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UI officials to combine Prox card functions with student IDs

BY KRISTEN EAST | FEBRUARY 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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University of Iowa officials have begun the process of integrating Prox card technology into students' IDs, a move that comes just four years after the original system was first implemented.

Starting this summer, UI students and faculty will be able to gain access to campus buildings and residence halls with solely their ID cards.

Following the university's recent partnership with Hills Bank & Trust Co., the UI will integrate the technology with the Iowa One card.

"… The timing on this works well for both the change in banking relationship and consolidating functionality," UI spokesman Tom Moore wrote in an email.

Moore was unable to provide the cost differences Sunday night.

Prox cards currently allow students and faculty to access UI buildings and residence halls during normal operating hours. Individual colleges and departments can also grant students access to academic buildings after normal operating hours, Moore said.

The UI started integrating Prox technology on campus in 2008 and completed the transition in the fall of 2011.

Jeff Aaberg, the UI Housing & Dining's assistant director of facilities and operations, said the Prox technology cost $3 million to install for residence halls.

Moore said convenience was also a factor in deciding to streamline the technology.

"We have heard from both student-government leaders and faculty/staff members that people prefer to carry fewer cards," he said. "We currently issue separate cards for door-access use, and this [change] will improve security for the campus while increasing convenience."

Though some UI Residence Hall officials have reservations about the process in which Iowa One cards will be updated.

"The biggest concern for us is probably the new students," said Kate Fitzgerald, the director of UI Residence Life.

First-year students for the fall this year will be issued the updated Iowa One cards during summer Orientation.

Fitzgerald said students who don't attend a summer Orientation, or students who transfer, will be given a temporary Prox card until they receive IDs. The use of Prox cards will eventually be eliminated once the transition to the multifunction Iowa One card is completed.

UI officials said current students — including those living off campus — will need to upgrade their Iowa One cards if they want the new functionality. Students who open a Hills bank account must update to the new system, which will be launched this summer.

UI freshman Hayley Nelson doesn't think carrying two cards around at all times is a hassle, but she said the new technology would simplify door access for students.

"I think that would definitely be more convenient for a lot of people," she said. "Then, on the other hand, if you lose your ID, you also lose your way home, and it's a much greater liability."

Though Prox cards are used by students and faculty to gain access to all UI buildings, the installation of Prox technology throughout all UI residence halls was completed just last year.

Moore said Rienow and Quadrangle were the first residence halls to have magnetic-stripe access in 2005, and — starting in 2008 — officials started installing Prox technology in all residence halls.

Though there will be some software updates to the technology, Fitzgerald said, the Iowa One cards will generate door access the same way Prox cards do. The black magnetic stripe on the back will grant door access.

"I would think it would make their life easier," she said, and student IDs are more valuable.

"Students have said they'll misplace the Prox cards. They value [their IDs] more."


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