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George Mason moves to smart one card system

Collaboration with HID/ASSA ABLOY implements Seos smart cards, multi-tech readers

Like many universities George Mason is rapidly expanding its campus, constructing new facilities and residence halls, and deploying new services on a virtually continuous basis. The latest renovation for the commonwealth of Virginia’s largest public university is an overhaul of the outdated Mason ID card system.

For over a decade, George Mason had been issuing Mason ID cards to students, faculty and contractors that leveraged magnetic stripe technology. These legacy cards wore out quickly, and among other things, lacked the cryptographic capabilities that smart cards offer. Moreover, the university also found it difficult to update and manage old campus door locks and cards.

As a result, the university decided to deploy a more secure and comprehensive one card solution that promises better security and efficient end-to-end issuance, as well as the ability to connect cardholders to new services and departments on campus. Central to George Mason’s search for a system was a cost-effective migration plan that could completely replace the campus’ legacy student ID card system.

Needing to address increasing security challenges, university officials decided that greater campus security could be achieved by moving to contactless smart card technology. The university also wanted to leverage the efficiency and convenience of a flexible, one card solution that enabled the Mason ID to be used for not only access control, but other value-added applications and services both on and off campus. These factors saw the George Mason move to a new and comprehensive ID solution that will see its more than 30,000 on-campus cardholders issued a new credential.

The solution

By working with HID Global and parent company ASSA ABLOY, George Mason designed an end-to-end ID solution that will enable university administrators to migrate from the existing card system over a projected five-year period. The plan will leverage multi-technology cards and readers, compatible with the legacy student ID cards and the existing hardware on campus. The new solution will be deployed over time and consist of three primary components.

First, George Mason will deploy HID Global multiCLASS SE readers, along with PERSONA Campus Software and SARGENT Passport locks from ASSA ABLOY. Chosen for their built-in encryption and enhanced security, the multi-technology readers and locks also support the legacy magstripe cards used on campus in addition to newer, contactless card technology.

Second, the university will issue Seos smart cards from HID Global. The Seos credentials were chosen for their advanced security, interoperability between the new locks and readers, and their ability to support multiple card applications. As an example, the George Mason leveraged HID’s OMNIKEY desktop readers to extend the Seos card’s use to check out library books and to pay for meals in the dining hall.

Finally, HID’s FARGO DTC4500e ID card printers and encoders along with Asure ID card personalization software will be installed at George Mason’s campus card office. Cards are personalized by printing student information to the card, while at the same time encoding and programming both magstripe and Seos technologies in a single, inline issuance process. Total issuance time has been significantly reduced, data entry mistakes eliminated, and the new ID cards are printed at higher quality with more durable lamination.

“One of our goals is to get the students out of the card office as quickly as possible. We wanted something that was seamless, so staff could search for the person, verify the identity, print the card and hand it to the person, knowing that it would work right away,” says Jerry Baugh, Director of the Mason Card Office at George Mason University. “With the new printers and Asure ID software, we were able to streamline the entire card process and set up a true one-stop shop on campus that not only reduced the waiting time for the students, but produced a more durable and better looking card that eliminated the hassle and costs of replacing cards that used to wear out too quickly.”

George Mason worked closely with HID Global and ASSA ABLOY to chart a three-year card migration path for its new solution. To date, George Mason has installed 3,500 new HID Global readers and ASSA ABLOY locks, as well as issued more than 12,000 new Mason ID cards to incoming freshmen. The university expects to complete its card migration by 2017 with more readers and locks to follow.

The new Mason ID cards, with Seos smart card technology, will initially be used for accessing academic facilities, residence halls, the campus library and dining services. The multi-technology readers and locks will help to ensure the total system works with the older magstripe ID cards still in use for these utilities. Potential new applications for the renovated Mason ID includes cashless payment for the Washington, D.C. transit system, time and attendance at the campus rec center, and the generation of one-time password (OTP) soft tokens to enable students and faculty to access cloud applications, data and other services in the future.

A view to the future

The university now has state-of-the-art campus security as well as real-time control when a lock-down or other changes are needed. The university can also more easily modify its access control system, including updating card privileges, revoking and replacing lost or stolen cards, and adding or removing applications, all while providing students convenient access to numerous aspects of campus life.

The move to a Seos-based technology solution has provided the university with more freedom of choice and the ability to add more applications as it scales in the future, while providing confidence that the university has implemented increased security and privacy protection for students and staff. Looking forward, George Mason has positioned itself to take full advantage of its new one card ID system to extend not only the use cases for the Mason ID, but the form factor of the student ID itself.

“For us, Seos is a short step. We want bigger, better, newer, faster. We know mobile credentials are coming and we want to be positioned,” says Danny Anthes, Senior Manager of Information Technology at George Mason University. “We know our readers are already there, so the ability for us to leverage mobile credentials, and send those to the phone, will be our next step.”

“I think Seos goes beyond just door access, it speaks better to the credential and pieces we have in that,” adds Anthes. “It allows us to put the destiny of the department back into their own hands.”

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