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A contactless PennCard system has been installed in buildings across campus, allowing faster entry for faculty, students, and staff.

Credit: Ananya Chandra

A new contactless PennCard swipe system has been installed by the Division of Public Safety in major buildings on campus, and the futuristic tap-security setup is streamlining entrances and advancing safety at Penn.

The contactless swipe works by allowing faculty, staff and students on campus to swipe into buildings by simply tapping their PennCards against the dual readers instead of having to swipe. The advantage of the tap in buildings like Van Pelt Library means that entrance lines have shortened dramatically. The contactless swipe also implements a more secure and infallible chip rather than a magnetic strip.

“Usability is an important aspect of security that sometimes gets overlooked,” DPS Director of Security Technology George Fox said. “The contactless swipe allows us to add more accessibility into these buildings.”

The system has been installed in 90 buildings to date with plans for 27 more. Notable buildings capable of the new technology include Van Pelt Library, School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Design and Gregory College House.

PennCards that are eligible for contactless swipe were first rolled out in July 2014, and were utilized for the Class of 2018 and Class of 2019 at the start of their freshman years. Business Services and PennCard Services have been working to re-card faculty and staff to give them the newest technology, then plan on bringing rollouts to students in the classes above the Class of 2018.

“The chip is more secure than the magnetic strip,” Director of Communications and External Relations for Business Services Barbara Lea-Kruger said. “As technology evolves and we move forward in the future, the chip is the newest technology.”

Lea-Kruger says that all students in classes above the Class of 2018 who do not have contactless swipe-capable PennCards and need contactless access for buildings on campus can visit the PennCard Center. Any questions about the new technology system and PennCard compatibility can be directed to the PennCard Center.

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