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This Fall, Prox Card For Frosh

By Michael E. Rolish

Next year’s MIT Cards will no longer need swiping at some locations, as the Card Office rolls out proximity cards and readers to bring increased security and convenience to card users.

Starting this fall, new and replacement cards will be embedded with chips that will be able to be read by readers a few inches away, allowing students and staff to “hip-check” readers to open some doors.

The new cards will also now display the new MIT logo.

“We can’t re-card the whole campus at once, and we can’t change every mag reader at the same time,” said John M. McDonald, the assistant director for enterprise services.

Proximity readers will be incrementally installed around campus. Some buildings, such as Simmons Hall, were built with the technology in place. The new readers will also be installed in new and renovated buildings, and then existing readers will be upgraded, McDonald said.

The new system may be more secure than using a magnetic stripe. The existing magnetic cards can be copied quickly with equipment costing under $200, but the new system provides “end-to-end encryption,” McDonald said. The magnetic stripe will still be used at points of sale, such as on-campus dining facilities.

The cost difference between the old and new readers is insignificant, but while the old MIT Cards cost only fifty cents, the new ones will cost about four dollars, McDonald said.

The $15 fee for a replacement card will not change, he said. The Card Office will try to recover costs by selling accessories, such as leashes and cords to attach to the card.

The hardware vendor for the new system is Indala of San Jose, Calif.