Download PDF version Contact company

Can an owl help keep a 12,000-student university safe? It can when it’s designed into the identity card program at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), whose mascot is the Fighting Owl. SCSU, spanning 168 acres in New Haven, Conn., is in the midst of a $230 million campus renovation that includes the introduction of a Hoot Loot card for identification.

With a student population of 12,000 in 115 graduate and undergraduate programs, the university believes campus security is a critical component of the renovation. It needed to replace its paper ID cards and laminated photos with a more modern, more durable multi-purpose identification card for all university students, staff and faculty.

Effective Identification System

The university’s outdated card printing system was no longer filling the school’s needs"

Found In 2006, Mark Waters, Director of Financial Business Applications, was hired as the Card Office Coordinator to set up the new ID card system, upgrading the paper ID cards with a plastic ID card system. When it came time for the upgrade, Jordan Jones, Card Office Assistant, knew where to go. “I’ve worked with ID Wholesaler for some time,” Jones said. “They directed us to Fargo because they knew our needs. We were impressed that Fargo received good reviews, especially in higher education applications.”

Mark and Jordan are advanced users,” said Amy Sanders, Account Manager, ID Wholesaler (www.IDWholesaler.com), the Fargo Value-Added Retailer. “When I first spoke with Jordan in April 2006, the university’s outdated card printing system was no longer filling the school’s needs. Jordan was beginning to research more reliable solutions, and the Fargo DTC550-LC was a perfect fit. It provided a reliable, cost-effective solution.”

Fargo DTC Printer

Jones and Waters chose this printer for several reasons. “We knew we wanted to print on two sides of the card,” said Waters, “and we also wanted a built-in encoder for magnetic stripes because the campus has many legacy devices that use magnetic stripe technology. We also wanted the printer to be a network printer. It was important that it be a standalone device and not tied to a desktop computer or server.” The Fargo printer is kept in a secure office in a secure building to prevent tampering.

Jones, who manages the day-to-day operation of the Card Office, which includes customer support, also wanted a printer that could handle the pace of output he needed. “We were impressed with the speed of the DTC,” he said. “It cut our card production time in half or better.” Likewise, its ease of use was important. “There are no cumbersome parts,” Jones added. “I like the WYSIWYG version of installing new ribbons, card media and laminate.”

Secure Access System

The Southern Connecticut State University system has grown to include seven part-time student employees who are trained to verify identity and produce ID cards

The lamination capability was important in providing durability for our students,” Jones continued. “We issue one card for the entire length of a student’s education here, which might be as long as five or six years. We want it to last.” A $10 replacement fee is assessed for the first card that is lost or stolen. After that, the cost increases to $20.

The Southern Connecticut State University system has grown to include seven part-time student employees who are trained to verify identity and produce ID cards. To obtain a card, students must present an official photo ID, such as a driver’s license, as well as their academic schedule or proof of enrollment. Faculty, staff and others must present a photo ID and a letter of authorisation to verify affiliation with the university and entitlement to an ID card.

Hoot Loot ID Card

The cards serve a myriad of purposes. “First and foremost, the Hoot Loot card is a mandatory ID card for everybody on campus,” said Waters. “It is important that we be able to identify who actually belongs here and who doesn’t.” Currently, there are several different versions of the ID card, identifying undergraduate, graduate, full-time and part-time students; administration; faculty; staff; faculty emeritus and contractors.

After the Virginia Tech shooting incident in April 2007, a change was made in the orientation of the SCSU cards. Student cards are printed horizontally because they are carried in purses and wallets. Faculty and staff cards are printed vertically, in a badge format, and expected to be worn at all times. “We want our faculty and staff to be easily identifiable as authority figures on campus,” said Jones.

The SCSU Hoot Loot ID card can be used both on and off campus

Hoot Loot Card Readers

The SCSU Hoot Loot ID card can be used both on and off campus. For the 2,600 students living on campus, a magnetic stripe on the card provides access to their residence hall, where users need to enter a pre-programmed PIN after swiping their card in the card reader. For all students, the card can be used for access to the university’s computer labs as well as for health services, laundry machines, the bookstore, fitness centre and vending machines.

A bar code on the card enables users to check out library books at the Hilton C. Buley Library, while the magnetic stripe enables them to pay library fines or use self-service copiers and color printers there. Hoot Loot card holders can also access SCSU’s online Web service, called BannerWeb, thanks to the individual’s unique eight-digit identification number printed on the card.

Smart Payment Solution

Off campus, students can use Hoot Loot cards at a wide variety of locations, from Greek restaurants to gas stations and UPS stores. Not surprisingly, a large number of local pizza restaurants accept the Hoot Loot card for payment. Hoot Loot cardholders can also receive discounts nationwide through a Student Advantage Discount Card membership, which can be incorporated into the card itself.

Not only does use of the Hoot Loot card lessen the need to carry cash, adding to a student’s personal safety, but it also helps students avoid credit card interest fees and the possibility of overdrawing a bank account. The debit account carries over from year to year and is protected if reported lost or stolen.

Campus And Facility Access Solution

The Food Loot information is stored on the Hoot Loot card to simplify the process

Students, faculty and staff can add money to a Hoot Loot card at five locations on campus or through a secure online centre, called MyCard Online, where they can also check their card balance, print out their card history or change their PIN.

Resident students who sign up for a meal plan are required to participate in Food Loot, a declining balance plan for use at on-campus dining facilities, including the main dining hall, student centre cafe and on-campus convenience stores. Food Loot requires that students living in kitchen-equipped rooms have $300 in Food Loot per semester. Others must have at least $50 per semester, in addition to their traditional board meal plan. The Food Loot information is stored on the Hoot Loot card to simplify the process.

Card-Based Security

Card-based security has become more of an issue with the increase in multi-function, campus wide ID cards,” Sanders added. “The cards at SCSU are used for so much more than just a photo ID that lamination has become a necessity, not only for security purposes, but also for enhanced durability.”

Waters knew even back in 2000 that schools looking at ID card programs should view their primary purpose as providing a service to the students, faculty and staff. “If they always keep that in mind,” he said, “everything they do will at least stay even with the curve.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What New Technologies And Trends Will Shape Video Analytics?
What New Technologies And Trends Will Shape Video Analytics?

The topic of video analytics has been talked and written about for decades, and yet is still one of the cutting-edge themes in the physical security industry. Some say yesterday’s analytics systems tended to overpromise and underdeliver, and there are still some skeptics. However, newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are reinvigorating the sector and enabling it to finally live up to its promise. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What new technologies and trends will shape video analytics in 2021?

Tackling The Challenge Of The Growing Cybersecurity Gap
Tackling The Challenge Of The Growing Cybersecurity Gap

The SolarWinds cyberattack of 2020 was cited by security experts as “one of the potentially largest penetrations of Western governments” since the Cold War. This attack put cybersecurity front and center on people’s minds again. Hacking communication protocol The attack targeted the US government and reportedly compromised the treasury and commerce departments and Homeland Security. What’s interesting about the SolarWinds attack is that it was caused by the exploitation of a hacker who injected a backdoor communications protocol.  This means that months ahead of the attack, hackers broke into SolarWinds systems and added malicious code into the company’s software development system. Later on, updates being pushed out included the malicious code, creating a backdoor communication for the hackers to use. Once a body is hacked, access can be gained to many. An explosion of network devices What has made the threat of cyberattacks much more prominent these days has been IT's growth in the last 20 years, notably cheaper and cheaper IoT devices. This has led to an explosion of network devices. IT spending has never really matched the pace of hardware and software growth Compounding this issue is that IT spending has never really matched the pace of hardware and software growth. Inevitably, leading to vulnerabilities, limited IT resources, and an increase in IoT devices get more attention from would-be hackers. Bridging the cybersecurity gap In the author’s view, this is the main reason why the cybersecurity gap is growing. This is because it inevitably boils down to counter-strike versus counter-strike. IT teams plug holes, and hackers find new ones, that is never going to stop. The companies must continue fighting cyber threats by developing new ways of protecting through in-house testing, security best practice sources, and both market and customer leads. End-user awareness One of the key battlegrounds here is the education of end-users. This is an area where the battle is being won at present, in the author’s opinion. End-users awareness of cybersecurity is increasing. It is crucial to educate end-users on what IoT devices are available, how they are configured, how to enable it effectively, and critically, how to use it correctly and safely. Physical security network A valuable product that tackles cybersecurity is, of course, Razberi Monitor™, which is new to ComNet’s portfolio. Monitor™ is a software platform that provides a top-down view of the physical security network and ecosystem. Monitor™ is a software platform that provides a top-down view of the physical security network and ecosystem It monitors and manages all the system components for cybersecurity and system health, providing secure visibility into the availability, performance, and cyber posture of servers, storage, cameras, and networked security devices. Proactive maintenance By intelligently utilizing system properties and sensor data, Razberi’s award-winning cybersecurity software prevents problems while providing a centralized location for asset and alert management. Monitor™ enables proactive maintenance by offering problem resolutions before they become more significant problems. Identifying issues before they fail and become an outage is key to system availability and, moreover, is a considerable cost saving.

Will Airport Security’s Pandemic Measures Lead To Permanent Changes?
Will Airport Security’s Pandemic Measures Lead To Permanent Changes?

Travel volumes at airports have been increasing of late, although still below the 2.5 million or so passengers the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened every day, on average, before the pandemic. As passengers return, they will notice the airport security experience has changed during the pandemic – and many of the changes are likely to continue even longer. Need for touchless technology The lowest U.S. air travel volume in history was recorded last April, with approximately 87,500 passengers. As passenger traffic plummeted, the aviation community sought to explore the potential of new technologies to make security checkpoints more contactless and flexible when the traffic numbers return. The pandemic has seen an increase in touchless technology deployed in the screening area. Used for cabin baggage screening, Computed Tomography (CT) produces high-quality, 3-D images to enable a more thorough analysis of a bag’s contents. Imaging Technology Millimeter-wave body scanners began replacing metal detectors globally as a primary screening method Enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT), which uses non-ionizing radio-frequency energy in the millimeter spectrum, safely screens passengers without physical contact for threats such as weapons and explosives, which may be hidden under a passenger’s clothing. Millimeter-wave body scanners began replacing metal detectors globally as a primary screening method.  AI algorithms Other innovations include an automatic screening lane, centralized image processing, and artificial intelligence (AI). Looking ahead, AI algorithms have the ability to clear most passengers and bags automatically, making the process smoother and freeing up staff to focus only on alarms. The pandemic’s need for contactless screening may accelerate the adoption of AI.   CAT machine Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) machines automatically verify identification documents presented by passengers during the screening process. The TSA continues to accept expired Driver’s Licenses and state-issued IDs for up to a year after expiration, based on the premise that license renewals may be delayed and/or more difficult during the pandemic. The REAL ID enforcement deadline was extended to Oct. 1, 2021.  Health precautions Checkpoint health precautions have been a part of the airport screening experience since early in the pandemic. Last summer, the TSA announced the “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign, which included requirements such as social distancing among travelers, ID verification without physical contact, plastic shielding installed at various locations, and increased cleaning and disinfecting. In January 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order requiring travelers to wear face masks when in airports and other transportation facilities (to remain in effect until May 11). Checkpoint screening Clear is a privately owned company that provides expedited security that uses biometrics either a person’s eyes or face to speed along the process of getting people through checkpoints. TSA officers wear masks and gloves at checkpoints and may also wear eye protection or clear plastic face shields. The limits on allowable liquids a passenger may take on board were broadened to include a hand sanitizer container of up to 12 ounces, one per passenger in a carry-on bag. a paradigm shift Just as aviation security changed after 9/11, the COVID-19 crisis is expected to lead to a paradigm shift to create a safer and more secure environment. Measures were implemented so that passengers, staff and other stakeholders could have continued assurance and confidence in airports amid and after the pandemic.