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Denver Joint Campus Upgrading to Contactless Smart Cards

Auraria Higher Education Center will be issuing new "contactless" smart cards to students and staff. The Denver, CO campus hosts three educational institutions--the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and the University of Colorado Denver--which share common services, as well as students. Currently, about 43,000 students attend classes each year on the 126-acre campus.

The new contactless smart cards, provided by Multicard, initially will be used with the campus' existing door access system. "Contactless" describes embedded circuits inside the card that communicate with the door access system via radio waves. The same cards will also serve as Visa debit cards. With time, the Center expects to integrate the cards with other applications for student services, including parking, meal payment, library checkout, event management, emergency incidents, and lab and recreational tracking.

Multicard isn't new to the campus; this latest project is an upgrade. The Center contracted with the company to upgrade the existing campus identification card system in order to have the option of encoding contactless smart cards for use alongside its existing magnetic stripe cards. The first phase of the work required the vendor to develop secure encryption key technology that would prevent hacking attempts; later, the company upgraded the campus' existing printers to encode both smart cards and magnetic stripe cards, allowing the Center to migrate to chip-based ID cards over time.

"The Auraria campus is establishing best practices for campus environments in terms of implementing a multi-function contactless card," said Hugo Garcia, president of Multicard U.S. "By electing to utilize standards-based smart cards, they are benefitting from the highest level of encryption technology while avoiding the costs and inflexibility associated with proprietary card platforms."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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