SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State University is touting its new effort to make the campus safer.  Its new Bear Pass will be a student ID, debit card and a door access card.  The new system will make personal information and the campus physically more secure.

Students returning to campus this month for the winter-spring semester will get the new Bear Pass cards to replace their old Zip Cards.

“Thirteen years ago, we put in our existing system.  In terms of technology, that's about three generations back,” said Kent Thomas, assistant to the MSU president. 

Administrators think the new system will protect students better.

“We can bury any personal identifiable information deep inside our system behind lots of fire walls to ensure we don't have a problem with people's personal identity being compromised,” said Thomas.

The Bear Pass hides information in a computer chip instead of a magnetic strip that can be read too easily by the wrong people with the right tools.

“We're asking everyone, if they don't turn them into us, to destroy it to ensure there isn't a chance it can be compromised in some way,” said Thomas.

The new cards, in addition to being for identification and expenses, will be keys for some.

“Basically, the card just has to get close to it to touch it, and then the door can open for up to ten seconds.”

Card readers are being installed on 55 doors across campus now, starting with the most critical areas.  MSU has 90 buildings and about 400 external doors.

“We saw what happened at Virginia Tech, where someone got into a building and they could not lock the building down to preclude them from doing additional damage to property and to people,” said Thomas.

Officials would like to be able to lock down buildings in the event of an emergency now, but it will have to remain a goal.

“There's no money available to do that, so we have to find little pieces of time and money to try and make those things work a little bit better for us,” said Thomas.

The 30,000 students, faculty and staff will get their new Bear Pass cards this month.  MSU is spending $700,000 on this first phase of the new system, and continues to look for funding to complete the rest of the system over the coming years.  Administrators don’t know when it might be complete.

Learn more about the Bear Pass at the MSU website.