Campuses are vibrant spaces filled with boundless youths and overflowing creative energy. But maintaining the positive vibes while providing adequate safety and convenience for the students is not an easy task.
Modernization is essential, particularly in a time when we are being spoiled by seamless digital experiences in our daily lives. Newer generations are growing up in an online era of instant gratification and one-click access to many products and services.
It’s quite natural for students these days to expect something similar from their educational institutions as well. Armed with the right technology, a simple campus card system can deliver this experience, while also improving overall safety and efficiency.
In this post, we will explore how a modular campus card system can help improve the lives of students, faculty members, and school administrators in K–12 schools, colleges, and universities alike.
The Building Blocks of a Modern Campus ID Card
Long gone are the days when a school photo identification card was just a simple laminated paper or plastic card with a photo and student contact information. Modern student ID cards are technological marvels, made up of multiple layers and functionality beyond basic identification.
Here is a quick look at some of the options you have when designing student ID cards:
- Basic Personalization Layer – This is where you can incorporate your college or university logos, background images, student photos, and other relevant graphics.
- Scannable Barcodes or QR Codes – Add affordable access control tracking features to the ID with printable 1D and 2D barcodes or QR codes.
- Magnetic Stripes – Adds capabilities like swiping to make payments or access various areas.
- Technology Layer – A preferred modern solution for one-card, contactless access to everything on campus, using advanced “smart card” and RFID technologies.
- Security Overlays – Use various techniques like holographic printing, guilloche patterns, and micro printing to create cards that are difficult to counterfeit or clone.
- Durable Substrates – Provide additional protection and longevity to cards using lamination, with the added option to create tactile impressions for additional anti-counterfeiting.
These are just some of the more popular options available to school administrators looking to upgrade their student ID card systems to the unique needs of modern student life. With the addition of all these optional layers, you can create a modular campus card system that delivers value in a myriad of ways.
The Average Student Campus Experience with a Smart ID
A modern student ID card is a powerful tool when integrated with compatible digital administration software and scanning hardware. Aside from helping security and faculty easily identify students, the smart card can deliver the following experiences:
Secure building access is one of the basic purposes of a student ID system. The smart card can be used to gain authorized access to spaces like dorms, libraries, gyms, classrooms, science or computer labs, equipment/supply storage, student unions, and other campus facilities.
Manual sign-in is highly inconvenient and time-consuming – the student ID card access system removes that hassle almost entirely. This is particularly useful in special areas like the library and other campus facilities where a sign-in system is required to access content or services.
A Better Cafeteria Experience
Lunch lines can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are on an empty stomach or have little time between classes. Bottlenecks occur frequently at the counters due to cash-based payment systems.
In a revamped meal plan system integrated with student ID cards, this is no longer an issue. Using the cards for meal plans is faster and more efficient – giving users more time to enjoy their food and socialize.
Universities often have multiple canteens and cafeterias using the same meal plan. A single smart card can unlock access across multiple locations, and utilizing meal plans becomes that much easier.
More Efficient Classrooms
In larger classes with many students, tracking attendance can be a ponderous process for the faculty members. Each day, it will eat up precious minutes which could have been used for learning.
Smart IDs allow teachers/faculty members to focus more on classroom activities. The scanner will send attendance data automatically to the student information databases. The system makes tracking attendance easier and faster than ever before.
Schools, in particular, will benefit greatly from a smart ID system. Tracking attendance has more significance in K–12 schools than universities. A campus card system can be used to send attendance tracking alerts to both parents and staff members.
Simplified Shopping Experience
Be it at the campus bookstore, the multiple vending machines, or even off-campus retail locations, a smart card with payment capabilities can make life a lot easier for students. For one, it removes the need to carry cash or rely on ATMs all the time.
Parents can quickly add funds to student cards and even keep track of spending patterns to ensure that the money is being used responsibly like utilizing meal plans and paying other school-specific expenses. The ID card can even be used at any linked campus laundry services, as well as local businesses with tie-ins to the institution.
Makes Attending Events Easier
Classes are not the only things that happen at modern campuses. From academic events to festivals, concerts, conventions, and more, the calendar is often chock-full of interesting campus events. The smart ID card can make attending events more convenient by giving instant access.
The campus ID cards can also make such attending events a whole lot safer. Campus security staff can easily identify and track students and prevent outsiders from gaining unauthorized access.
Improves Campus Security
While a smart photo ID can unlock many doors for a student, it does not automatically grant them complete access to every part of the campus. The access control ID system can prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing dorm rooms, classrooms or labs, faculty offices, custodial facilities, and so on.
Only users with appropriate ID cards can enter sensitive zones like dormitories, locker rooms, or staff-only premises. The access control system can also be programmed to alert the campus security authorities when an unauthorized person is accessing dorm rooms or other private places.
With a simplified visitor registration process, users can quickly print out ID cards for visiting family and friends. A modular campus card system can print secure IDs within minutes.
Smart cards can be a boon for colleges and universities spread across multiple locations. Users only require a single card for accessing dorm rooms and secure library/reading areas across different campuses. Only a modern smart card system can provide this level of sophisticated building access.
Easier Access to Funds
In colleges and universities, student-workers on the campus payroll can get quick disbursement of their salaries to smart ID cards. Refunds, book buy-back schemes, and other avenues can also be highly streamlined.
College students can quickly seek financial aid from their parents and relatives directly through the campus card. Parents of K–12 students can also keep an eye on their child’s spending patterns and ensure that the money is being spent on utilizing meal plans in schools.
Essential from a Bio-Security Perspective
Educational institutions across the world have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. Although the virus is in retreat with the arrival of vaccines, we cannot rule out future outbreaks and new pathogens.
Cash payments are a huge risk factor as both bills and coins can carry harmful pathogens. Touchless payments via a smart campus ID card are a much safer alternative in bookstores, cafeterias, and other campus facilities.
Schools can also use ID solutions for more efficient monitoring of biometric data. Temperature scans, student location data, and other details can be quickly uploaded to online databases.
Improved Crisis Management Capabilities
We cannot ignore the chance of gun violence spilling into schools and colleges. The threat of school shootouts is ever-present and unfortunately shows no signs of de-escalation. Campus card solutions programmed with smart tracking features can be advantageous during school emergencies, giving the school administration the power to quickly track students and shepherd them to safety.
With easy access to printing equipment, a simple plastic card offers no protection. Outsiders can easily create copies of campus cards and gain access to buildings in schools and other sensitive campus facilities. Many ID card solutions come with robust anti-counterfeiting measures like watermarks, holograms, and other tactile surfaces to deter this kind of threat.
Important Factors to Consider While Selecting an ID Card System
Modern ID card solutions work best in a tightly integrated credential security ecosystem. The other systems required here include:
- Bulk printing systems for ID cards.
- Modular design software.
- Building access control management software.
- Financial card issuance services (tie-ins with banks/credit unions).
- Scanning and surveillance equipment.
- Other accessories like lanyards, key tags, ID holders, etc.
The choice of an ideal solution will vary widely depending on the size of your student body, the security factors, the counterfeiting/cloning risk, and more important than anything else, the budget. For the best results and lowest prices, you should contact an ID solutions expert for advice. That said, the following are the major factors to consider while picking a campus ID card solution:
High-Quality Printing Systems: A blurry, low-quality photo defeats the basic purpose of a secure ID card. Opt for the highest quality photo printing system your budget can afford. This way, security staff can easily identify legitimate students from outsiders.
Demand for ID Cards: How many ID cards do you need each academic year for your students, faculty, and other staff? If the number goes into the thousands, opting for a high-volume ID card printer can help cut down on costs in the long term.
Card Durability: Some technologies like magnetic stripes break down after a few years of regular use. If you want to avoid the extra cost of replacing damaged cards each year, you could consider adding extra layers of laminates and substrates for some added resilience.
Anti-Counterfeiting Measures: A lot here depends on your perception regarding the risk of cloning or counterfeiting. If the photo ID card also has a payments system on board, or if certain sections of the campus contain sensitive equipment, you can consider adding multiple countermeasures for additional security.
Magnetic Strip vs. Smart RFID Chip: A legacy solution, magnetic strips are affordable and have served school and university campuses for well over a decade now. Unfortunately, they are also plagued with security vulnerabilities. For a more secure photo ID card, smart RFID chips offer far better protection.
Identity Management Software: To get maximum value from a photo ID card, you need a software suite that covers all the bases – from card customization and design to student enrollment and credential issuance. With a complete software solution, you can create an efficient, secure, and economical smart ID issuance and management system to address all your campus security needs.
Latest Card Solutions from Elliott Data Systems
Smart campus ID card systems are no longer considered an expensive luxury. Schools, colleges, and universities all need the advanced functionality offered by modern campus card solutions to meet the demands of the modern world. These photo ID cards also help you track students, restrict building access to outsiders, and can help keep the campus a safe and secure environment at a minimal cost.
With so many benefits and next to no disadvantages, save for an initial investment cost, there is no reason to rely on a campus ID card system. In fact, institutions that fail to upgrade to smart ID cards run the risk of appearing outdated and out of sync with the present.
Elliott Data Systems is the number one card solutions provider in the Mid-South states of Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. With over 50 years of experience, we are highly equipped to handle the needs of K–12 schools, colleges, and university administrators seeking modular campus card solutions.
For a more detailed consultation/free demo, contact our ID experts using the form available here.