The Students Union is an independent charity run for students by students. It offers opportunities for students to engage in social activities and provides advice and support for all matters affecting students.
The Students’ Union utilise a multi-faceted web portal for students at the University of Wolverhampton. The web portal allows students to join sports teams, sign up for societies and social activities and to engage with their Students’ Union. To access the system, students must provide their student number to allow staff to locate them on the system. At peak times, this is time consuming and laborious. The challenge was to automate this process by utilising the existing Radio Frequency Identification Chip (RFID) chip located in each student card.
The NTAILS project established that in order for the process to be automated, preliminary research was required to examine the current data being held on each student card i.e. what information was being held about each student. This was then examined to establish whether a student’s identity could be easily established and integrated with the existing systems for example, a student card has the student number, student name, gender and date of birth. Checks were required to ensure that data was not encrypted so was accessible by the system.
Once these investigations had taken place, the project team was able to recommend a cost effective RFID reader, which could be both portable and fixed. The project team also assisted with software development which has allowed the Students Union to implement the new process effectively.
The Students Union have used the new process for the recent Student Elections. Staff have also been able to use the portable RFID readers to assist with surveys and questionnaires.
Luke Gilbert, Chief Executive of the Students Union said ‘We used this system to allow the recent Student Elections to go fully electronic for the first time. Electronic terminals for the polling stations resulted in more students voting because the system is quick and easy to use. The speed with which can now access student details has vastly improved’
About the Consultant:
Piero Filippin is a senior consultant at IT Futures. He has more than 15 years ICT involvement with industry, 4 of which have been spent providing RFID Consultancy, training and solutions. He is currently managing the West Midlands Regional Centre for Radio Frequency Identification at the University of Wolverhampton and is the Senior Technical Consultant on the NTAILS Project.
IT Futures is based at the University of Wolverhampton and brings together the expertise of the University’s School of Technology to businesses across the West Midlands Region.