A dozen uses, One card


A dozen uses, One card

I think more work is done in the bar and at dinner than on the show floor or in the seminars (where yours truly will be speaking) at events like the Aussie Parking Convention here in Melbourne.

I had dinner last night with Canadians Sandra Smith and Daniel Ho. We spend the evening happily discussing the issues dealing with attempting to provide a single credential for multiple uses on college campuses. Daniel is in charge of this project at the University of British Columbia. He filled us in on the challenges and successes of the program. I will relate what I can as seen through a very nice alcoholic fog after sampling some wonderful Lagavulin.

The main problem is that the systems on a campus are varied. Students and staff use cards in the library, residence hall, cafeteria, student store, for high security access to labs, and of course for parking. All the systems are different and most have different requirements. For instance, the library system may use a bar code, the student store and residence hall mag stripe, the parking system proximity, and the high security labs an embedded computer chip. The credential may also be a photo ID.

It turns out that most if not all of these technologies can be placed on a single card, but it’s not easy. Daniel says that there usually isn’t a central depository for all this information on the campus since each facility(dorm, cafeteria, library, garage) has a separate system with unique requirements.

The solution is to have a credential with various technologies on it, and have the user take it to whatever department they happen to be using. The department can then read the data from the card into their system, attach what information that need from that individual, and press on. There is then one credential, but many systems using the information from that credential.

A decade ago we attempted to combine security and parking databases. There was a security officer and a parking manage who were in constant conflict. One issue involved access, the other money. Imagine if there were half a dozen different databases running on the same system. By having a multi technology card systems this issue is sidestepped.

Daniel says his system will be going live next fall. Stay tuned.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. If the governments really cared about the well being of the people they would have issued such cards for city parking and other activities such as library access. Instead, they do their best to collect money from unsuspecting motorists. Look how they took in $640 in one hour on a nice SoCal Sunday Afternoon:

  2. John, I take it one of the biggest challenges they had to work around was keeping the information separate and inaccessible to hackers?
    Identity fraud is a rapidly growing problem worldwide, so have this much information on one card is fraught with danger. Where as, if you lose your wallet, they have multiple cards using different systems to crack. This delay gives you time to cancel them.
    I would be interested to know how UBC go with the new system, and trust they have taken this into account during the design phase.

  3. I think that to keep the system more secure, they have many databases (library, security, dorm, student union) each having differing levels of security based on its need. The card has many different technologies, and is used in each location as needed. There is no central depository nor single entity overseeing it all

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