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New Iowa One cards will increase student safety

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Iowa know the importance of the Iowa One identification card. For students living in the dorms, these cards contain their meal-plan information and allows them to do laundry, pick up their mail from the desk, and a great many other things. Students have had to show their card when turning in their finals, when going to a sporting event, and when charging such items as textbooks to their U-bill.

This year, the university is adding two additional features to the Iowa One card that will ultimately prove convenient, safe, and economical in the long run.

The cards will now offer two services that were not always available, one being the new "proximity" technology, and the second being the debit-card function. These updates come at a perfect time, because although the cards cost $4 to produce, and officials estimate that there will be approximately 45,000 cards issued, the new contract with Hills Bank has the bank providing $1 for every card. The bank is also allowing the cards to be used as a debit card, should students choose to open an account with Hills Bank.

The other addition to the card will make it valuable to everyone and should grab our attention.

The new Iowa One cards have the technology to act as an electronic key to access buildings on campus that have, or are being updated to have, electronic locks.

During normal office hours or class times, the buildings will remain unlocked. Many university spaces useful to students and faculty, such as computer labs, are often locked, so if you are a student or university employee who needs to access a building after hours, the new technology will allow the Iowa One card office to administer access with the click of a button.

Ann Rosenthal, the associate director of Building and Landscape Services for UI Facilities Management, said the technology is safer for the university community.

"Authorization to access certain buildings is assigned to a person, not to a card," she said.

If a card is lost or stolen and replaced, Rosenthal said, all of the authorized access is transferred to the new card.

"Everyone — students, faculty, anyone on staff — is more likely to keep better track of these cards because they'll be using them more often, and I think we'll see fewer lost and replaced cards," she said.

In the past, students living in residence halls have had to keep track of their ID cards and their "prox cards," which generally meant that they were more likely to lose at least one of them. If they had the unfortunate circumstance of losing both, they needed to pay two replacement fees rather than just one. The replacement fee for the Iowa One card is $25.

Although that fee may seem like a hefty fee for a student on a ramen-noodle budget, students are still encouraged to report their lost or stolen cards. Students do not have to pay just to have their cards deactivated, and if the students find their "lost" cards, they will be reactivated for no additional charges — that's the benefit of advanced technology.

The technology increases campus and residence-hall security. The locks are better than other simple electronic locks. They can monitor whether a door has been propped open when it is supposed to be shut and keep track of who is entering the building.

Although there are capital costs to replace all the cards now, in the long run, these will almost certainly save money. The university will no longer have to administer both proximity cards and Iowa One cards, it will not have to change locks if a key is lost or stolen, it will not have to hand out and collect keys — it can just update the software inside the card by the touch of a button, and that is just cool.

Technology can do great things. Even if you're not too excited about having your picture taken for another new ID card, we can all get excited about the security and increased functionality that these new small pieces of plastic permit.


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