This past weekend I visited a friend at Kenyatta University and was wowed by their new smart card id implementation. They use their IDs to pay for fees, for meals in the mess and even to save money.
This kept me thinking, JKUAT the epitome of technology in Kenya, can’t we implement such a system?
Imagine a campus life where with the swipe of a card, you can eat dinner, photocopy notes, attend premium functions, and open locked doors, just to mention but a few. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?
Well, it’s rapidly becoming a norm in developed countries’ institutions. Students don’t have to walk with money everywhere so as to buy stuff or access services, neither do they need to carry bunches of keys to access buildings. A smart card is all they need.
What’s a Smart Card?
So, what do I mean by a smart card? Simply, this is a card which is smart. Ha-ha! Gotcha. That was so rude of me I guess. A smart-card is a pocket-sized card with an embedded microchip that can be loaded with data and programmed to perform certain functions.
For instance, a bank credit card is a good example of a smart card. When an institution identification card is embedded with a microchip, then that card has made a tremendous leap in technological terms. So how can this card make life much easier?
Allow me to explain from the perspective of a JKUAT student. Besides containing major profile information of a student, the smart ID can be integrated with other functions.
First, it can be made into a credit card where students can load money to pay for food in the mess, for photocopying services, for charges to attend premium functions such as concerts and also for fees among other monetary uses. Through an app, students can track how they use their money and hence be in control of their financial life.
The smart card can also be used to borrow resources. For instance, the ability to borrow books in the library which is already enabled through the use of barcodes in the current IDs can be expanded to do much more.
The school can lease or provide students with sports clothing and equipment such as skating boots, bicycles, balls etc. With every item borrowed is connected to the system through the smart card, students will take good care of the items and maximize use to benefit substantially.
Also, if all doors and especially hostel doors were installed with a swipe-to-access system, a lot of these instances of unauthorized access and theft will be eradicated.
Students will have better security in their hostels and mischievous people will be easily smoked out. Any attempt to break into private rooms will be discouraged by the presence of alarms and cameras and this will be a major step in the advancement of JKUAT.
Also, halls or room designated for a certain group of people such as staff or college members can enable proximity access systems that identifys people from a distance, checks in the system if they have permissions to access the building then grants or denies access appropriately. Unauthorized members can then liaise with the guards to be considered.
Why it’s still a fantasy
So when I said imaginary I considered the fact that such a transformation would be very expensive to implement. Imagine stripping down all locks in the hostel to install smart swiping locks.
How can you walk into the institution through a makeshift gate B, step through building debris on your way hall six then swipe to access your room? I think it would much advisable if we dealt with small issues like poor pathways before we even dream of smart IDs.
Nevertheless, we are still allowed to dream, and so what do you think about smart IDs? Do you think it will be much more efficient if JKUAT implemented them? Please do comment and tell us what you think.
Let’s share and maybe, just maybe, we might influence a revolution of change in JKUAT.