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UChicago Card - FAQs
This article answers frequently asked questions about the UChicago card.
The UChicago Card is the identification card for active students, staff and faculty. Eligible persons may obtain their card at the IPO (Identity and Privileges Office) in the Regenstein Library.
The front of the UChicago Card contains the University emblem, a large picture and name space, and space for an identifying picture. Note that the card is vertical to make it simple to read when hanging from a lanyard. Numbers and other information reside on the back of the card.
The UChicago Card contains an RFID (radio frequency identifier). The primary use of this capability is to provide access controls to University buildings. The technology does not require the cardholder to swipe the card through a reader. Instead, the cardholder holds the card within some proximity of a reader, at a distance ordinarily measured in inches. This technology is similar to that in the Chicago Transit Authority's Ventra cards, where the card is held up to a reader.
The UChicago Card includes the ChicagoID, a University identifier (see the ChicagoID General Overview) printed on the back. ChicagoIDs are used instead of a social security number wherever possible. In addition, the card ISO number, library barcode, and student ID are printed on the back of the card.
RFID technology has been in use for some time. Our RFID card contains an antenna, which is energized when placed in a particular kind of magnetic field. Once activated, it then emits a weak, coded radio signal, which is detected by the reader. This is the reason that the card has to be in contact with, or very close to, the reader in order be read. RFID is an improvement over magnetic stripe technology because less physical contact between card and reader reduces wear and tear on the card and is more convenient for those using such a card.
I've heard about security problems with RFID. Some people talk about “rogue readers” and cite privacy dangers that could arise from tracking RFID cards. Does the card contain sensitive data and can that data be stolen?
The RFID feature of the UChicago Card does not store identifying information useful to persons outside the University. We only store the number assigned to the card itself on the RFID chip. In other words, the card number is not the ISO number, student ID, or ChicagoID. It is simply a single-purpose computer-generated number that is associated with that particular card. Because such information is meaningless outside of the University, rogue readers are highly unlikely. Also, because cardholders must bring their cards within inches of a reader in order for them to be read, users will almost certainly be aware of attempts to read their cards.
The user must place the card near a reader for it to be read. This eliminates the ability of anyone to watch someone moving about by means of the card.
If the card is used to let people into buildings, who will keep logs of who comes in, how long will the logs be kept, and with whom will they be shared?
In keeping with the generally decentralized nature of the University, different access points operate under different policies.
If you are an incoming undergraduate, you are required to upload your picture online through MyUChicago. You will pick up your UChicago Cards at Orientation, provided that you show a government-issued photo ID (e.g., a driver's license, passport, state ID card).