Information Services

Huge overhaul of Card Service systems to be carried out

The University of Edinburgh’s Card Services system is set to undergo a huge overhaul to boost usability, security and production.

Physical cards and the University’s software and hardware for making and managing cards will be updated to improve user experience and support Card Services staff.  

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

The overhaul will affect all members of the University community and is planned to be carried out by summer 2022. 

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, and the card type is no longer considered entirely secure or fit for purpose. 

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, maintenance and the overall card type. 

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 2022. 

Every new arrival at the university will receive one of the new cards, and old cards will be substituted with the updated version for returning students. 

Card image uploading systems and administration will also be revamped, and the project will explore the use of smartphone technology in replacing the current cards. 

Developments in smartphone technology could be used for identity, door access and service provision purposes. 

The project aims to improve card user experience by enhancing the current, rudimentary image upload system and make this available to others, such as visitors. 

New card functions could also be introduced, such as making them interoperable with local public transport.  

Changes to the cards will further boost card security and prevent the risk of cloning. 

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.