Campus Card System: Can My Smaller Campus Afford One?

Posted on July 5, 2017 at 9:28AM


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Campus Card Systems, ID Badging Software, TotalCard



Historically, most smaller universities and community colleges have shied away from true “One Card” systems, the larger price tags and staffing requirements often giving them pause. Today, we’re noticing a major transition, as institutions of all sizes look to benefit from a true campus card system without the initial hefty investment of the past.

More campus card systems have begun offering scalable and modular systems, giving even the smallest colleges an opportunity to benefit from one system to manage all of their on-campus card systems and applications. With cloud-hosted offerings, pricing can drop even more significantly, as campuses no longer worry about the hardware and staffing requirements associated with on-campus servers. The flexibility of systems today gives them an opportunity to only purchase what they need initially and expand as their budget and security requirements grow in the future.

With less than 5,000 students, East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) is a great example of a smaller institution with big dreams for their campus card system. In 2015, EMCC made the decision to migrate their campus card platform to TotalCard, a BadgePass product, giving them the cost-effective solution they needed with the long term functionality and flexibility they required.

The first step of migration was implementing a new ID software, BadgePass Identity Manager. “TotalCard’s badge production module, Identity Manager, couldn’t be easier to use. When we switched from our previous software to this, I think we spent 5-10 minutes training the library staff and sent a short email to them to describe the process. It’s that easy,” explained Jeff Harrell, Network Administrator at EMCC.

Though the campus may not be home to tens of thousands of students like some larger universities, their data integration requirements are still of upmost priority. “When implementing TotalCard, one of our biggest concerns was being able to seamlessly integrate with our existing SIS database for easier card production for students and faculty members,” stated Harrell. “We created a few SQL views that include information such as name, ID number, meal plans and housing number. Since all the information comes directly from our SIS system, the library staff, who issue the ID cards, have no extra data entry to do.”

Data integration can often seem daunting to colleges and universities, especially smaller schools with less available IT resources. Implementing a system with customizable data integration tools allows these schools to work with their campus card system provider and ensure that data needed from the student information system is automatically imported into their badging and card privilege management system on a schedule or immediately upon update. Even more importantly, integration with the school’s database allows for automatic deactivation of users and credentials when someone is removed from the system or deactivated, eliminating time consuming and costly extra deactivation steps.

“One of my favorite things about the TotalCard system is being able to offer customers of all sizes all of the features and functionality they need, including customized data integration capabilities, at an affordable price point,” commented Lindsay Martin-Nez, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Indirect Sales at BadgePass. “We work with schools with student populations of over 30,000 and others with student bodies of less than 500. That diversity in a customer base allows us to better understand the needs of all campuses, no matter what the size.”

BadgePass, headquartered in Ridgeland, MS is home to the fastest growing campus one card system in the industry. Customers are located across the country, each home to a variety of campus card applications best suited for their individual requirements.

“We’ve had TotalCard from BadgePass for many years now,” explained Derek Pace of East Central Community College. “When we started with the system we only implemented bookstore management, then meal plan management and point of sale. However, we know the system offers us the flexibility we need to gradually expand as our needs grow down the line.”

As mentioned, integration to the SIS database was important to EMCC. No matter what campus one card system used, getting everything working together is very important. If you struggle with getting all systems synced, you may be able to benefit by using Identity Manager card production software. If you do not currently use TotalCard, here are some questions to consider.

What is the one true, accurate student database at your institution – the Student Information System or the campus one card database? At most institutions, the one true, accurate database is SIS. The SIS is where the campus one card system should get its data from, not the other way around.

What database should the ID card issuing software connect to or sync with? Most campuses choose to connect to the SIS database as that is the true, accurate one. Most SIS databases have a field for student photo, but it may not be populated. Connecting the ID card issuing system directly with the SIS database allows the photo to be stored for other uses, such as faculty/staff being able to view images. Any fields stored in SIS, like photo and card number, can be sent to the campus one card system.

What other systems need to be updated when an ID card is activated or replaced/de-activated? This is such a key consideration. Think about everything on your campus that uses the ID card. Door access control, library, food service, attendance systems and many other applications may need to receive new or modified ID card information. If the syncing of data to your various databases is not automated, it creates a huge security and accuracy problem.