oneCARD for all

Tania MacWilliam
Jan. 19, 2012

*Link to original article here.

Sheridan has joined the ranks of Ryerson and Laurier universities with the implementation of the oneCARD.

The oneCARD will serve as student and employee identification as well as lend access to various school services.

The all-in-one design means no juggling between access cards, student IDs and credit or debit cards.

“We should have had this card years ago,” said Desmond Irvine, Sheridan’s director of information security and compliance. “Most universities and other colleges have similar programs.”

So why now? Rob Till, dean of student services, says it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

“Some of us have been fighting for [oneCARD] a long time,” he said. “I wanted it from the student services point of view, IT wants it for accessibility, security wants it for protection. So we wound up all coming together at the same time and the pilot was developed. From the pilot to the beginning of it took less than six months.”

And he says it was worth the wait.

“We’ve gone from not having it to having probably one of the best cards in the system.”

Efficiency was the overall intention when introducing the oneCARD, which will allow features to be added as they are developed and desired.

“The card is a lot more flexible,” said Irvine. “It gives us the ability to introduce new services and do different things. We’ve already started doing that at the Mississauga Campus, where the pilot program for the card was.”

Currently Sheridan’s oneCARD features only extend as far as accessing classrooms and labs. Which rooms a student can access will depend on the classes they are registered in.

Network printing with the oneCARD is currently only available to Hazel McCallion Campus students, but will expand to other campuses by 2013.

Keeping inline with Sheridan’s sustainability endeavours, there will be less waste with the new printing system.

“Here [Trafalgar] from the classroom you’re in, you can print to any number of printers,” said Irvine. “Sometimes people print inadvertently to the wrong one.”

With the new system, everyone prints to one queue. Then you can go to any printer on campus, tap your card, and all your print jobs print out. If one printer has a line up, you simply move on to the next one.

Other features that Sheridan students can look forward to are access to parking, meal plans and making vending machine purchases.

All features should be available by the 2013/2014 school year.

One of the more important reasons for replacing old student ID cards with the oneCARD, Irvine shares, is for increased security.

“You get a lot of people that wander in that don’t belong here and that can cause problems,” he said.

To help with identification, each card will have an assigned colour and background design, depending on who you are.

Employee cards have an abstract blue design while students have a Sheridan Bruins game scene on their background. Vendors, like food services or the bookstore, are given a green theme. Campus security has a purple theme.

Since the new card comes with a lanyard, the Sheridan community is expected to wear their identification while on campus, said Irvine. Wearing the card will allow everyone to know who you are at a glance.

“We want to know who belongs here at the college,” said Irvine.

Some students may be concerned about having to physically identify themselves. Steven Parfeniuk, Sheridan’s VP of finance, can empathize with students who are apprehensive about having to wear their card and wants to be respectful of how they feel.

“This will not be dictated,” he said. “This will be a partnership that we’ll deal with our student union, and all of our students, to understand what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. We have made no decision in terms of that yet.”

The plan is to work with student leadership and college council to give students options on how to wear the card.

“I wear mine around my neck,” said Stephanie Kam, 27, a member of the HMC board of directors and student in the International Business post-grad program. “I don’t find it inconveniences me or anything. It’s basically like wearing a necklace.”

Discussions will begin sometime mid to late spring and a decision will be made by this time next year, Parfeniuk says.

“That will give students leeway time in terms of the different options they’re going to be given.”

Dollars and sense
Each card costs the college $11.25. The old student ID costs 50 cents, but the oneCARD replaces proximity cards and comes with many more features.

The students won’t pay a dime for the new card. The cost was covered by last year’s $170,000 budget, says Parfeniuk. “Next year in the budget we have just over $200,000.”

This includes all operating and initialization costs as well as equipment purchases to make the oneCARD.

“Yes, it is more expensive than that little white card that just hung out in your wallet,” said Parfeniuk. But student’s won’t have to shell out more cash from student fees to be the proud owner of this high-tech card.

“It is funded by the board’s general budget, our grants from the province and tuition revenue,” said Parfeniuk.

These might sound like large figures, but it isn’t unusual to see costs soar upwards of $250,000 says Till. So how were costs kept reasonable? It was an inside job.

“This is all done internally with our own software technology,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful. Even though we’re late into the game, it was all done internally, which is amazing. ‘Cause there are companies outside that charge a great deal of money to consult and build a card system.”

How to get a oneCARD
New students starting in the winter term, and those returning in the fall 2012-1213 term, can schedule a pick-up appointment through the Access Sheridan website.

And you don’t have to worry about standing in line to “say cheese” a la elementary school picture day either. You can just upload them directly to Sheridan.

“It will have to be verified, authenticated,” said Till. “More or less similar to a passport picture. They will not be able to wear a ball-cap. They wont be able to wear sunglasses.”

Students in their final semester can continue using their student ID cards and separate proximity cards. The cost to replace a lost or damaged oneCARD is $25.

Hazel McCallion Campus students can make their replacement payments and pick up their cards at the Instruction Technology Support Centre (ITSC).

Davis and Trafalgar Campus students will need to make their payment at the Office of the Registrar then head over to their respective ITSC to get the card replaced.

“It will basically replace all other cards at the campus. It will be one card to do everything,” said Till.

For more information, and to stay up to date as features are added, visit


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