Multi-use SmartCards introduced at U of T
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Visions of the future may come to mind when considering a new SmartCard system introduced at the University of Toronto.
Designed as a technological pilot project, this card can hold all of life's necessities with access only a swipe away, said Alfred Cheng, director of finance and administration for the university's Central Library.
Visually, there is no difference from any other student library card including a school photograph, identification number and library bar code number, yet below the surface lurks a microchip ready to transport students into the technological future, Cheng said.
Cheng also explained the card gives students full access to all of the library's services including photocopying, printing and the Internet. The SmartCard can also be used in specific vending machines within the library and the University of Toronto cafeteria.
"This card will not only help us improve service to students but also allows us to expand services such as using network laser printing," Cheng said.
It is unknown whether this project will go past the pilot phase but Cheng said they hope to streamline the operation and the SmartCard will remain part of the Central Library regardless of how other departments within the university decide to use the service.
There are some concerns, as highlighted by Ted Salgado, president of the University of Toronto's students administration council. "There is always the worry that the possibility exists that information being collected may be sold to a marketing group," he said.
Salgado also said the university has not done a very good job at informing students about this new card and all its features.
"Most students believe they are just applying for a library card and I didn't even know about this project until we began getting calls," Salgado said
Online services and CD ROM librarian for D. B. Weldon library, Walter Zimmerman, said the SmartCard is actually not a new idea.
"We used to have a Western One Card that contained identification, library and food services," Zimmerman said, adding many Western faculty hold cards now which offer various applications.
According to Zimmerman, the pros of such a card may be the elimination of plastic, yet the cons could have more serious implications and he suggested a P.I.N. number may help with security.
"When you lose these type of cards, you are likely to lose a lot more, such as money, which is of more value," Zimmerman said.