Multi-function ID cards way forward for institutions

25 October, 2017
Multi-function ID cards way forward for institutions

Christophe Malgorn is Director of Secure Issuance EMEA at HID Global.

Universities are a goldmine of data, thanks to student and faculty records, research material, financial details and possibly much more. The use of legacy secure access technology in colleges and universities such as magnetic stripes or simple proximity cards for access control often leaves these institutions open to security vulnerabilities and data breaches. This results in increased duplication and fraudulent card use, and even identity theft.

Forward-thinking universities are now moving away from traditional magnetic stripes and low-frequency proximity card technologies in favour of high-frequency contactless one-card technology for their student ID programmes.

The Middle East is no different. Universities in the region have started to switch to smart cards in order to benefit from the increased security and safety, greater flexibility and user convenience. Not only the security aspect, but secure access technology saves money in the long run, in so doing, dealing with budgetary and cost-cutting issues.

Secure cards are now in high demand in large enterprises, government offices, educational institutions and the finance sector. Organisations within these sectors have been putting money into new solutions to ensure that employees and visitors are protected and have a good user experience, without any compromise on security.

There are five key reasons institutions are moving to smart cards:

Increased security and safety

Upgrading to contactless smart card technology bolsters physical access to buildings while strengthening logical access to networks, computers, documents, data, student health and financial records. Additionally, smart card embedded technologies inherently thwart fraudulent card use and card cloning, not only ensuring secure building access, but protection for other card uses such as debit purchases or banking transactions.

Migrating to a smart, secure credential can also eliminate the need for physical keys, which can all-too-easily be copied and are notoriously vulnerable to loss or theft.

Features such as personalisation, lamination, engraving and encoding, as well as embedded smart chips are being increasingly adopted as additional layers of security to protect employees and visitors. In the case of educational institutions, security of students is of prime importance.

Cardholder convenience

Photo ID, residence hall key card, library card, cafeteria pass, bus pass – how many cards do today’s university students juggle? With contactless smart cards, institutions can combine of all of those functions onto a single, highly secure campus one card and not only streamline their operations but greatly enhance the campus credential experience for students and staff alike.

Greater flexibility

Beyond on-campus convenience, multi-application smart cards allow for secure interoperability with off-campus applications such as transit and banking. What is more, with the added flexibility that smart card technology affords, new applications or updates to existing applications such as library privileges or dining plans, can be added or modified at any time without having to issue new cards.

Efficiency gains and cost savings

Multi-function smart cards provide improved security operations, more efficient workflows and easier management of ID programs for students, faculty, and staff. Due to better risk management with the increased security of smart cards, universities may also experience reduced insurance premiums.

Path to the future

Migrating to a unified, underlying smart card technology platform for all application needs gives institutions the ability to transition at their own pace as budget and resources allow – laying a foundation for adding new technologies and capabilities as they become available or increasingly more affordable.

Universities in the Middle East who are making the migration to a multi-function smart card technology platform are reaping immediate benefits. They have found utilising one smart card for multiple uses enhances campus security, provides greater user convenience and flexibility, reduces risk and generates new process efficiencies. All these have led to significant cost savings, while protecting technology investments for years to come.


Institutions requiring residents to have multiple security rights are fast adopting single card technology to reduce costs and improve performance.  Christophe Malgorn is Director of Secure Issuance EMEA at HID Global.


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