Contactless student IDs

The University of Tennessee is partnering with Apple so students can add their VolCard access on their phones this fall 2019 semester. 

Chandler Lampe and Nick Corbin are the Director and Co-Director of SGA's Technology Affairs student services committee. Last Fall, they approached OIT about potentially having VolCard access on their phones. This fall, their idea will become a reality.

Alongside thousands of other college students, students at UT will be able to add their student IDs into their digital wallets. Through their digital wallets, students will be able to use their iPhones or Apple Watches to access all of the features of a Vol Card at the touch of a button.

Hailey Shastid, a senior majoring in Human Resource Management, is excited about the new development but still has some reservations about the technology.

"I do hope that they'll have a conventional option for students without phones. I fear that UT won't be prepared to deal with the technical difficulties," Shastid said.

Corbin, the Co-Director of Technology Affairs, communicated with OIT during the process of making sure that UT was equipped to handle this new technology. Details of the plan were available in February but UT's technological infrastructure was behind schedule.

"Significant upgrades needed to be made to systems at UT to support this. OIT and the VolCard office had to replace hundreds of scanners around campus to allow this to happen," Corbin said.

Corbin and Lampe were involved in the development process as this project is an SGA initiative. The Technology Affairs committee is one of several SGA committees in the student services branch. Their role is to provide input and support on technological developments and then help educate people on these advancements. SGA's Technology Affairs is also known for its involvement in the development of two-factor authentication.

"Our group focuses on working with OIT and other areas of campus to advocate for students' needs in regards to technology and then get those implemented," Corbin said of the Technology Affairs committee.

This new technology will enable students to use meal swipes, make purchases and access buildings from their devices. These features will be the same across all college campuses but with specified access. In the future, "swipe in" events may become replaced by scanning digital student IDs. This access will be protected by two-factor authentication to further secure the process.

Apple has publicly stated that they intend to replace any kind of card from a physical wallet with a digital, contactless version. Apple has already made contactless versions of debit cards, credit cards, rewards cards, ticket stubs, coupons, boarding passes and more. Student IDs are the newest addition to the Apple Wallet.

OIT is still working through the process of making this feature available to everyone. They are starting a pilot test with a small group of people on campus. Later this Fall, they will move to make it available for everyone. While this is currently only available to iPhone users through the Apple Wallet, Android support is estimated to be available next spring.

For more information about Contactless ID, you can reach out to SGA's Technical Affairs Committee, OIT or the VolCard Office.

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