All-Purpose IDs to Offer One-Card Convenience

Photograph: The new Columbia ID card.

Columbia will begin a new phase of digital services next month, with the introduction of new Columbia ID cards and installation of ATM banking machines on campus. These two improvements are a step toward what University officials intend to be a one-card system on campus for banking, dining and library services, copying, vending machines, phone calls and laundry.

"In the future, you won't have to carry money around. You just need this card," said Mark Burstein, vice president for student services. "It's about convenience and security."

The ID cards will be issued to all 50,000 of the University's students, faculty and staff over the next year. The cards are digitally generated on computer, which will eliminate the voluminous paper files and speed the process of issuing the cards, according to Joseph Ienuso, director, finance and administration for student services.

"The advantage is it's a single piece of plastic, which makes it more tamper-proof," Ienuso said. Also, social security numbers will no longer be used on the cards and will be replaced by random computer-generated numbers that will be unique to each card.

The ATM machines, to be installed by March 1, will be located in the entrance to John Jay Hall, the lobby of Dodge Physical Fitness Center and outside the copy center in the International Affairs Building. The ATMs in John Jay Hall will be open 24-hours, with a security guard stationed nearby.

The other machines are in secure, busy areas of campus and are convenient to various populations of the Columbia community.

ATM machines have not been on the Morningside campus since 1973, when Chemical Bank pulled out. The new ATMs are "bank neutral" machines that will accept most bank cards for cash withdrawals.

"There has been an incredible outcry from students and other members of the Columbia community that ATMs haven't been available," Burstein said. "This will be a real convenience for all of us, and it increases security. We won't have to leave campus to go to a cash machine."

Process Begins

The process of issuing new ID cards begins March 1, starting with faculty and staff members who will receive a letter inviting them to obtain new cards. Students will be issued their cards as new students arrive or current students need their cards replaced.

"We'll have a new card in everyone's hand within a year," Burstein said. For faculty and staff, the ID card will be renewed every two years with a newly made card. For every renewal, a new photo will be taken.

In September, Burstein hopes to enhance the use of Dining Dollars and incorporate other financial transactions onto the new ID card.

Ienuso explained that the new card system will use the data base of student and faculty that was set up by Academic Information Systems (AcIS). That means that names and ID numbers will not have to be typed onto the card, but will appear on new computer stations in the ID center in Kent.

One Card for All

The photo will also be generated on the computer screen and the image transferred directly onto the card, without need for film.

The one-card system on campus has been in the planning stages for some time. Last spring, Columbia administrators were ready to sign a contract with a digitized card company, when that company withdrew from negotiations. Columbia then proceeded on its own, putting together a customized one-card system for campus.

"In the long run, it turned out to be a very good thing," Ienuso said.

Columbia University Record -- February 2, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 15