UTHealth shuttle bus riders will soon need to scan their employee or student identification badge to gain access to ride the shuttle.
The new change is currently in a pilot program, which began on Apr. 8. The University of Texas Police at Houston, along with UTHealth Auxiliary Enterprises, have installed one working unit, which includes a badge access reader and tablet device to collect the data, on one shuttle bus.
The new technology infrastructure aims to reduce overflow on UTHealth shuttle buses and make sure there is enough space for UTHealth students, employees and faculty.
According to UT Police Electrical Security Design Specialist Adrian “Paul” Ayala, the changes come after reports of non-employees and non-students using the shuttle service to get around the Texas Medical Center.
“Because of the pandemic, MD Anderson shuttle buses shut down, causing overflow on UTHealth shuttle buses,” Ayala said. “It’s also the general public trying to get to a UTHealth building or elsewhere in the TMC.”
UT Police completed testing the technology infrastructure in late March. The equipment had to meet rigorous security standards for both UTHealth and MD Anderson.
“Everything is encrypted, “Ayala said. “The device has a layered defense system to protect the data from the readers, which is stored on the tablet.”
Ayala also explained that the equipment must also be physically secure. “We mounted and affixed the reader and tablet inside the bus and they’re locked with a device like what’s used in police vehicles.”
Ayala is still working with Auxiliary Enterprises and technology vendor, XsiV, to make sure processes and protocols are in order, such as back-up steps in case a tablet is out of service.
After a successful pilot, UT Police will gradually bring other units online.