First time accepted submitter Defenestrar writes "I've recently taken a job at a large state university where I manage the laboratories for a couple of departments. We have a good system to pro-rate costs for shared use of big ticket items, but don't have anything in place for small to medium expense pieces which don't require software control (i.e. AD user authentication logs). It is much more efficient to designate a common room for things like water purifiers and centrifuges, but log books have a history of poor compliance. Also, abuse or neglect of communal property has been an issue in the past (similar to the tragedy of the commons).
Do any of you know of good automatic systems to record user/group equipment usage which would allow for easy data processing down the line (i.e. I don't want to go through webcam archives). Systems which promote accountability and care are a bonus, but for safety reasons we don't want the room's door locked (i.e. no pin/badged access). Most of these systems also require continuous power — so electrical interlocks are not a good option either.
I call on you, my fellow Slashdotters, to do your best and get quickly sidetracked while still including the occasional gem in the comments."