A large renowned Philadelphia university, with a community of over 80,000 people, had a need to offer their students, faculty and staff more security and flexibility with their identification access cards. They had been using outdated magstripe technology at over 800 card reader locations. The magstripe technology was initially added to plastic cards in the early 1970’s. The longevity of this technology has made it insecure and easy to duplicate. It is also less convenient to swipe your card at a reader than to present it within a ‘proximity’ field. The university decided it was finally time to upgrade their card technology to enhance security.


The biggest challenge was how to upgrade access cards and install new card readers to such a large population without interrupting day-to-day operations while ensuring a secure campus environment. Due to the expense of upgrading 80,000 users it was important to find a way to make sure that the old magstripe access cards were compatible with the new access readers at over 800 locations. Plans were put in place to have a staged, yet seamless transition for the university staff and student body.


Working closely with the Director of Security Technology, Unlimited Technology identified an effective and efficient solution to the time-consuming and possible security threats of re-carding the entire university campus.

Unlimited Technology led efforts to replace the old magstripe card readers with HID Multiclass card readers that also include magstripes. The new multi-technology readers allow for both old and new cards to work within the existing system. This supported a controlled rollout process of DESFire EV1 smart credentials. Utilizing DESFire EV1 smart credentials provides multiple benefits not previously realized by the university. The result is a much higher level of protection against threats to personal information as it relates to both access control and biometric information. Students, faculty and staff can use the new access cards for entry into campus buildings, cashless vending, recreation, library, and public transportation services.


The university has become more secure by implementing mutual authentification between cards and readers. The new technology allows for greater flexibility of services that can be offered to their users. This solution can grow with the ever changing technology advances of a university environment where speed and ease of use are essential.

Unlimited Technology listened and successfully met our client’s need. We were able to systematically replace readers one building at a time with little to no disruption to the overall population of card users. Unlimited Technology was chosen as the integrator of choice based on our market experience, product knowledge and industry reputation.