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Stanford to begin issuing high-tech, 'universal' identification cards

STANFORD -- Starting this fall, Stanford University will begin replacing its current identification cards for faculty, staff and students with modern "universal" cards featuring high-quality color photographs and a magnetic information strip.

According to project manager Jack Farrell, associate registrar, the faculty-staff cards will at first only be used to provide access to "core" university services, such as libraries and recreational facilities.

For students, the new identification cards will be for basic identification, access to library and recreational facilities, and use with meal plans. Eventually, they will use the cards to obtain services at the Cowell Student Health Center, and in the future might use them for access to residences and to purchase myriad consumer goods at Tresidder Union and elsewhere.

A task force chaired by Registrar Roger Printup strongly recommended that the university start issuing such cards.

"We found very strong student support for this type of card," Printup said. He noted that many other major universities had reported great success with similar systems.

The initial phase of the program will take place during Fall and Winter quarters, Printup and Farrell said. The card-making equipment is currently being procured from a company called DataCard, and the firm Griffin Technologies is setting up the computer hardware and software that will run the system.

An identification card office will be set up at the Office of the Registrar in the Old Union this summer. All students will get their photos taken and cards issued at this location. Between October and December, faculty and staff will be asked to come by the Old Union for their cards, which each take about two minutes to make.

In addition to the central office, Farrell said, there will be temporary remote ID card stations set up at various campus locations, including the Serra Complex and the Medical Center.

Details about how to obtain the new cards will be published in late summer in the Campus Report and will be available on Folio (using the command "select press releases").

The total cost of the project is estimated to be under $500,000, Printup said. The system will eventually pay for itself and more, since it should be more cost efficient. For instance, faculty and staff will no longer have to be issued new cards each winter; a photo identification card will be valid from the date of issue to the time the bearer leaves the university.

Eventually, perhaps within five years, students might be able to use the cards for nearly all of their campus purchases, so they won't have to carry a lot of cash around, Printup said. This, and the possibility of making the cards dorm "keys," should provide increased security for the student body. Future applications for faculty and staff beyond library privileges have not yet been determined, he added.

"We're in the process of sorting out those possibilities," he said. "There's a very wide range of applications this kind of technology can be used for.

"For now, we're just going to worry about getting this system up and running for the core services the university provides," he said. "After it's in place, then we'll get around to the more exotic things in later years."


lid ID cards


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