Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ID Required: Park and Recreation Agencies Are Finding That ID Systems Not Only Provide Security, but Show Who Their Users Really Are

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ID Required: Park and Recreation Agencies Are Finding That ID Systems Not Only Provide Security, but Show Who Their Users Really Are

Article excerpt

Security in a post 9/11 world has become a huge concern in every facet of life. Airports have upped scanning measures, schools are strengthening its security presence and many tourist attractions are now closed to visitors. With this tight scrutiny on security, why shouldn't a local park and recreation agency also take a look at its own ID systems?

Across the country, communities are taking steps to ensure that its park and recreation facilities remain a safe haven for families, children and older adults to spend leisure time. When using these amenities, citizens want to be sure that safety is a major priority.

"We have a responsibility to our patrons and have to exercise the same diligence in protecting our users as schools," says Robert Sherman, director of community services for Adventura, Fla.

Security Measures

Although his city still uses traditional registration and person-to-person check-in methods, Adventura, like many other park and recreation agencies have found ways to increase security through use of an ID card system. Sherman says that his park and recreation agency uses ID cards throughout their many facilities and programs.

As a resident of Adventura or a member of the community center, individuals are issued an ID card that captures their name, address and other information. That individual is then allowed access to the community center by swiping the card at the entrance. In Adventura, the cards are also used for summer camps as a way to track children--parents drop off their kids, the card is swiped, and the summer camp leaders then know who has come for the day. It also tracks attendance during field trips. Children leave the bus and camp leaders collect the cards, accounting for all children in their care for the day.

Sherman and his agency are still working to find new ways to use the ID card, and recently implemented an ID system at the town dogpark. "We found that the dogpark was being used by non-residents," Sherman explains. "We decided to make it residents-only, and began using the card system."

Residents now swipe their ID card to open an electronic lock that only allows residents of Adventura into the dogpark. It has cut down on overusage, and creates a neighborly atmosphere at the park.

In Bolingbrook Park District in Illinois, residents have been using an ID card for more than 10 years to enter the town's aquatic facility. Season pass holders are issued an ID card, which allows them to enter through an electronic turnstile and skip the line that usually forms at the reception desk.

Recently, however, Bolingbrook also added ID entry points to spa locker rooms in a community center, allowing the agency to free up staff that might otherwise been securing the door. Bolingbrook also uses ID entry at another community center where front desk staff can't see who is entering the fitness center.

"It makes it easier for the customer coming in the door,' says Susan Hoster-Suggs, superintendent of business and finance.

Tracking Users

ID card use is not limited to security purposes. They also help track how many people are using the facility, when they visit and how often. At the Adventura dogpark, Sherman says his agency can track users and find out if the area is being overused, or when it might need maintenance based on the dog hours spent. "It is used for the economics--we can track what services we're offering" Sherman says.

At fitness center facilities, tracking may be even more important than security. …

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