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Andover Considers Adopting One-Card System to Simplify Student Life; Aims to Combine Keys, Cash, and Identification

In the near future, Andover students may need only one card on campus to purchase food at the Ryley Room, buy drinks from a vending machine, enter their dorms, or perform a number of other functions at PA. The school is currently exploring the possibility of bringing a “one-card” system to Andover. In an effort to streamline students’ lives, students would be issued a photo ID that would serve as cash, keys, and identification on campus. The card system is currently the security method of choice at Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth Universities. Each school has adapted the functions of the card to best suit its needs. For example, the card can function as either a debit card or a rechargeable declining balance. The particular powers of a possible Andover card have yet to be determined. Adam Thermos, the founder of Strategic Technology Group, the school’s consultant on the matter, said, “The system has infinite possibility.” College students have praised the convenience of the “one-card” system. Doors automatically open when the card is within one to two feet of the scanner. Although the advantages are numerous, many students fear that the “one-card” system will enable the school administration to follow a student’s every move. Mr. Thermos said, “The common fear is tracking; but honestly no one has the interest or the time. At Brown University we log and lose close to 200,000 events in a week. Who cares?” The hard drive, which records the events on the system, is written over about ever two weeks. Director of Technology Valerie Roman, said, “It’s comparable to the e-mail system, technically data is there, but we don’t actively monitor it unless a legal or safety issue arises.” The system also boasts increased security possibilities. With the card sensors, PAPS would be able to detect open doors anywhere on campus. If a student ever needed to be located in the case of an emergency, the school could examine the most recent transactions on that student’s card and use that information to aid their search. The card also hopes to solve the security nightmare of lost keys, for the card can be cancelled at any time. Andover’s discussions about the system are in preliminary stages, and the administration hopes to include students and faculty in the discussion about how best to adapt the system to fit the school’s needs. As Mr. Thermos said, “It’s nothing new. It’s just a more civilized and simplified system.”