Topics Map > University of Chicago > IT Services > Accounts, Identity, & Security > Identity Management
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 Identity and Privileges Office (IPO) in the Regenstein Library.
The front of the UChicago Card contains the university emblem, a large picture and name space, and a space for an ID photo. Note that the card is vertical to make it easy to read when hanging from a lanyard. Numbers and other information are on the back of the card.
The UChicago Card includes an identifying number unique to each cardholder and technology to allow you convenient access to univeristy facilities.
The UChicago Card contains a radio frequency identifier (RFID). The primary use of RFID is to control access to university buildings. RFID does not require you to swipe the card through a reader. Instead, you hold the card within a few inches of an RFID reader. This technology is similar to the Chicago Transit Authority's Ventra cards, which you hold up to a reader to enter a train platform or a bus.
The UChicago Card includes the ChicagoID, a university identifier. See the article ChicagoID General Overview) printed on the back. ChicagoIDs are used instead of social security numbers 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 that is detected by the reader. This is the reason that the card has to be very close to the reader in order to be read. RFID is an improvement over magnetic strip technology; less physical contact between the card and the reader reduces wear and tear on the card and is more convenient for you to use.
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. Only the number assigned to the card itself is stored on the RFID chip. The card number is not your ISO number, student ID, or ChicagoID. It is simply a single-purpose, computer-generated number associated with that particular card. Because such information is meaningless outside of the university, rogue readers are highly unlikely. Also, because you must bring their cards within inches of a reader in order for them to be read, you would almost certainly be aware of attempts to read your card.
You 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 at 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).