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CardExchange Education Solutions

Safety and Security at All Levels of Education

In any grade school, college, or university, the safety and security of students and staff is incredibly important! For this reason, it is common place for all students and staff to be issued an ID card. However, many educational facilities are missing out on the power and potential that this one simple looking plastic card can offer. So just what can it do?

Student ID – In its most basic form, a card is typically printed with a photo, name, ID number, expiration date, and other relevant information about the holder. This is used as a quick and easy visual form of identification. In addition, the name and logo of the facility will also normally be included. The back of the card is just as important and is often overlooked and left blank. It is a useful place to show terms and conditions of use, a return address (should a member of the public find a lost card), or even useful information for the holder - such as phone numbers for key departments.

Access Control – Most of these systems now use contactless smart card technology such as a MIFARE or DESFire. With this technology, all the user has to do is present their card to the reader for it to be verified. This is much quicker and more efficient than having to swipe the card through a magnetic stripe reader. It also puts far less wear on the card surface. The reader will look-up their record in a central database to grant or deny access through each door or barrier.

Cashless Catering – As with the access control, contactless smart card technology is used to identify the card holder and confirm that they have sufficient funds in their account to make the purchase. Typically, the card is filled with credit online or via a kiosk. By using a card, students do not need to carry cash, which is safer, as there is no risk of it being lost or stolen. A visual check of the card holder is made when the card is used to ensure that they are the same person whose photo is printed on it. For a greater level of security, this can be combined with a biometric reader requiring both the card and a finger to be read and matched.

Photocopier Access – Normally located in public areas of a college or university, photocopiers/scanners/printers often have an access device fitted to them to allow students access to copy documents. In most cases this will be either magnetic stripe or contactless smart card reader. Access will be granted on a credit basis allowing the student to purchase additional credits to be added to their account.

Library – As most library systems are barcode based, a barcode can be printed on the card which is used to identify the student, lookup their account, and record the details of which books are borrowed from the library and when.

Student Registration – In certain applications, a 1D or 2D barcode can be printed on the card which is scanned in class or at other events to confirm attendance.

For all of these functions to co-exist on a single card, a large amount of data from different solution providers needs to be brought together in a single application. Thus, one application can manage the multiple database connections, photo capture, biometric/ID document scanning, card printing, and encoding.

CardExchange® Producer can connect to multiple databases at the same time to read information that may be used for card production and then simultaneously write back to one or all of them. For example, student information is read from an SQL database, access control from Oracle, and library from MS Access. As the card is printed and encoded, CardExchange® Producer writes back information such as the MIFARE serial number, print date & time, user name, and a count of how many times the record has been printed.

There really is no limit on what information can be read from or written back to any data source. This is particularly useful if you need to generate a print report showing information about cards printed, such as by who and when. This can be easily generated in MS Excel, as the cards are printed.

This level of powerful connectivity is very important during enrollment periods, as large numbers of students need to be issued with their ID cards at the start of the education year. If each card had to be manually setup on multiple systems the process would be extremely slow.

Device connectivity is not a problem for CardExchange® Producer. Most plastic ID card printers for both print and encoding, plain paper printers for reports etc., and even label printers are compatible with CardExchange® Producer. Each different layout can be linked to its own printer to prevent the operator from accidently printing to the wrong device. If it has a Windows™ printer driver, CardExchange® Producer can print to it. It doesn’t stop there as there is support for a wide range of cameras, signature tablets, biometric readers, and ID document scanners.

Multiple filters can be defined, these can either be set by the administrator at card level (i.e. they are automatically applied when the card is loaded) or as buttons which the user can select. Filters are incredibly powerful and can help to simplify tasks such as looking up all expired cards, all records which do not have a photo or all records which have not yet been printed. Card layouts can also be set conditionally to prevent, for example, an operator accidentally printing a student record to a staff card layout.

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To keep card production secure, the user login feature allows each operator to be assigned to an access level group where they can only see the options granted to them by an administrator and only carry out certain functions. For example, a user may be granted permission to capture photos and print student cards but not edit data nor print staff cards.

Student enrollment at the start of the education year is always a very busy time. Many new students arrive in a short amount of time, to amongst other things, collect their ID card. With this in mind, CardExchange® Producer has been developed to be simple for the user to learn and operate. With just a few clicks, the user can issue a student with a printed/encoded photo ID card, setup and ready to use:

  • The operator looks up the student record by entering the student ID number or surname.
  • The operator clicks the Take Photo button and captures a photo which can be automatically cropped to size.
  • If a digital signature is required, the operator clicks the Capture Signature button and the student signs using the connected pad.
  • The operator clicks Print Card. CardExchange® Producer prints and encodes the card and carries out all of the operations setup in the background, to store information back to databases and print reports. All without any user intervention.

For applications where there are multiple printers in use, the CardExchange® Producer SBS editions have additional functionality, in order to securely manage card printing/encoding over a network and streamline the card production and collection process. For the operator nothing changes, they capture the student information and print the card as normal but instead of it printing directly to a printer it goes to a dispatcher module. This module looks for available printers and distributes the print jobs evenly between each to prevent some receiving more work than others. If a printer goes offline (for example if it runs out of ribbon) then the dispatcher redirects all jobs to the other printers until it is back online. It can even sort the jobs, so for example, cards for students with a last name starting A to L are sent to one printer and those with a last name starting M to Z are sent to another.

In summary, a CardExchange® Producer installation can dramatically improve the efficiency and ease of operation of the card issuance process in any educational facility! Please note that the features mentioned are not all supported in all editions of CardExchange® Producer. This document is based upon the features of the Ultimate edition.

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