In a university housing building that uses electronic swipe cards for access, find the computer that controls who is allowed in the building and take a picture of it
I chose ISR, one of university housing buildings on campus, for the assignment. First, I went to the main desk where all the management of the whole building is taken. The employee said there is no computer which controls who can come in or not, because ISR residents and employees already have an access in their ID cards. However, the main computer can check who comes in and out with people’s names and the time recorded. For the privacy issue, I was not allowed to take a picture of the main computer with a screen showing the records on but the blank page. Thus, I took pictures of that computer at the front desk.
Since I used to stay in ISR during my freshman year, I know ID card is necessary for the access of any area at ISR, especially during the weekends and evenings. Because the inside of the building is still in the same structure, I could easily find where electronic card access is required. Not only at the entrance of the building and the dorms but also at the hall ways leading to the washing machine room, the gym and the late night, machines for the electronic card access are attached to the doors. Most of them are run for twenty four hours, requiring ID card for the access, for instance the one at the entrance of the dorm. However, a few of them run at a certain time, for instance the one at the late night which does not require ID card for the access during the day.
The electronic swipe card for access has three features of infrastructure: normally invisible, durable and based on standards. ‘Normally invisible’ means the infrastructure does not have to be a visible, tangible object and its process is not something visible our eyes can see. It is normally invisible, because it is impossible to see how the machine reads the magnetic of the ID card and the received information is sent to the main computer at the main desk.
‘Durable’ means the infrastructure lasts for a long time and charges a big amount of money to build/make/set up. It is durable because the card-reading machines and the management program in the main computer are too expensive to change into another machine in a short period of time. As long as the machines and the main computer are well handled, they can be used for many years.
It is also based on standards. ‘Based on standards’ means social norms, protocols or agreement among the majority of people that are related to the infrastructure. All ISR residents and employees know their ID cards allow them to get into the building, not their credit cards or phone cards. They also know that they are not allowed to rent their ID cards to strangers or non-residents for security reasons.