tidBiTS
Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - UCard Much more than an ID card

Author: ITS

Posted on Sep 12, 2013

Category: Management Briefings

Background Many universities throughout Canada, the US, and the rest of the world have long deployed sophisticated card technologies that are much more than mere identification systems. In fact, a lot of schools have completely eliminated the need for traditional door keys, cash transactions, and separate ID by combining these and other features into a single, flexible card system providing security, convenience, and value. In 2010, ITS engaged a consultant to review card technologies at UNB, and to recommend specific ways to incorporate more features and services onto the existing ID card. In 2011, UMC approved a strategy developed by ITS, with input from RLCCS, Security and Traffic, Campus Recreation, the libraries, and in consultation with Financial and Administrative Services (Saint John), to create and build “a single‐card access and transaction system“. The strategy directly supports the university’s objectives of building a transformative and exceptional student experience, and building a better university. Progress to date A five‐year plan was articulated and launched to advance the card strategy; in the last couple of years, a lot has happened to first establish, and then expand, the card system. A governance structure was initiated, with a steering committee comprised of leaders from various stakeholder groups. The committee has overseen the establishment and development of the new Fredericton card office located in the Student Union Building, which is now staffed with two full‐time positions; cards are distributed in Saint John at the Security office. The software application that hosts the system was installed and is now managing transactions for declining balance accounts that all students, staff and faculty use for printing, regardless of campus, and to make food purchases at Fredericton campus food outlets, plus the convenience store in the SUB. Also, all students, staff and faculty university wide can now add funds to their card via a convenient and secure online service; it doesn’t matter if the user has an old card from a few years ago, it will still work with the system. A great deal of thought and effort has gone into making the new features and services known to the community, and further publicity is planned—the UCard name itself was selected by students in a very successful university‐wide contest. Next steps New cards with a bold new design will start being issued to all students, staff and faculty in October. Fredericton cards will incorporate technology that will make transactions even faster with ‘tap‐and‐go’ functionality; these cards will facilitate the utilization of modern door access systems, ultimately aimed at eliminating the use of keys (did you know there are more than 25,000 doors on the Fredericton campus alone, all using keys of one sort or another that must be issued, tracked, and replaced manually?). This process will take many years to complete, but a good start will be made this year by placing new door access systems on selected exterior doors at Head Hall. New merchants will also be added to the card system over time—for instance, vending machines will soon accept the card for payment, as will the new Tim Horton’s outlet in the SUB, among others. Eventually the card system will reach off‐campus merchants and services as well; for example, several Fredericton businesses that rely on students for a significant part of their revenue have expressed interest in accepting the card. Finally, ways of reducing or even eliminating lineups at the card offices at peak times are being explored—for example, soon students will be able to send in their photo, and pick up their card with no wait at all!

Sept. 12, 2013 - Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS