New ID cards part of effort to improve security and upgrade technology

By Ruth Stevens

Princeton NJ -- A major overhaul of the University's identification card system is scheduled for this spring and summer. The goal is to create a more secure environment on campus and to take advantage of new technology.

Staff members from several departments on campus have been working for a year on plans to launch the improved system. Perhaps the most visible change will be the replacement of some 17,000 ID cards held by students, faculty, staff, spouses, dependents, domestic partners, trustees, retirees and affiliates.

The need for the change began with the decision to replace the 500 proximity readers currently installed on some campus buildings, according to Becky Goodman, manager of software services in the Office of Information Technology. She has been working as project manager with other staff members from OIT, facilities, dining services and public safety, among others.

ID card design

The new ID card, designed by Micole Sharlin in the Office of Communications, will be easy to distinguish from the old card. The white background is being replaced by an orange background with tiger stripes.


The readers provide secure access to all dormitories and to some academic and administrative buildings for those holding ID cards with programmable prox chips. The current prox chips don't always work correctly, and the technology is proprietary and available through only one vendor. While all students have ID cards with prox chips, only certain faculty and staff do.

With plans to expand prox readers to most perimeter building doors on campus, University officials decided to issue cards with a programmable chip to all faculty, staff and students and to replace the current readers with more reliable state-of-the-art technology. The new technology will be the industry standard and available through several vendors.

In addition, officials determined that it would be a prime time to change the encoding map on the magnetic stripe of the card. The stripe includes encoding that allows users to have dining access, charges and declining balance accounts (Dining Points and PAW Points). Until now, the stripe was encoded with the holder's Social Security number as the identifier.

"We are aware of the sensitivity to using that number," Goodman said. "The new cards will have the Princeton University ID number as the identifier."

The new encoding will meet American Banking Association standards, so that eventually the IDs could even be used as ATM cards.

The ID cards will continue to incorporate a bar code for each holder that can be used for circulation at the University libraries. The old ID cards will be collected and destroyed.

New card, new look

The new University ID card has been redesigned so that it will be easy to distinguish from the old card, according to Goodman. The former white background is being replaced by an orange background with tiger stripes. The new cards will identify faculty, staff and student holders by their constituency group. The student cards also will have a letter and year to designate their college and class.

The card again will feature a photo of its holder. In 1998, the ID card office began shooting digital photos instead of the old Polaroid pictures. Several thousand of the digital photos are on file and will be used on the new cards. Those with photos on file will not be contacted.

Those who did not have digital photos taken will be scheduled for new pictures. Faculty and staff members are being notified by mail if a new picture is needed. Spouses, domestic partners, dependents and retirees also are being notified and are being encouraged to attend photo sessions. The next one is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 10, in the ID card office on the A floor of New South. Affiliates will be contacted by the ID card office or departmental representatives regarding photos.

The new ID cards for faculty and staff will be distributed in June. Distribution tables will be set up from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 8-9, on the south lawn of the Frist Campus Center (or inside if the weather is bad). Additionally, faculty and staff may pick up their new ID cards at the University picnic, scheduled for June 10. The ID card office will work closely with department managers if they would like to collect cards for a group of employees, such as faculty who may be gone for the summer.

Spouses, domestic partners, dependents and retirees may pick up their new cards from the ID card office in New South after June 10. (The ID card office will be closed on June 10.) Affiliates will be contacted about making arrangements to pick up their cards.

Student ID cards will be distributed in September. Students who are on campus during the summer and who have received authorization may receive their cards in June.

The dining services readers will be re-programmed to read the new cards on June 10. Anyone who uses a card for dining services will need to have a new card by that date. Vendors who participate in the Paw Points program also will read only the new cards as of June 10.

A number of faculty and staff members will need to carry their old and new ID cards during the summer. It will take from June through August to replace all of the prox readers, so the old cards will be needed for access to buildings until the new readers are in place.

On June 10, library copier readers will be able to read only the new ID cards. However, they also will be able to read the old generic copy cards available at the library, so that patrons do not have to be concerned about using up the value on those before the summer.

The departmental cards used for charging at dining facilities will be re-issued in June. The new cards, which will have a new look, will be distributed as replacements according to records in the ID card office. Those with questions about departmental ID cards should contact Kathleen Bozowski in the ID card office at <>.

For more information on the new ID cards, visit the project's Web site at <>.


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