Deciding to re-card an entire college is a daunting prospect, but that’s exactly what Emerson College set out to do this year when they replaced their old ID card system with contactless card technology. Located in Boston’s theater district, the school’s eight buildings on campus see thousands of visitors walk by every day. The new contactless system provides the school with increased security and greater flexibility for access control, information management, and cashless payment.


Emerson’s previous system relied on magnetic stripe technology. Students gained access to buildings on campus by walking past a guard post and presenting their student ID cards to first enter a building and again to enter the dormitories, which are located on the upper floors.
Using both magnetic stripe encoding and contactless card technology, Emerson’s new student ID cards are much harder duplicate, increasing security for students on campus. The cards feature contactless smart card technology from HID iCLASS for access control. Magnetic stripe technology provides debit capabilities. In addition to streamlining access control, the new contactless system provides a central location for handling payroll, student information, admissions, and finances.
HID iCLASS card readers are installed in about 50 locations around campus. When students use their cards to gain access to buildings their picture comes up on a screen located at the guard post. Security guards can then match the picture on the screen to the photo on the student ID cards without students needing to physically present their cards to the guard. Magnetic stripe readers are installed at the dining halls, laundry rooms, and vending and copying machines. Emerson students can even use the new cards at a handful of off-campus businesses.
The college has plans to expand the capabilities of their contactless program. Emerson is testing an elevator card reader that would control access to certain floors of some of the dormitories.
Visit AlphaCard’s Learning Center to learn more about HID access control systems