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Migrating from prox to contactless from a student perspective

Student article highlights concerns campus leaders can proactively address

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   Feb 23, 2024  ||   

At the end of 2023, the Elizabethtown College campus card was upgraded from proximity to contactless technology. As campus card, security, and auxiliary service professionals, we understand that this is positive step to replace an outdated technology with a modern, secure option.

It is a mistake, however, to assume that students have the same level of awareness.

An article about the new card in the student paper, is a good example of this.

I used to be able to scan into my dorm by holding my bag up against the scanner, but now I have to take it out, which is kind of annoying.

The new contactless cards received a visual redesign and were printed over the winter break and available for students when they returned to campus. Shortly after, the student newspaper ran an article expressing student perspectives on the new IDs.

According to the article, most people agree the new cards don’t scan as well as the old ones.

One student quoted says, “I used to be able to scan into my dorm by holding my bag up against the scanner, but now I have to take it out, which is kind of annoying.”

The article’s author agrees, saying “truthfully, the new ID cards and scanners are not as sensitive as the old versions, so they have to be held closer together and take longer to register.”

The students are not wrong.

The card may need to be held closer to the reader, because high frequency contactless cards have a shorter read range than low frequency proximity cards. This is by design, and it is a result of the increased security and fraud protection afforded by contactless cards.

This heightened level of security was at the core of the administration’s decision to replace the cards.

“While Etown College has been fortunate to have not experienced any major security issues related to our ID card system, nationally it was becoming more commonplace at colleges and universities using the proximity card technology,” says Joe Hudzick, Senior Director of Auxiliary Services.

The team at Elizabethtown seems to have done a good job rolling out a new system over a winter break. The author acknowledges this saying, “it was an impressive feat on the part of the involved organizations to implement the new ID system in such a short amount of time.”

The lesson from the student review is to prepare for the inevitable criticism that comes with a major change such as a migration of ID technology. Remember that even when you do things right – as it seems the team at Elizabethtown did – there will still be some degree of confusion.

The more that can be shared with constituents ahead of the change, the better. Spread the word that their security is the worth the minor changes they may experience.

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