Tapping into New Technology

COLLEEN BOYLE
News Correspondent

You may have noticed first-year students and even some faculty and upperclassmen using royal cards that no longer need to be swiped at every use.

As of the summer of 2017, University Tech Services teamed up with Near Field Communication (NFC) to produce a royal card with a chip feature that allows for touch less and quick transactions. These new cards are undoubtedly more efficient, but the technology required to use them is not found across campus, and not everyone has them.

The new Royal cards were introduced at Orientation in June where first-year students were informed of the switch and the benefits of the new technology, according to Patrick Mullarkey, administrator of Systems Infrastructure Services here at The University.

“Over the past few years, we have been implementing dual process which would allow us to continue to utilize magnetic stripe technology while planning for the eventual move to NFC technology,” Mullarkey said in an email interview.

Though incoming first-year and transfer students received their cards at orientation, all other students are left with their cards from the previous academic year, which do not have NFC technology. With the exception of card damage, the current cost of replacement is $10, which is billed at the end of the student’s tuition statement. This policy will not change in the coming years, and many other colleges implementing similar technology have increased prices for card replacement.

“We wanted to continue to offer the lowest price for replacement for our students,” Mullarkey said.

Both the magnetic stripe and the chip are found in the new cards, which are said to have a longer lifespan due to the stripe no longer failing from overuse. Since the old cards are universally accepted across campus, those who wish to update their card will have to pay the $10 fee.

“We have plans for the next four years to upgrade all magnetic stripe technology to NFC technology across campus, allowing cardholders to tap their card rather than swipe their card for every transaction,” Mullarkey said.

Once all cardholders on campus receive the NFC chip technology, the magnetic stripe will be eliminated from all cards and only the chip will be used. More information on this process was shared in the campus blog IT Matters in August

“By 2020, we will have NFC on all Royal Card devices on campus, which includes over 250 door readers, 45 laundry readers, and 25 point of sale devices,” according to IT Matters.

These new readers and devices can be found on first floor DeNaples in the POD and food court, outside of certain residence halls, and on the third floor dining hall. Chip readers are currently absent in locations such as the Mulberry POD, Bleecker Street in LSC, and Einstein Bros. Bagels.

The community is happy that there is now a faster and more efficient way to keep students moving throughout the day. Joan Perry, who works as a cashier at the first floor food court, was excited to see the new technology being used to make checkout processes faster.

“It’s great and much easier, but not everybody has them,” Perry said.

One popular site of Scranton students and faculty that lacks the new technology is the Starbucks on first floor DeNaples. Though employees have observed that the chip makes things a lot easier, they do not have the option of installing chip readers at their cash registers.

Their current swipe machines are a third-party system which serves as an extension to their Starbucks server. The technology needed to install another extension for the chip reader is not readily available at this time. However, plans are underway for a renovation of the Starbucks that will take place next summer. Along with the new store could come an updated system that can accommodate the new cards.

Though some updates to campus readers cannot take place until 2018 and later, many changes will occur this academic year.

“This year we will be adding NFC technology to 23 more doors and to 6 point of sale devices in the DeNaples center,” according to IT Matters.

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