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Future-proof Multifunction Card System

Sponsored content by HID GLOBAL

Arizona State University (ASU) is one of the premier metropolitan public research universities in the U.S. Enrolling more than 57,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students on three campuses in metropolitan Phoenix, including the historic main campus in Tempe, ASU maintains a tradition of academic excellence in core disciplines, and has become an important global center for innovative interdisciplinary teaching and research.


Since 1997, ASU’s identification/access “Sun Card” system provided students with meal plan, debit and door access. Heightened security concerns led ASU to re-examine the university’s campus security requirements and identify a best-of-breed product that would provide state-of-the-art access control technology. The previous Sun Card system was based on a magnetic stripe card and readers, which were functional but offered limited flexibility to adapt to future technologies such as biometric identification. The ideal solution would be an advanced contactless smart card that could integrate a multitude of new identification technologies and applications as well as a magnetic stripe for use with existing readers on campus. The cards needed to be custom-printed and have a streamlined, sturdy design, ensuring the durability of the single-issue card throughout multiple years of constant use during a student’s time on campus.


The university evaluated both proximity and contactless smart card systems for a centralized campus-wide access control solution for doors, buildings and departments that could be integrated with other smart card applications. Henry Bros. Electronics, a leading end-to-end security solutions integrator based in Phoenix, was selected to implement the access control system and incorporated HID’s iCLASS® 13.56 MHz read/write contactless technology for its sophisticated features that enhance traditional RFID contactless technology, including cryptographic data storage, mutual authentication and secure reading and writing of data.

“With their expertise and reliability, HID® was our preferred integration partner, and the iCLASS card’s high-performance, contactless access control and identification technology capabilities provides ASU with a robust, reliable solution for today as well as giving this system the flexibility to address future security needs,” says Mike Tiffin, of Henry Bros. Electronics.

The new contactless HID card enables higher security than was previously available using the magstripe card, enabling ASU to use the system software to approve or deny access on any door at any time. Perimeter doors were brought online with HI0 iCLASS R10 and R40 iCLASS mullionmounted readers. To meet ADA requirements, an iCLASS reader is tied into a door operator and allows entry after a hardwired button is pressed and the valid card is presented. HID iCLASS mutual authentication technology insures that readers and cards are programmed to communicate prior to the reader sending any signal to the panel. This same authentication will occur any time the iCLASS card is used for IT security or other on-campus applications.

In addition, the new iCLASS-based technology is more flexible, offering unique time-zone and access-level setups not previously available. For example, labs may schedule access levels so that students can gain entrance to labs only at their appointed times.

The ASU Sun Card, a 16-bit composite iCLASS contactless smart card with magnetic stripe, is printed with the student’s photo along with the ASU logo. HID’s Corporate 1000 Program provides the university with a unique 35-bit card format developed specifi cally for ASU and furnishes over 1,000,000-plus individual card numbers within the assigned format. The assigned numbers are tracked during the manufacturing process to ensure that card numbers are never duplicated. These Corporate 1000 cards offer students a single, universal card to use throughout ASU’s campus.

The university plans to issue over 40,000 student and staff cards over the next two years at a rate of 20,000 per year.

The versatile iCLASS card is able to grow with the university’s access control system and add holograms, magstripe and biometrics.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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