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Can My Smaller Campus Afford a Campus Card System?

Small Campuses Still Have Big Needs

Historically, many smaller universities and community colleges have shied away from true “one card” systems, with larger price tags and staffing requirements often giving them pause. More recently, however, we’re noticing a major transition as institutions of all sizes are looking to benefit from a true campus card system without the initial hefty investment of the past.

More campus card systems have begun offering scalable and modular systems, giving even the smallest colleges an opportunity to benefit from one system to manage all of their on-campus card systems and applications. With cloud-hosted offerings, pricing can drop even more significantly, as campuses no longer need to worry about the hardware and staffing requirements associated with on-campus servers.  The flexibility of systems today gives them an opportunity to only purchase what they need initially and expands as budget and security requirements grow in the future.

With less than 5,000 students, East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) is a great example of a smaller institution with big dreams for their campus card system. In 2015, EMCC made the decision to migrate their campus card platform to TotalCard, a BadgePass product, giving them the cost-effective solution they needed with the long-term functionality and flexibility they required.

The first step of migration was implementing new ID software in the form of BadgePass Identity Manager. “TotalCard’s badge production module, Identity Manager, couldn’t be easier to use,” explains Jeff Harrell, Network Administrator at EMCC. “When we switched from our previous software to this, I think we spent 5-10 minutes training the library staff and sent a short email to them to describe the process. It’s that easy.”

Though the campus may not be home to tens of thousands of students like some larger universities, EMCC’s data integration requirements are still of upmost priority. “When implementing TotalCard, one of our biggest concerns was being able to seamlessly integrate with our existing student information system database for easier card production for students and faculty members,” Harrell says. “We created a few SQL views that include information such as name, ID number, meal plans and housing number. Since all the information comes directly from our student information system, the library staff who issue the ID cards have no extra data entry to do.”

As mentioned, integration to the student information system database was important to EMCC. No matter the campus one card system being used, getting everything working together is very important. Here are some questions to consider:

Which is the one true, accurate student database at your institution – the student information system or the campus one card database?

At most institutions the one, truly accurate database is student information system. It is where the campus one-card system should get its data from, not the other way around.

What database should the ID card issuing software connect to or sync with?

Most campuses choose to connect to the student information system database, as that is typically the more accurate and up-to-date. Most have a field for student photo, but it may not be populated. Connecting the ID card issuing system directly with this database allows the photo to be stored for other uses, such as faculty/staff being able to view images. Any fields stored in the student information system, like photo and card number, can be sent to the campus one card system.

What other systems need to be updated when an ID card is activated or replaced/de-activated?

This is a key consideration. Think about everything on your campus that uses the ID card. Door access control, library, food service, attendance systems and many other applications may need to receive new or modified ID card information. If the syncing of data to your various databases is not automated, it creates a huge security and accuracy problem.

Integration is Key

Data integration can often seem daunting to colleges and universities, especially smaller campuses with less available IT resources. Implementing a system with customizable data integration tools allows these institutions to work with their campus card system provider and ensure that data needed from the student information system is automatically imported into their badging and card privilege management system on a schedule or immediately upon update.

Even more importantly, integration with the institution’s database allows for automatic deactivation of users and credentials when someone is removed from the system or deactivated, eliminating unnecessary, time consuming and costly deactivation steps.

Another campus that has been on board with BadgePass’ TotalCard solution for a number of years is Decatur, Mississippi’s East Central Community College. “When we started with the system we only implemented bookstore management, then meal plan management and point of sale,” explains Derek Pace of East Central Community College. “However, we know the system offers us the flexibility we need to gradually expand as our needs grow down the line.”

“One of my favorite things about the TotalCard system is being able to offer customers of all sizes all of the features and functionality they need, including customized data integration capabilities, at an affordable price point,” says Lindsay Martin-Nez, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Indirect Sales at BadgePass. “We work with schools with student populations of over 30,000 and others with student bodies of less than 500. That diversity in a customer base allows us to better understand the needs of all campuses, no matter what the size.”

The Right Solution from the ISG

BadgePass solutions are available to colleges and universities through the Identification Systems Group (ISG), a nationwide dealer channel focused on delivering quality on-site service and support. There are 32 ISG dealers that together cover the whole of the US and Canada. Combined, ISG maintains 90 locations and some 200 field-service technicians.

Contact us today for more information about the solutions mentioned here.

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