Lehigh University is migrating to MIFARE contactless smart cards in conjunction with the installation of Allegion aptiQ readers, as part of a larger effort to boost security at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania campus.
“The cards have additional keys built into them for greater security, which is the beauty of the MIFARE card technology,” says Jeff Seymour, access control manager at Lehigh University.
To aid in the transition to the new credentials, Lehigh will phase the system in over time. “We are not installing multi-class readers during the transition because not many of the academic buildings are currently on the existing access control system,” explains Seymour. “The few buildings in this phase that do have existing card access will be completed last in the process, and will have cards issued and programmed prior to the cut-over. This is happening now.”
MIFARE is the flagship contactless credential offered by manufacturer NXP. Despite the addition of contactless functionality, Lehigh will keep a mag stripe on the card for use on the university’s existing access control system, as well as for for declining-balance transactions.
As Seymour explains, one of the main reasons for the smart card project is to raise the level of security on campus. “Choosing a newer card and reader technology with greater expandability became a major factor,” he says. “After looking at the major players in the card technology market, MIFARE became the right choice for us. There was a little bit of a learning curve in terms of understanding how MIFARE technology can work for us, but once we understood the potential the decision was easy.”
The rollout of the new smart cards has already begun, with Lehigh faculty, staff, and emergency personnel all receiving new cards. “The students who need access to the buildings being completed in the current phase are being notified to exchange their old ID for a new one,” he explains. “This initial rollout will be completed before the Spring semester ends. Next year, all new freshmen will receive the new ID card with the new technology.”
Seymour explains that the new technology on the cards will only initially be used for access control. “But there are almost endless possibilities for using MIFARE card technology such as food service, vending, laundry, and even class attendance,” he adds.
Along with the card transition, Lehigh will also slowly replace its existing access control with a new system from Software House. “Because of the expense of replacing an entire system, we are progressing in phases,” explains Seymour. “The first phase is focusing on our academic buildings, with subsequent phases including administrative buildings, residence halls and athletic facilities.