University of Cantabria

UC_logowebUniversity of Cantabria (UC) is a young modern public institution whose main purpose is to contribute to social progress through a firm commitment to teaching and scientific excellence, which have made the UC outstanding among Spanish universities due to its quality and scientific productivity. Since its creation in 1972, has provided a university education for more than 36,000 students. Currently, the number of students exceeds 13,000 while teaching and general staff are over 1,400 people. University of Cantabria is organized in two campuses, one in the city of Santander while the other is in Torrelavega, an urban centre 20 kilometres from Santander. At these two locations, University of Cantabria offers studies going from Humanities and Social sciences, Business or Medicine to Engineering. Teaching includes theoretical and practical sessions supplemented by laboratory work, specific programs with companies, and services providing access to printed and electronic information. UC_Campus The commitment of the University of Cantabria with its community goes beyond educational activities. Campus life also offers the opportunity to enjoy an ample array of cultural and sport activities and to develop projects through student associations. A wide range of facilities, as for instance sports pavilion, library and informatics rooms, are at the disposal of students and university personnel. To study or work at the University of Cantabria is to experience new technologies. Classrooms and laboratories are fitted with advanced equipment to further the progress of knowledge. These infrastructures are supported by a computer network designed to include the latest technologies. Each person within the university have a smartcard and an e-mail account, which can be used to gain electronic access to the Campus Virtual, the integrated information system that enables communication between the university and students, lecturers or staff.

TUI, our campus smart card

Since the adoption of the smartcard technology in 1995, University of Cantabria has always been a pioneer in the smart card solutions under the scope of Santander Universities Program. This model introduced at the University of Cantabria has become the standard for more than 140 universities in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, USA and LatinAmerica, which are able to use this card on their campuses through collaboration agreements with the Santander. In 2000, this spirit of collaboration and innovation brought the same two institutions together into the creation of the Technological Observatory of the University of Cantabria Smart Card (OTTIUC, Observatorio Tecnológico de la Tarjeta Inteligente de la Universidad de Cantabria), whose purpose was to explore the possibilities of new multi-application cards. OTTIUC’s work over the past decade has made possible for Santander to take the proper direction in smartcards technology, placing Santander Universities’ Program smartcard technology at the head of innovation and enabling the provision of high-trend value services to their member universities.

Technological evolution

The need to properly keep identified the members of universities has always existed. Many solutions have been proven as valid for this objective, but not all of them enable the provision of additional services. The initial identification method at the University of Cantabria was a credit-card sized piece of paper, includingthe name, picture and signature of the person to be identified. The number of services that could be attached to this card was too small, and more flexible, robust and valuable solution was required. The University Smart Card (T.U.I., Tarjeta Universitaria Inteligente) was developed by the University of Cantabria in collaboration with Banco Santander, being pioneer in the deployment of smart card technology in a university environment. Destined to teachers, students, researchers and administrative personnel, since 1995 it has been offering a big number of important service within the university campus. In addition to accreditation, book loans, access control to installations and many other in-campus functionalities, USC also includes financial services (e-purse and credit/debit), allowing payments with discounts in shops. USC was originally based on a PCOS smartcard, but quickly evolved into a mono application WG10 Operating System card. Despite being an innovation in 1995, it started to show some limitations. University Community started to demand new functionalities. Therefore the evolution towards a multi application smart card became a necessity. In 2000, and under the auspice of OTTIUC, the new USC was released. The USC was endowed with the Java Card technology, enabling the implementation of multiple applications (known as applets) under a unique smartcard. This new USC included the M/Chip Lite applet, supporting the future debit/credit EMV bank standard. Presented in Santander in February 2002, it became the first multi application smartcard with EMV capacity and also performed the first EMV transaction in Europe. Thes election of Java Card as a technology with promising future prospects has turned into the right decision and nowadays is reporting significant benefits to Santander Universities’ Program. In fact, currently deployed smartcard technology is still based on Java Card.
Year 1995

Year 1995

Year 2007

Year 2007

In 2005, initial thoughts that the new trend in smartcard technology would be contactless solutions come out of the OTTIUC and its collaborators. At that moment, contactless smartcards were not widely known and investing in this technology was a risk. Nevertheless, the decision was taken and the next Santander Universities Program smartcard had to include a contactless interface. It was one of the very few smartcards to incorporate two communication interfaces, traditional contacts and new contactless one. This type of cards brought smartcard technology closer to the user, as using them was easier than never and very friendly. The next step forward was the adoption of dual interface smartcards. The main difference with the former is that previous smartcard had two chips, one for the contactless interface and another for contact one, both of them not sharing the same information; while the new one has only one chip accessible through both interfaces. This way the information would be the same independently of the access mode. Currently University of Cantabria in collaboration with Santander Universities Program is working on the next natural step, merging the smart card with the mobile environment, first by both mobiles and smart cards coexisting and in the near future by enabling the USC as another mobile application. This will enable the future campus card scenario where students are having ubiquitous access to their university, providing a better integration on their dayly live both in-campus and ouside campus boundaries.

Services integration

UC Smart card In order to promote the capabilities of the smartcard, University of Cantabria in collaboration with OTTIUC decided to implement several solutions using smartcards. The university identified the need to control the access to the shared computers in the informatics room as priority application. Online booking of computers and Windows login using student’s smartcard was a reality by the end of 2003. Besides that, University of Cantabria was also the test scenario used to demonstrate in 2004 the smart cards’ possibilities in mobility. Sports facilities booking and payment and marks consultation were the two applications chosen. Students with their mobile devices were able to perform this task anytime anyware. Again, University of Cantabria and Santander bank were the pioneers in introducing mobile applications in a university. Today with the eclosion of social networks and universal internet access those solutions has been proven as visionary. Trying to give more uses to the smartcard, in 2006 University of Cantabria carried out the first pilot test on digital signature in Spanish universities. A smartcard is one of the more secure tokens and its cryptographic capabilities make the ideal support for digital signature out of it. The pilot provided teachers with the means to sign students’ marks with their smartcards. In the meanwhile, other projects were also deployed at University of Cantabria. With the aim of extending the use of e-purse payments in the campus, the collaboration between Santander and the university crystallize in the development of printing and photocopying management and payment system. This solution will response to the increasingly demand of controlling the cost of the consumables spent in this services. The implantation of such a service, on the contrary to the expected, was well accepted by the students, and nowadays the University of Cantabria has almost completely removed the use of cash on its campus. The technological changes in the USC towards contactless have been coordinated with the update of campus facilities. Campus applications, such as access control, have been progressively adapted to contactless smartcards. More over, coinciding with the adoption of contactless smart card technology, University of Cantabria signed a collaboration agreement with Transporte Urbano de Santander (TUS) in 2009 which integrate public transportation in the city of Santander in the USC, that is, students and staff will be able to the use of the USC for paying at buses on their dayly comnutes to the university. The currently available smart card technology presents a tremendous potential and the university is analyzing new applications that can make full use of the USC. Additionally, and following the direction that students’ habits are taking, University of Cantabria is also exploring the possibilities of linking the USC with students’ mobile phones, as to provide seamless and universal access to university facilities from this portable device.