How Secure IDs Can Protect Campuses and Provide Other Benefits

Here are the steps your institution can take to improve security as well as staff and student experience with smart cards.

How Secure IDs Can Protect Campuses and Provide Other Benefits

It can be extremely challenging to ensure the security of students, faculty and staff at large college campuses and healthcare facilities. This is especially true in a busy urban setting, where campuses can spans dozens of geographically dispersed buildings, each housing expensive equipment and valuable research. Access control systems in these environments must ensure security as well as other capabilities while providing a positive campus experience.

Smart Cards Provide Greater Protection

While most campuses currently use magnetic stripe (magstripe) cards or low-frequency (125 kHz) cards, often known as proximity (or Prox) cards, these don’t provide the security or adaptability to protect facilities from evolving security threats. The best approach is high-frequency contactless smart card technology that uses mutual authentication and cryptographic protection mechanisms with secret keys, and a secure messaging protocol delivered on a trust-based platform.

Access control systems also must be easy to expand without forfeiting earlier investments. Meeting the twin needs for both security and scalability requires making the transition to a system based on an open architecture that supports multiple card technologies and future enhancements. With this platform in place, a university’s or hospital’s cardholders also can eventually do more than just open doors with their ID cards, including making secure purchases and gaining access to athletic events.
The platform should also enable credentials to be carried inside smartphones in a managed access environment. This is as an important future capability that will be extremely attractive to students, faculty and staff who rely more and more heavily on smartphones for a variety of daily tasks.

Ensure Your Issuance Process Is Protected

Secure issuance is another important element to consider. To optimize the badging process, universities and hospitals must select printers, card materials and software that enable them to incorporate both visual and logical anti-tamper elements into their cards to ensure trustworthy, multi-layered authentication.

Visual elements can include higher-resolution images and holographic card over-laminates, as well as permanent laser-engraved personalization attributes that are extremely difficult to forge or alter.

Printers should feature a small footprint so they can be installed wherever needed, and the issuance solution should be easy to set up and use, intuitive, and require little or no training.  Field-upgradable printers enable campuses to meet new requirements as needs evolve, and software solutions should support multiple uses and include card templates that streamline card creation, including data synchronization.
Be Mindful of Printer Throughput Speed
Print speed must also be fast to keep card lines moving. To meet these needs, today’s high definition printing (HDP) units offer high throughput plus superior reliability and durability, a modular design, and crisper, higher-definition images than alternatives. Unlike traditional direct-to-card (DTC) printers, HDP printers actually print a high resolution image to a transfer film, which is then adhered to the card. This process not only delivers exceptional image quality, but also eliminates the possibility of print head damage caused by direct contact with the card’s contact chip. As a result, HDP printers can be used to print cards made from a variety of materials, including those with embedded electronics.

Another benefit of today’s high-throughput solutions is they can run operations in parallel, speeding issuance by encoding one student’s card while it’s printing another. These solutions also support both centralized and distributed printing, so universities and hospitals can pool two or more desktop units at the card services office for large-volume, centralized card runs, as well as individual units at locations such as residence halls where authorized users there can print cards and issue them to students. This can alleviate long card pickup lines while improving student convenience.

Speeding the printing process is particularly important at the beginning of each semester, enabling universities to minimize or eliminate long lines and make the registration experience quick and painless for staff and students, alike.

There are two key ways to do this. First, inline personalization solutions enable campuses to combine what previously were multiple processes into one automated step. A second way to speed card issuance is to pre-print cards with static information such as the institution logo ahead of time. Universities and hospitals can also pre-print visual security elements, so that all remaining items can be printed on issuance day using faster, partial-ribbon printing. 

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