Information Services

Replacement of Card Service systems to be carried out

The University of Edinburgh’s Card Services system is set to be replaced to boost usability and production.

The University’s software and hardware for making and managing cards will be updated to improve user experience and support Card Services staff.  These changes are planned to be carried out by summer 2023. 

New students collect their cards from the Main Library during Welcome Week 2021
New students collect their cards from the Main Library during Welcome Week 2021

Smartcard technology was adopted by the University in 2011 and the essential production technology and system components from this date are still in use. 

Although several in-house service enhancements have been made in the last decade, such as digital image upload for staff and students and an associated card services administration console, the smartcard system now needs to be replaced. This is because the card production process has become inefficient. 

Matriculation card
Example of current University of Edinburgh smartcards

The project to upgrade the card system will overhaul the Card Services staff interface, as well as card production software, hardware and makers, and maintenance. 

Almost half of all cards are produced between July and September, for new and returning students, meaning the new processes and production methods must be in place by June 2023.

Card image uploading systems and administration will also be revamped, and the project will explore the potential future use of smartphone technology as an additional identification token and alternative to the current cards. 

As part of the initial implementation, the project aims , if possible, to improve card user experience by enhancing the current, rudimentary image upload system and make this available to others, such as visitors. 

A requirement for any replacement card management system will be to produce both the existing card type and potential future more advanced card types, which would allow new card functions to be introduced, such as making them interoperable with local public transport.

New card printers, software and simplified card integrations will see faster card production with fewer interruptions and reduced waiting times for users requiring printed cards on demand. 

They will additionally decrease pressure on Card Services staff. And it is hoped that a potential new single infrastructure, support and maintenance supplier will boost on-site support and overcome current and future firmware and software challenges.