and extreme weather conditions. There is no contact between the tag and the reader and wear is not a function of usage. The reader has no slots to clean and does not require periodic calibration. Maintenance is performed for aesthetic reasons only.

The entire system is programmed and managed from a central computer located in the Facilities office. The Keri Doors software allows the security administrator to assign keytags to individual members. The tags can be programmed to an access group that allow access through a specific door at scheduled times. The association of a time schedule to a door is called an access group. The number of access groups that can be created by the security administrator is limited only by the size of the computer memory.

If a tag is lost, or if the student takes leave without turning in the tag, the tag can be deleted or simply turned off with the click of a computer mouse. When a student returns, the tag can be turned on. A turned-in tag can be issued to a new student and past records involving the reissued key are not corrupted.

Once programmed, the system runs automatically. The computer does not need to be on-line. Thus, management of the system and administrative costs are kept at a minimum. If the computer fails, the system continues to run automatically as though nothing has happened. Decisions to open a door are made at the reader. Each reader is ‘smart’ i.e., maintains its own database, clock and event memory. If one fails, none of the other doors within the system are affected. The system architecture affords easy service and maintenance.

Each time a tag is presented to a reader, the event is recorded and stored. The event can be retrieved by the computer and stored on the hard disk. If a situation occurs that requires investigation, the computer can recall the data and a custom report of activity can be created for examination. The reporting system adds another level of security tools for the campus police to maintain safety and security. In addition, if a door is forced or held open too long (a time programmable feature) an alarm sounds, the situation must be investigated and the event is recorded.

Communication between the computer and the various halls is made via telephone modems. The Doors software can manage up to 255 sites, each site having an independent system controlling 256 doors. No additional software is needed. Soon, the communication will be established over the university’s local area network (LAN). Communication over the LAN is faster and more reliable than telephone communication.


The officials at Drew continue to add doors to the system. They are considering adding a photo ID component to the system. The photo ID will allow the security administrator to quickly confirm the tag holder to a photo maintained within the computer.