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A New Year’s Resolution for every campus: Improve security, don’t compromise accessibility

HID Global - Brett St. Pierre 2014By: Brett St. Pierre, Director of Business Development, Education Solutions with HID Global

University administrators are charged with accommodating a growing enrollment, expanding facilities and services all while often using obsolete and vulnerable campus ID card systems that are severely restricted in terms of features, functions and flexibility. At the same time, school violence and fraudulent ID card usage have become more prevalent, challenging administrators to improve security without compromising campus accessibility or the overall quality of the campus experience.

So how do colleges and universities provide the best security for their students, faculty and staff without hampering their ability to move freely throughout the campus? How do they bolster physical security without sacrificing easy access to campus facilities, resources and services?

These are questions that administrators will be asking themselves around campus security in the coming year. The biggest challenge ahead in 2017 is how to improve campus security without compromising the user experience on what are typically open, highly accessible campuses. Students and employees must feel both safe and welcome at their institutions.

The best path forward is to systematically replace legacy technology with the latest “One Card” solutions that deliver improved end-to-end card issuance capabilities and a path to new capabilities and ROI value. Successful One Card implementations deliver flexible student and faculty accessibility through visual security, enable cards to be used for many applications from opening dorm room doors to making cashless transit system payments or checking out media center materials, and support campus “green” initiatives through features like wasteless ID card lamination and eco-friendly card printers.

The good news is that the solution may not be as challenging to implement in 2017 as it once was. Today, the vast majority of student IDs leverage barcode or magnetic stripe technology to provide access to dorms, classrooms, libraries and on-campus meal plans. But utilizing a contactless smart card with an embedded smart chip is the more secure option because it cannot be easily cloned and inherently diminishes the opportunity for unauthorized individuals to obtain card information. One main benefit of leveraging contactless smart card technology is the ease of use it provides for students and faculty to access various campus facilities and services by simply tapping the card on a reader. Since the information is specific to the cardholder, cards can be further configured to allow access to specific buildings, services or applications.

Some campuses have also begun adding an option for mobile credentials. This technology leverages the proliferation of smartphones by putting a student’s credentials onto their mobile phone and then using it to give students access to facilities and payment systems on campus. The result is a more convenient, trusted and secure experience on today’s increasingly connected, mobile-first campus.

Mobile access control will grow in adoption, giving users more and more control over how they access and interact with the campus environment, as well as how they discover, purchase and enjoy its services and experiences.

Universities that aren’t yet ready to upgrade card technologies to more secure and mobile solutions can, alternatively, simply add a visual security element (VSE) to their cards that will make student and staff credentials easily verifiable. From overt to covert options spanning holographic overlays, microtext, fluorescing images and more, these VSEs provide a quick method to determine if the card is authentic as students and staff enter sporting or other campus events.

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