By Juan R. Melendez Jr. (USAG Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg )June 17, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Good news: If you've been taking the streetcar to Heidelberg's Patton Barracks, your days of having to hike all the way around the installation to get on post are over.
A new automated "smart gate" that uses your CAC, or Common-Access Card, is up and running on the Kirchheimerweg side of Patton Barracks. In the next two weeks, similar gates will start operation near the shoppette at Mark Twain Village and on Nachrichten Kaserne.
This new gate is a boon to pedestrians who want to enter Patton Barracks through what used to be the post's main gate. Post-9/11 security measures forced its closing and the former back gate has been the only entry point.
The gate itself is a two-door metal booth meant to allow one CAC-carrying person at a time to enter using a fully automated system. With manual assistance from the guard force, adults with small children, pushing prams or carrying heavy objects may also use it.
Coming through alone
"First, read the instructions," said George RodrAfAguez of the Directorate of Emergency Services, who oversees the gate's contract. The gate isn't something you can just rush through, so, to avoid frustration, make sure to follow the instructions posted at the entrance.
For starters, make sure nobody else is using the booth.
When it's free, swipe your CAC through the reader and wait for the green light to open the door and enter.
Let the door close behind you. You can't proceed if it's left open.
Then, gently place the tip of your right index finger on the fingerprint reader. Once it's confirmed your identity, the other door will open, letting you on post.
Coming in with small children or heavy objects
If you try to come in with small children, pushing a pram, carrying luggage or a heavy pack, sensors will detect this and block automatic entry, but you can still be admitted by communicating with guards using the intercom.
First, while outside, press the intercom button, labeled "Call," there and talk to the guard, explaining that you need to admit members of your family or that you're burdened with heavy items.
Then, swipe the CAC, open the door and enter.
Inside, don't use the fingerprint reader. Use the intercom there to call the guard again. He or she will then let you on post.
For unencumbered individuals exiting that side of Patton Barracks, the simplest way is to use the old one-way turnstile next to the gate. But, if you have small children with you, a baby buggy, etc., you can use the smart gate. It will allow 3-4 people to leave at a time.
The "ready" light isn't on - Sorry, but the gate is not in operation. You'll need to walk around to the main gate.
The "wait/busy" light is on - The gate can handle one admission at a time, so you'll need to wait until it's free.
The CAC reader doesn't recognize your card after three tries - Is your card registered in Installation Access Control System, or IACS' If not, you need to get it registered. If the card is damaged, you may have to get it replaced.
You got in, put your finger on the print reader, but can't gain admission - Watch the small screen next to the reader for instructions.
"The most common problem is people mashing their finger down hard," RodrAfAguez said.
Leave it in place but ease up. If that doesn't help, "you can try wiggling it around a little, or use your left index finger."
Another possibility may be that the system is unable to match your print because of a problem with the print info stored on the CAC. In that case, the only fix is a trip back to the ID card office.
Still no go' - Talk to the guard on the intercom. In fact, if there's any problem or complication at any step in the process, press the intercom button to get help from the guard force.
Don't hit the emergency button - "People get frustrated, and the first thing they want to do is hit the panic button," RodrAfAguez said.
It's easy to see why, because it's a large red knob right above the print reader, but it's not the smart way to go.
It sets off an alarm but doesn't permit you to talk to the guards. RodrAfAguez advises users to use the intercom button labeled "Call," just to the left of the fingerprint reader, to get any problems resolved.
Why smart gates'
With today's increased security requirements, installation gates must be secured, but guards are expensive. According to RodrAfAguez, posting one guard for 24 hours for a year costs the Army about $190,000.
A third-generation smart gate like the new one on Patton Barracks has an initial cost of about Ac'A!30,000 plus relatively minor maintenance and operation costs.
Similar gates are already in operation the Kaiserslautern and Mannheim communities.
What can't the smart gates do'
If you've misplaced your CAC, if it's not registered in IACS, or if you need to sign someone in who doesn't have one, you must go to the normal manned gates to seek admission.
Can I bring my bicycle in'
No. RodrAfAguez advises you to just ride around to the regular gate.