In-house or service bureau?
Re-issuing more than 21,000 ID cards to an entire student population poses an interesting problem, one that Lisa Powers, director of TigerOne Card Services at Clemson University, was tasked with solving.
Powers had to figure out how to re-card the entire school population over a short winter break. At the same time, the school prepped for a migration of its physical access control systems and the changing of its ID card numbers for the student population.
On a day-to-day basis, card office staff issues replacement IDs and during new student orientations they often print several hundred badges for incoming students, Powers explains. But this job was too much for the card office to handle on its own.
Clemson investigated renting card printers, hiring temporary workers and doing it in house. We determined that it didn’t make sense financially and would have been difficult to manage time wise, Powers explains. She notes that they were also adding a custom laminate to the ID cards, which required even more time to produce.
Instead the university put out bids to card service bureaus ultimately selecting ColorID. The company was also able to meet all the deadlines and the bid was under budget, Powers says. “We got them the information in October and they returned it to us by Thanksgiving,” she adds.
The new ID card includes magnetic stripe, proximity and HID Global’s iCLASS contactless technology, Powers says. The card is used for physical access to residence halls, rec center access, library patron identification, athletic ticketing, declining balance and off-campus merchant acceptance. “We made the decision to look at a card that had technology we could use to plan for the future,” she adds.
As well as switching out physical access control systems, Clemson was also switching card system providers and migrating to an ISO numbering scheme.
Making sure the data was formatted correctly for the new system was a primary concern. Clemson kept photos of students in the database so new pictures didn’t have to be captured, though students could come in and take a new photo if they wanted, Powers says. There were instances where a photo wasn’t on record, and these students were required to come in to take another photo.
Clemson also gave students the option to submit photos online, Powers explains, an option previously available only to incoming students. Initially this was a little slow going and students were not following the posted guidelines. “The approval rate was low but we’re going to give it another try with clear and concise guidelines to let the students know what will work,” she adds.
To distribute the new IDs to the students after the winter break, the card office rented out a ballroom at a central location on campus that was open from 8 am to 6 pm.
Overall, the process went well. Clemson is back to issuing cards replacement cards in house, but the experience did lead staff to modify the process for incoming students. Before orientation students receive an email that walks them though the steps to access to the Clemson network. From there they can submit a photo and have their ID card waiting for them when they show up for orientation.
Otherwise, students show up to orientation, have a picture taken, the card is printed and distributed the following day, Powers says. In the past the card office had set up a special enrollment facility to capture the photos and other information and then the students would wait an hour for their card to be produced.
Changing entrenched issuance processes
It takes a lot for a campus card office to change its card issuance processes. “The only time they are likely to change is if there’s a significant structural change,” says David Stallsmith, director of product management at ColorID.
He says that migrating campus card systems, adding new card technology or switching physical access systems are examples of the types of changes that might cause an office to reexamine card issuance. “These processes are pretty well entrenched otherwise,” Stallsmith explains.
For incoming students the card issuance process can go a few different ways. Students can enroll, have their picture taken and receive their card on the spot; they can receive the card an hour or a day later; or they can be enrolled during orientation and receive the card when they arrive on campus to begin classes.
The service bureau approach is not typically used on campus except in extreme cases like Clemson faced reissuing tens of thousands of cards, Stallsmith explains.
Student submitted photos: Clemson’s criteria
- Background must be plain white wall (no textures, patterns, or scenic backgrounds)
- Face straight ahead, No head tilts
- Face and shoulders centered within photo frame
- Cropped from just above the top of the head to the collarbone
- Wear colored clothing that can be seen
- No hats, sunglasses, glare on glasses, red eye, shadows, blurry or debutante photos
- Not too dark, bright, close or distant
- No other visible people or objects
- Saved in .jpg format only
- No larger than 400KB
- Color photo only