The UA is set to issue new CatCards this summer with new tech capabilities and a different look, voted on by students.
The new CatCards, which will be given to incoming students during the New Student Orientation, will be able to do the same things current CatCards can. This includes having the ability to access buildings, contain money for meal plans as well as store student information. But, unlike the CatCards students have now, the new cards will not have an external smart chip; instead, they will host a new “advanced chip” implanted inside the card.
“The first thing people will notice other than the new look is that it will no longer have an outside chip,” said Mark Barton, director of CatCard Services. “The new contact chip is a more powerful platform and will have a lot more possibilities than a regular ID card.”
The new and upgraded chip will incorporate more UA functions into the CatCard, such as student voting and ZonaZoo E-ticketing. In addition, it will have a “Tap and Go” function, which would eliminate the need for users to swipe the card’s magnetic strip in order to complete purchases.
“It’s less damaging on the cards, so they will be able to last longer,” Barton said.
CatCard Services is waiting to implement this new technology into the new cards upon their release, Barton said, because they are waiting until more students have the new cards. This may take a few years, according to Barton.
“If it is going to take them a while to use the new chip, then it makes sense we are not going to see a big change,” said Donald Sudduth, a chemical engineering freshman.
Students with the current CatCards will not be obligated to replace them for the new ones. Those who wish to upgrade can do so at the CatCard Office for $25. Barton said because the new technology found in the cards will not be incorporated on campus soon, he thinks students should not feel inclined to replace them right away.
“If it was free to get the cards, I think I would try to replace my CatCard,” said Austen Fowler, a veterinary science freshman, “I think they should just give new cards to all of the students at once instead of trying to phase them out.”
With new technology also comes a new look for the cards, and students can now vote on three different designs. The designs are modeled after the Arizona flag, the desert mountains and Wilbur the Wildcat.
“We wanted to get input and see what people liked and didn’t like about the new cards,” Barton said.
Students who are interested in voting on the design can do so on the CatCard Office’s website. Voting will end on Wednesday.