01 January, 2003
Vision Database Systems (VDS) has the education market for ID software pretty well covered–from kindergarten all the way through college. But while the Jupiter, Florida-based company is well-entrenched in the K-12 market, its roots, and its forte remain in higher ed.
VDS has a perfect client retention record for the 2003-04 year but there’s no time to sit still. The market for campus cards, smart cards, and secure IDs is booming, and the company has much to offer.
Chris Rizetto, Director of Higher Education for VDS, says the reason for the 100% customer retention was due to “outstanding customer/technical support on an individual and personal basis.” But the success goes a lot deeper than that. You have to have software that works and why the K-12 and higher education markets continue to seek out the company’s products.
You only have to look at VDS’s beginnings to realize how rapidly things can change. The company started out in 1991 as an imaging development company for medical, dental, and ophthalmic systems.
“After two or three years we evolved into ID software development,” said Chris Rizzetto. Today, the company specializes in both ID card production and imaging solutions as well as card-based tracking and eligibility verification software.
The company serves 550 customers through direct sales. Add in resellers and partnerships and that figure exceeds 1,000 clients. In addition to education markets, VDS also services corporations, libraries, professional athletic organizations, and state, local, and foreign governments.
Higher education clients range in size from 1,000 (Lindsay Wilson College, Columbia, Kentucky) to more than 100,000 cardholders (Miami-Dade Community College in Florida). Other college customers include the University of Central Florida near, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale; the University of Utah; the University of California at Riverside; the University of Arizona; and VDS’s newest installation, Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
“RapIDcard is our trademark. It’s the ID software that actually produces the cards,” says Ms. Rizetto. They offer several versions of the software ranging from the elite IDMS (ID Management System) to Pro, Standard, and Lite versions. “The software is developed in-house,” says Ms. Rizzetto, “and can easily integrate with other systems because it can be run on almost any database engine.” The system includes ID number, ISO and library number generation and management as well as a 2D superscript encoded barcode to store fingerprints and other personal information such as a photo or medical history. It works with most popular printer brands and all card types.
RapIDstatus allows for on and off-line tracking and verification. It can be used for event management, eligibility verification, and tracking for loyalty, required labs, etc. It has a built-in interface to RapIDcard, but can be used with any ID system or database, said Ms. Rizzetto. “It can ensure that eligibility requirements are met, such as whether the students are currently enrolled and if activity fees have been paid.”
The company’s newest product provides on and off-line verification of the 2D superscript barcode developed by Datastrip. RapIDverify decrypts the information in the 2D barcode such as fingerprint, photo, medical history, etc. With a fingerprint reader attached it can verify and compare the fingerprint on the card to the fingerprint of the person presenting the ID card.
“We have clients using different types of back-end software-Blackboard, iTeam, SmartCity, and Debitek-to name a few. Whether using a smart card, mag stripe, bar code, or proximity, our ID system will interface with those other systems, in either a real time manner or via batch processing. The same holds true for the administrative systems like Peoplesoft, SCT Banner, or homegrown solutions,” she adds.
Though 75% of the company’s business comes from education, the corporate market hasn’t been ignored either. One of the largest providers of correctional facilities management, Wackenhut, uses VDS products. Another large non-education client is the National Basketball Association and its sister organization, the Womens National Basketball Association.
“We also provide drivers license systems in Mexico and Bolivia. Other corporate accounts include Consolidated Biscuit–the makers of Oreo Cookies–as well as a handful of public libraries,” said Ms. Rizzetto.
What about the future?
“Our new offerings will involve advanced handheld and tracking solutions; biometrics for attended and unattended access/identification; time and attendance; and a brand new card design module in our RapIDcard software,” says Ms. Rizetto. “Solutions for the future must be simplistic, portable, and fairly inexpensive to the consumer as well as be able to adapt and expand to take advantage of changing technology.”
“Many campuses are centralizing systems and are looking for solutions that can easily utilize universal data. Many are looking for niche solutions, where the multi-vendor approach comes into play. The client benefits and gets the best of all aspects of the card areas, and is not reliant on just one vendor. Basically, in the multi-vendor approach, if one vendor isn’t holding up their end through service, support, or software functionality, that one vendor can be replaced without the whole program falling apart causing the client to replace the entire system.”
Adds Emil Bonaduce, President and CEO of the company: “in the future, Vision Database Systems will continue to focus upon the development and support of products which automate photo ID card use. In addition to standard ID carding, this will include a proliferation of photo automation software using PDAs, wireless, RFID, and other technologies now in their infancy. Vision Database will be a market leader in photo ID tracking as well as photo ID carding.”
The VDS web site can be found at www.visiondatabase.com.