Colleges expand use of student ID cards

The proximity chip technology is more expensive than the old cards, but the contract with Hills Bank has the bank contributing $1 per card, up to 50,000 cards. Just the cardstock itself—the plastic card with the proximity chip—costs almost $4 per card, in addition to the laminate overlay, the printer ink, and labor.

UI expects to issue about 45,000 cards, Lentz said. UI Hospitals and Clinics officials are not included in that total because they have their own ID cards.

The proximity readers for door access are now used on more than 1,200 campus doors in more than 60 UI buildings, including all of the residence halls, said Ann Rosenthal, associate director of building and landscape services in Facilities Management.

UI Facilities Management has spent $300,000 to $500,000 annually for the past three years installing the upgraded electronic access system on campus doors, Rosenthal said.

Installation of the electronic systems is more costly than mechanical keys, Rosenthal said, but they offer improved security and can offer cost savings in the long run.

In the past when someone lost a key, for example, a building may have been re-keyed to maintain security, she said. But with the electronic cards, access privileges to a lost card can be revoked with the press of a button.

The system also can alert UI staff to a door that isn’t locked when it should be, or a door that is propped open, Rosenthal said.

Officials at UNI, Coe College, Cornell College, Mount Mercy University, and Kirkwood Community College said electronic building access is being added to their ID cards as more campus buildings use the technology.

“There’s a convenience factor on our end as much as the student end,” by being able to activate and deactivate cards via a centralized system, said Ryan Reinhart, director of residence life at Cornell College.

Another benefit of having electronic building access on campus ID cards is that each card can be granted different permissions, depending on what a student, faculty, or staff person needs access to, Mount Mercy officials said. Also, the access can be changed during academic breaks or when a person leaves the university.

Such technology can show who has entered a building at certain times, if a security question arises, or can be used to track such things as when a dining hall is most busy.

Mount Mercy students and employees also use their ID cards for printing and copying. Once they go over the allotted number of pages, the card will charge them. Paper usage at Mount Mercy has decreased by more than 40 percent since that function was added to the ID cards, said Emily Muhlbach, assistant director for communications and marketing.

Kirkwood students can use their Eagle Card as a debit card around campus and at two off-campus vendors, including a Hy-Vee store near the Cedar Rapids campus, said Student Services director Bobbi Hagist.

College officials get monthly reports on how the students are using the cards and at what vendors, she said.

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