Icelandic university warms up to prox card technology
- By Harm Radstaak
- Jul 01, 2011
Reykjavik University is a vibrant international university located in the heart of Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. The university is Iceland’s largest private university and focuses on research, excellence in teaching, entrepreneur ship, technology development and cooperation with the active business community.
RU has been happily using HID proximity technology to secure its buildings for many years. About three years ago, though, the university decided to build a larger, more modern facility to accommodate all of the university’s five degree courses in the future.
Designing this new facility for RU was not an overnight task. Many hours of planning and research were put in to ensure the best possible facility. The university’s technical manager, Ellert Igni Harđarson, spent almost a year researching the applications and products that could be suitable for the new building, and in the course of his research, he also met with HID Global at its EMEA offices in Haverhill, United Kingdom.
To make the new building a success, RU worked closely with Securitas Iceland, which, with the university’s building consultant Eirikur K. Torbjornsson, designed a solution to fit the university’s vision.
This vision was to have an almost “key-free” building, not only to increase the convenience and security for students and staff but also to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Whatever solution the university would choose today needed also to be able to grow and fulfill future requirements of a high-tech system and building.
“Our vision is to have a true multi-application smart card that in the future can be enabled for cashless vending, canteen, on-demand printing, photo ID, library, use of lockers and maybe more,” Ellert said. “We also are working with the wider community to extend the use of student cards for public services, such as for buses, the museum and swimming pools. We really would like to see the use of smart cards adopted even beyond the boundaries of the university and make the advantages of multi-application ID cards available to everyone.”
“By planning for a true multi-application future from the start, with this project we were able to ensure a quick return on investment for the university,” Eirikur said.
Content with the existing solution and after much research, the university decided to transition to HID iCLASSR, using both multi-technology cards and readers. Officials considered iCLASS a cost-effective and convenient choice as it made the migration to smart cards simple.
“From the outset, it was important for us that students who were issued access cards for the old building would be able to use their cards and gain access also in the new building,” Ellert said.
The university charges students a nominal fee for the cards, which according to Ellert has helped to reduce card loss to almost zero because students begin to value their cards instantly.
The system now installed at the university extends the boundaries of access control and has seamlessly integrated lighting, electronics and room-allocation control.
“We are trying not only to provide a secure and high-tech facility for our students and staff, but to also be green and conscious of our environment around us,” Ellert said. “Such integrated solutions help us to learn about how rooms and areas within the university are used, allowing us to become ever more intelligent and efficient.”
Today, the multi-technology smart cards provide about 4,000 students access to all the university buildings. By uploading to the university’s intranet, a student can receive his or her card on the first day of school with all his or her details and a photo already printed on it.
“We use a Fargo HDP5000, which is handled by our receptionists, who are able to deliver cards to new students even during the busy periods at the beginning of term,” Ellert said.
The cards are used throughout the old and the new buildings to gain access to classrooms, lab rooms and study areas 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The new campus is not yet complete, and use of the current facility was extended last August.
“Iceland itself is a very-forward thinking country, and most of our local and international students have been in touch with smart cards and access control cards before, therefore the adoption of smart cards was very quick, and we have received very good feedback from our students and staff so far,” Eirikur said.
Ellert and Eirikur concluded by saying that they are excited about the possible future uses and applications for their smart cards, hoping that one day soon the university cards can be used on the local bus, the public library and even at the theater.
“RU has the determination to think big, to always improve the university’s ability and to decisively carry out our plans,” Ellert said.
This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Security Today.