ID Center meets the challenge of providing 6,000 ID cards in-person on a shorter timeline

Traditionally, the ID Center would create and distribute between 7,000 and 8,000 university ID cards for freshman orientation, in-person, over seven weeks.

This year, with New Student Services’ shift to virtual orientation sessions due to the pandemic, the ID Center had to rethink their strategy for delivering ID cards to the approximately 6,000 incoming students expected to arrive on campus within days of classes starting on Aug. 26.

Thomas Gutierrez, ID Center lead, emphasized the ID Center’s commitment to a positive experience for students.

“Visiting the ID Center can be a student's first experience at UT, so we try to make it as special as we can,” Gutierrez said.

With that commitment to a customer-focused experience in mind, planning began.

For the first time, the ID Center partnered with University Housing and Dining (UHD) to distribute ID cards during Mooov-in, when students move into their dormitory room. Describing the partnership, Michelle McKenzie, operations manager in ITS Support Service, who is serving as the project manager to implement new ID Center capabilities, explained that UHD expected approximately 2,500 students to move into residence halls for the fall semester. Realizing that being able to deliver ID cards to those students during Mooov-in would reduce the pressure on the main ID Center location at the Flawn Academic Center (FAC), McKenzie and ID Center staff worked closely with UHD to pilot a new online photo submission tool.

UHD communications directed the students moving into the residence halls to submit their photo for their ID card online starting Aug. 1. Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 14, the cards were printed, grouped by dorms, alphabetized, and boxed for distribution. Both ID Center and UHD staff distributed the ID cards during centralized check-in at Disch-Falk Field between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23.

“The UHD check-in process was extremely well organized, so we were never overwhelmed,” McKenzie said. “We look forward to partnering with them again in the future.”

Back at the FAC, visitors to the ID Center began to increase Aug. 20. To help maintain social distancing as the rest of the population who needed ID cards visited the FAC, the ID Center collaborated with Texas One Stop to use Texas One Stop’s digital queuing application.

“Visitors would be greeted by ID Center staff as they entered the FAC, then stanchions, floor markings, and signs would guide them through a series of stations to get their EID upgrade, take their photo for their ID card,” McKenzie said. “At the end, they would sign into the digital queuing application so they could be notified when their ID card was ready and they wouldn’t have to wait in the FAC.”

McKenzie explained that the queuing application would send a text directing individuals to head back to the FAC when their ID card was ready for pickup.

“The digital queuing management application gave each person their approximate wait time and periodic status updates so they could wait anywhere, go to lunch, or just walk around our beautiful campus until called back,” McKenzie said.

According to McKenzie, Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 were the busiest days in the FAC. The ID Center helped several thousand individuals with EID upgrades, ID cards, and general questions about the university. She said that the digital queuing application loaned by Texas One Stop kept the process running efficiently and maintained social distancing and that it will remain in the ID Center toolkit going forward.

“Collaborations with UHD and Texas One Stop, along with the volunteers who gave their time to supplement the hardworking, dedicated ID center student workers--many of whom were hired and trained just a few weeks before the rush--made it possible to provide ID cards to everyone successfully under circumstances the ID Center had never encountered previously,” McKenzie said.

Hugo Siaudzionis, a student employee with the ID Center, agreed that the effort was successful.

"I think we did everything pretty well,” said Siaudzionis. “We took all the precautions and then somehow managed to make everything run just as smooth, if not smoother, than when I was getting my card years ago.”