The effects of chip technology on university campus life

Public authorities and corporations aren’t the only organisations using smart ID cards. Universities throughout the world view embedded chip technology as a way to improve campus security and reduce administrative expenses.

Many schools configure ID cards to help enrollees pay for meals, check out library cards, enter facilities and access other resources. What have been the consequences of these features?

Building on basic features 

One of the basic benefits behind contactless ID cards is that they decrease queue wait times and mitigate bottlenecks. For example, it takes longer for a line of 40 students with magnetic stripe cards to purchase meals than the same number of pupils carrying smart ID cards.

Many would consider decreasing queue times to be a negligible advantage, especially in regard to managing access to an expansive campus. However, if there’s one school that’s demonstrated the scalability of smart ID technology, it’s Portugal’s University of Porto (U Porto).

Establishing an integrated system 

Catering to approximately 30,000 students, the school owns and operates 14 faculties, 70 research and development buildings and several other units dedicated to the institution’s services. Although these properties are aggregated into three areas, these regions are dispersed throughout different parts of Porto city.

Using an open source application, IT administrators at U Porto integrated functionalities that allowed a test group to use the cards to:

  • Sign confidential, digital documents through services such as Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office and Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Encrypt emails and forms.
  • Authenticate web users.
  • Log on to computers.

Basically, U Porto’s smart ID card solution is an integrated component of the school’s IT infrastructure. This alludes to one of the chief reasons why university decision makers are investing in chip card technology: security.

Delivering security over the IP network 

A white paper developed by Cisco asserted the importance of connecting physical security assets (smart card readers, video surveillance equipment, web-connected door locks, etc.) to the campus network.

Suppose an intruder steals a student’s smart ID card. The victim calls campus security and alerts the department to the situation, providing his or her name, year of graduation and birthday. Those details allow personnel to search for the student’s unique ID number. Then, whenever the perpetrator accesses a building, security will be alerted to the malcontent’s location, as the tag reader will send the ID number to the university’s central database.

It’s a responsive system, one that could save lives, depending on the situation.

The capabilities associated with smart ID card systems are enlightening university administrators to other opportunities. In a way, the technology enables creativity, allowing professionals to experiment with chip cards to innovate campus services.