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German campuses launch self-service campus card kiosks

Evolis automates student ID issuance for six Berlin universities

Andrew Hudson   ||   Jan 24, 2017  ||   ,

One of the hallmarks of a campus card office is customer service. For many institutions in the US this could mean face-to-face issuance and a service with a smile, but a new system from Evolis deployed at universities in Berlin, Germany is taking an alternative approach by using campus card kiosks.

In an attempt to alleviate the issuance process for the more than 180,000 students enrolled in Berlin’s universities, six campuses participated in a joint project that has introduced self-service kiosks for the instant issuance of student cards. The system is now enabling students to create and print their own campus cards in less than a minute and has opened the door to issuance outside the normal working hours of the campus card office.

Validator Humbold Uni

Validator kiosk at Humboldt University of Berlin

Deployed in autumn 2016, the new ID issuance system has made it possible to convert outdated paper documents to multifunction contactless cards. In addition to serving as students’ primary form of identification on campus, the credentials also act as a loan card for the university library, an electronic wallet for the cafeteria, as well as a bus and train ticket.

Prior to the new kiosk system there wasn’t an instant issuance solution or plastic cards in place at the Berlin campuses, with the only form of student identification being printed on a paper-based credential. Naturally, the move to the new system represents a great leap forward in ID card services for the campuses.

“Due to the rapidly increasing number of students, we had to find a more optimal solution for the issuance of the student cards,” says Dr. Tamas Molnar, head of the campus card project at the universities of Berlin. “Lack of space and personnel in the student offices led to the idea of self-service kiosks. We also wanted an innovative solution that not only replaced the old card, but offered new functions to the students.”

German card management system developer ProService GmbH was selected by the universities to develop 20 machines for the personalization and the instant issuance of multifunctional student cards. ProService in turn chose a printing solution from French card printer and software manufacturer, Evolis. Evolis’ card printing system and the KM500B printer model are being used to produce the cards, while German company Pfister ID Systeme is charged with card distribution.

Separately, an additional 30 accreditation kiosks were developed in order to revalidate student cards and re-enroll students at the start of each new term. These kiosks, outfitted with Evolis’ TattooRW system, leverage thermo-rewrite technology to both instantly delete the existing validity date on the student card and enter a new date.

Real-time issuance via campus card kiosks

With regards to card technology each ID card is encoded with a contactless chip, as well as a bar code, the name of the cardholder, their student registration number, a university library number and an option for a student’s photo.

Prior to receiving their campus card, students are first issued a single-use QR code from university administration. It’s with this QR code that the student can be issued a campus card via the self-service kiosk. The creation of the ID card takes no longer than a minute, and once printed the card must be validated by the updating kiosk where the validity date and the codes for the bus and train ticket are amended.

The process must be repeated at the beginning of every academic term in order to properly update the student’s information. The cards do not contain any personal details about the student in electronic format, and the machines access students’ personal details online using a pseudonym. All communication is encrypted.

ProService also installed Evolis’ Primacy printers in the card offices of the six participating universities as a back up in the case of overcrowding at the self-service kiosks.

The hardware

Evolis’ modular printer solutions, the KM500B and KM2000B, can be customized according to the specific requirements of an issuance project, are ideal for inclusion in kiosks, and print either single- or double-sided credentials.

In their standard version, the KM500B and KM2000B are both equipped with an encoder for magnetic strips, but can be optionally equipped with encoders for both contact-based and contactless chip cards. The printers also feature high loading capacities at 500 cards for KM500B, and 2000 cards for KM2000B.

Evolis’ Tattoo RW model, integrated into the updating kiosks, is the designed for temporary IDs or documents that need to be updated frequently. The system uses thermal rewrite technology and in only a few seconds erases old data printed to the card’s surface and encodes new data. The same card can be deleted, changed and re-written up to 500 times and no ribbons are required.

According to a ProService spokesperson, there has been interest in the kiosk solution from other institutions in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and from schools in other cities across Germany.

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