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Missouri State Drops Magnetic Stripe ID Cards

Missouri State University has replaced magnetic strip identification cards containing personally identifiable information printed on the card or available with a card reader with a chip-based card that the university said would be tougher for thieves to infiltrate.

The institution is using Blackboard's Onecard ID card system, according to Clement Balasundaram, financial reporting & technology specialist at Missouri State.

The time was ripe for migrating ID card technology, according to Kent Thomas, who managed the new ID card implementation and is a former chancellor for Missouri State's West Plains campus. "From the administration's perspective, we had a card system that was 13 years old and no longer supported by the vendor. We were using magnetic stripe technology keyed by the SSAN, also outdated and at this point risky. We were able to replace the technology, link it to non-proprietary access control, and remove the SSAN as a key identifier. Having moved to Banner as our administrative computing system several years ago, this was a logical next step."

New features of the BearPass Card, so-named for Boomer Bear, the university's mascot, will allow students and staff to charge expenses or purchases with a tap-and-pay feature designed to speed up processing during crunch periods, such as lunch. The user simply taps the card reader with the card to pay for a purchase. Users will eventually be able to deposit money and view transactions online, as well as report a lost card, which will shut down the card's activities.

Certain academic and administrative buildings will also have a BearPass card system to allow people to use their cards to gain access after hours. Residence halls will continue to use an existing door card system separate from the institution's previous Zip Card.

The new card will also act as the library card on campus.

Balasundaram said the campus' previous magstripe reader software used Social Security numbers as primary identifiers. "One of the main reasons to convert to this software from Blackboard [was that it] does not use Social Security numbers, but 'M-numbers' instead," he said. "The new card has a chip in it which allows for door access and so ... and so increases security campus wide."

The new card is encoded with a PIN and contains a unique number for each student and staff member.

Editor's note: This article has been modified since its original publication to remove some potentially confusing phrasing. [Last updated Jan. 19, 2012 at 7:51 a.m.] --David Nagel


About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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