student using swipe machine
Attendance data collected with Swipe helps optimize campus programming

Tracking event attendance and audience demographics is key to many University of Iowa units. They use the data to shape programming and monitor how and when their services are utilized. 

An application called Swipe is helping university departments, colleges, and organizations gather that valuable data. Event attendees simply step up to one of the 65 kiosks on campus and swipe their IowaOne ID Card. Units then have the ability to marry the attendance data with demographic data that’s already on file in UI records to understand more about who’s attending their events. 

Currently, more than 40 units are using Swipe across campus to gather data. Information Technology Services, for example, tracks walk-up traffic at the Help Desk, including questions asked and the types of issues visitors are experiencing, allowing ITS to plan ahead for staffing needs. The Academic Advising Center, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Public Safety, Pomerantz Career Center, Recreational Services, and Tippie College of Business are also using Swipe.  

“Swipe provides us with useful data in aggregate form, and we’re able to monitor attendance trends,” says Brandon Mills, IT director for the Office of Student Life. “The information has helped us understand our audiences, and we’ve been able to customize events to better cater to students.”

Swipe was first developed by Administrative Information Systems in 2004 for the Academic Advising Center to track student attendance at advising meetings. Use has grown steadily as more units seek to gather event data. This year, nearly 200,000 visits were recorded across the 40 campus sites. 

Residence Education tracks attendance at events in the residence halls, and Student Health and Wellness tracks outreach events and other programming. The Women’s Resource and Action Center tracks attendance at its violence-prevention workshops, in support of the UI Anti-Violence Plan, and the UI gathers data on late-night programming events, in support of the UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan. 

The University Billing Office and the new UI Service Center recently combined locations and began using Swipe to evaluate traffic, ensure adequate staffing levels, and conduct satisfaction surveys. 

“In addition to the headcount, we’ve been able to identify the reasons for the customer’s visit,” says Tamara Smith, director of Billing Account Services and ID Card Programs “This helped us identify the type of back-up assistance we needed to have available during the busiest times of year. We were able to ensure that the staff selected had the training to help with the right types of visits.” 

Migration is underway to a new-and-improved version of Swipe. Swipe2 refreshes the technology’s platform, improves the interface, streamlines sign-in, and allows for definition tags so visitors can share a reason for attendance. For example, when a student swipes into the Academic Resource Center for supplemental instruction, they can select which course they are seeking help in and a reason such as exam preparation or homework—a feature that provides even more valuable data to departments.  

Year in Review 2018
This story is part of a Year in Review highlighting some of OneIT's accomplishments from 2018.Go to Year in Review