Smartcard Logon in libraries to save UK Council £40,000 per year
A Smartcard Focus customer case study
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council manages 186 public access computers across 14 different library locations in the borough. These are used by 1,000 regular visitors of all ages, and thus provide a valuable service to residents as well as helping the council to meet its online service obligations.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister requires councils to provide “an integrated ICT infrastructure … to ensure the consistent delivery of services across all access channels, based on e-enabled back offices and smartcard interfaces for council library and sports and leisure services.”
The Museum, Libraries and Archives Commission has recently published it’s “Buy In to Better Libraries” proposal. This calls for £20 million in savings to be made through co-ordinated book purchasing and an improvement in service to customers.
Signing users on and off the system was a long-winded process requiring the library staff to accompany each user to a PC, and to log them in and out using standard usernames and passwords. This created a number of issues:-
- Wasted staff time walking to/from PCs
- Having to remember to log users off (not logging off meant users’ private information might be visible to others)
- Younger users were able to watch people being logged in, remember the passwords, and then use the machines unsupervised
This labour-intensive process took 3½ minutes per instance. In an average month of over 7,500 logins this amounted to over 440 hours spent supervising logons!
The Council therefore wanted to replace the manual process of “loaning out a PC” to the user’s bar-coded library card with a more automated system.
After looking at various options, the library IT team chose Dekart Smartcard Logon from Smartcard Focus because of its ease of use, price point and flexibility. Smartcard Focus supplied sufficient software licenses, ACOS2 smartcards and CardMan CM3121 smartcard readers to suit the council’s needs, including spares.
A barcode is allocated to each PC in the library, a copy of which is attached to individual wallets in a folder where the logon smartcard is stored. The barcode for the PC is scanned into the library system by means of the standard IR barcode scanner. The customer’s membership card is exchanged for the logon smartcard and the library system record acts as if a book is being loaned, instead of a PC.
For security purposes the library can still track who was using a PC at any time, as the library system date & time stamps each transaction. And if the logon card isn’t returned, it’s easy to identify the customer, contact them and retrieve the card or impose a replacement fine. Blank cards are used so that the individual library and its PCs can’t be identified if the card goes missing.
It’s possible to configure the Smartcard Logon software for smartcard access only or to allow password override using the keyboard. This is needed if cards go missing because the program and card issuance is managed centrally. Libraries don’t always want to wait for replacement logon smartcards to arrive in the post, so this option allows their PCs to remain accessible in the meantime.
The Smartcard Logon software also optionally forces log-off when the card is removed. This automatically ensures a users’ activity can’t be seen by the next person sitting in their seat.
Keith Miller, project manager at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council says of the system “We were delighted to be able to source this solution from Smartcard Focus, and anticipate that the new smartcard logon scheme will save over £40K worth of resource time per year, whilst making the process smoother and more convenient for our customers.”
Smartcard Focus provides a special, fully packaged version of Dekart’s popular PC logon software. Called Smartcard Logon, this solution includes carefully chosen cards and reader options to suit various applications, and comes complete with management software and the option to link up with other systems such as door access control.
Smartcard Logon is suitable across a range of applications, including home users wishing to control access to their PCs and small- and medium-sized enterprises wishing to implement stronger passwords and two-factor authentication. The software is easy to install, fast, and highly convenient. It works purely at the individual PC level, thus not requiring any complex server software or administration tasks.
Please see the logon section of our online store
for more details of the product options available.