Smart cards have entered every area of use and access to restricted areas is no exception to this. Educational institutions in the North western university have been fast adopting this norm of replacing dorm keys with smart cards for access. This initiative is advantageous in multiple ways starting with the level of security which is provided to the users. Dorm keys can be tampered with or lost in worst cases. In the case of smart cards, even when they get lost, such cards can be deactivated and replaced with newer ones. The possibility of misuse is very limited or completely ruled out in best scenarios.
Technological advances are rendering dorm keys more and more obsolete, said Jeremy Earles, business leader of credentials and readers for the security company Allegion and an expert on access control, or the selective restriction of access to a building or place. “There is definitely a trend in the university residence hall space of moving toward smart cards especially,” he said. “Once you have the security of a smart card, you can then easily add the convenience of a smartphone.” This trend in higher education parallels a trend in the credit card industry, Earles said. Just as more credit card companies are adopting the smart chip to increase the security of transactions, so more institutions are adopting smart cards and smartphones to increase campus safety, he said.
The students are provided with smart keys or cards which provides them the access they require to move around the campus. All Northwestern students and employees will be issued redesigned ID cards — known as Wildcards — at the start of the semester, said Paul Riel, executive director of residential services at Northwestern. One swipe of the smart card will grant students access to both public spaces and private rooms in four residential buildings, he said.
With the northwestern university just beginning to embrace the smart card technology, other universities have started to adopt similar ways of granting access to their students. Though the authorities feel that the complete transformation consumes a lot of time and is expensive, the transition is worth the cost.
In other institutions, the students are provided access through a smart phone app. The access assignments are downloaded on the mobile and this way they obtain access wherever required. This way is even better as students are rarely away from their mobile phones. Villanova has been rolling out this system in phases, said Jonathan Gust, director of media relations. Students can use their phones to access approximately 60 percent of residence halls, and this percentage stands to increase in the future, he said.
Miami University is yet another institution having embraced this way of providing access to their students. Based on an informal survey, it has been found that the general notion among students is that this way is highly accepted and appreciated amid students.
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