One-Card Keys Delayed Until January 2009

The One-Card system, which promised to bring a new speed to campus and downtown transactions, has itself hit speed bumps. Students will now have to wait until January 2009. The launch of the one-card system, originally slated for this September, has been postponed until students return from winter vacation, according to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students. The one-cards, which the school has dubbed “BlueCards,” will have the capability for debit transactions at select locations on and off campus. However, the BlueCards will not initially include card-access to campus buildings. Murphy attributed the delay of the one-card system to “the scope of the project, which was larger and more intricate than originally imagined. We ran into some logistical problems in August when there were few people around, and we wanted to make sure it was done right and not just done quickly.” Malin Adams ’09, Student Council President, said, “I think the tech department was overburdened with this task. They didn’t know how much work it would actually be and they didn’t have time to take the necessary steps to make it work. They couldn’t just start it on the first day of school and have it work like they wanted it to.” By mid-August, the administration realized that the BlueCard system would not be fully operational for the start of the school year and decided to proceed with the standard ID cards, according to Murphy. “The last thing you want to do is issue cards that no one can use,” said Murphy. The school decided to test the BlueCards first with the less complicated feature of debit transactions before utilizing them for more complicated functions, such as building access. “As you can imagine, if a student loses a card and can’t use it at a restaurant for a time, it is much less important than if they lose the card and can’t access their dorm or academic buildings,” wrote Maureen Nunez, Director of Risk Management and Administrative Services, in an email to The Phillipian. The administration could add building access to the BlueCards in the few years following its launch, according to Murphy, after the school has tested the system and received feedback. He also noted that advancements in technology would affect the decision for card-reading systems on buildings. For example, the school is contemplating using a proximity card system instead of a swiping system, which would reduce the wear of a BlueCard. Murphy said, “We will eventually add [card-access], but that was another decision that had to be made. Looking at the whole thing, it might have taken three years, so we said, ‘Let’s do this piece of it and do it sooner.’” “You can put money on the card and you can use it on campus to buy food or buy books at the bookstore,” said Adams. “We’re hoping that this will maybe stop the long lines that occur the first few days, with new students especially.” Along with the Andover Bookstore, the school is currently looking to incorporate businesses listed in the Blue Pages, a document created by Student Council indexing most of Andover’s local vendors. But the process of acquiring the cooperation of outside vendors is complex, said Murphy. “Some of [the businesses] are easy. Some of them are national like CVS or big companies like Bertucci’s, and it will probably be easy to do. For smaller ones, there will probably be a cost involved, they have to decide whether they want to do it or not,” said Murphy. He continued, “There will be some vendors who will be up and ready, I assume, by January, and others who will not.” Murphy also noted the additional costs in staffing and time that the BlueCards will require. “Once you get into this, it’s a great service for students and for the campus as a whole, but it comes with a price. Not with a ticket price, but it comes with a complexity that we don’t do right now,” he said. “This is going to require more administration… It’s not just going to happen, it’s going to take some thought.” Despite the delay and the work needed to implement the one-card system, Murphy and Adams are both looking forward to seeing BlueCards arrive on campus. “To encapsulate what’s going on, we’re all excited that this is happening because this has been two to three years in discussion,” said Murphy. “I think it’s good that at least we’re at the point where we’re getting to the first stage. The idea has been around for years now, before we even got here,” said Adams. “It’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen over the summer, but hopefully when we return from the holidays, we’ll be ready for the first stage.”