Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Ill., is piloting a program that can track students on school buses. The goal is to increase safety while determining more efficient bus routes. The school rolled out the program in late January that provides each student with a card that the student uses as he enters or exits a school bus.
The district already issues student IDs with magnetic strips that comply with the system implemented by First Student, the district’s transportation provider. It is using its pre-installed GPS system and adding the readers at no cost to the school, said a school spokesperson.
The program will also help the district determine places where bus routes are not heavily used by students. When all the students are swiped in, a driver can see their stops and may not have to run through every stop on the route, which could potentially save the district money, said Mark Michelini, assistant superintendent for business .
The pilot program will be rolled out slowly over the spring semester, he added, with plans to eventually expand the program to five to seven buses this spring.
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Biometric technology expedites lunch lines
The Pinellas County School Board District in Clearwater, Fla. has paired up with technology provider Fujitsu Frontech North America to provide a reliable and secure method of handling school food service program transactions.
With more than 102,000 students, the district is the seventh largest in the state and the 24th largest in the nation. Efficiently serving this large population has, at times, proven challenging for the district, particularly in the school cafeteria snack and lunch lines.
Officials have tried everything from swipe cards to PINs, none of which seemed to help. The district even tested a fingerprint scanning system but it proved unreliable. “Students would place their finger on the scanner and leave behind oil, dirt, and residues. This would cause the system to malfunction or freeze up delaying the cafeteria lunch lines,” said Art Dunham, director of Food Service Department at Pinellas County Schools.
Then the district learned about vascular biometrics. Unlike other biometrics, vascular devices don’t require contact with the student’s skin so they are hygienic, non-intrusive and unrestricted by external factors such as skin types and conditions. They identified Fujitsu Frontech and its PalmSecure biometric sensor.
PalmSecure uses near-infrared light to capture and store a student’s palm vein pattern, generating a unique biometric template that is matched against pre-registered user palm vein patterns. This makes forgery virtually impossible.
As part of the project Fujitsu partnered with MCS Software, an integrator for school food service environments. Pairing PalmSecure with MCS’s Newton point-of-sale system resulted in a fully integrated solution for managing snacks and meal plans.
The system increases security without a need for student PINs or fingerprint scanners. This minimizes transaction times, which keeps cafeteria lunch lines moving at a steady pace. “The process is relatively simple,” explains Dunham, “and registration takes no longer than 20 seconds.”
To register, a staff member first searches for the student’s name in the district’s centralized database. MCS’s point-of-sale software then displays the photo, in addition to class information, so that the student can be positively identified.
The student places a hand on the scanner for initial palm enrollment. A series of scans are performed to generate a unique and accurate biometric template. The template is a numeric representation of selected points from the vascular pattern. It makes it possible to compare future scans for authentication without storing an actual image of the palm vein pattern. After enrollment, the template is encrypted and stored on the district’s database.
Once they have enrolled, students simply walk up to the cafeteria register with their food and place their hand on the scanner. In a matter of seconds the system pulls up their information and deducts the necessary charges required to complete the transaction. The use of biometric scanning also remedies conventional problems associated with students forgetting or sharing PINs and swipe cards.
Parents can go online to add funds in their child’s meal account, set charge limits, see what their child purchased for lunch, monitor diets and view nutritional facts. “If a student is eating pizza every day the system will let them know about it,” Dunham says.
Additional features include medical and allergy alert messages for individual students. In the event a child unknowingly purchases a meal that may have adverse effects, or worse, causing a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, the system can provide an alert.
With previous systems there had been long waits that affected students. “It’s hard for students to focus and learn if they go the whole day hungry. In the past, due to long lunch lines, we found that students would just simply skip lunch,” Dunham says. “This remedies that problem and ensures students have the adequate time to eat their lunch, so that they can make it through the rest of their day comfortably.”
Enrollment in and use of the biometric system is completely voluntary. Parents and students who opt out have the choice of using the traditional PIN number, with elementary students alternatively using a series of unique images to securely complete food service transactions. “We do have parents who prefer that their children not participate in the program and that’s fine. We offer a different option so that everyone–both students and parents–remain happy,” Dunham explains.
Currently only the high schools and middle schools are participating in the system. Still, explains Dunham, some 46,000 students have been enrolled. The system will be expanded to the elementary schools later in the school year.
The district has ordered 300 palm scanners totaling around $120,000. Pinellas County also has plans to expand the PalmSecure system to support other school services and events including bus rides, field trips, attendance, yearbook sales and event ticketing.
The CBORD Group rolled out version 6 of its Odyssey PCS card system that features online and mobile control of activities and sales. It also includes AdminWeb, making it easy to access current information on-the-go.
Version 6 supports real-time email notifications generated by Odyssey. For example, an alert can be configured to notify an administrator when a specific patron’s card is used, or a patron can be alerted if an account balance falls below a threshold level.
AdminWeb, a Web-based version of the user interface, enables users to view and edit patron data from any Web-enabled computer or mobile device and proactively monitor terminal statuses and errors.
Real-time privilege information is also at the user’s fingertips with the Odyssey PCS Web Activities module. It enables administrators to look up patrons and instantly verify eligibility, freeing staff from using possibly outdated static lists.
The Web Sales module provides payment options for events. Administrators can search for patrons or swipe their cards and process payments through Odyssey eliminating the need to handle cash.
Contactless technology is rapidly growing in adoption for all types of payment and ticketing systems. According to Eurosmart, 630 million secure contactless cards were shipped in 2008 alone and we have seen the number of trials for near field communication (NFC) products grown exponentially since the late 2000s.
When it comes to NFC-capable devices, ABI Research estimates that nearly 35 million NFC enabled handsets shipped in 2011, and nearly double that number will find their way to market in 2012.
Credit card companies are starting to issue contactless products and major cities are rolling out contactless mass transit cards. Governments safely use contactless technology to secure passports and other ID documents for citizens, while corporations provide employees with contactless cards to secure access to facilities, networks and more.
While magnetic stripes for electronic identification are typically considered cheaper to deploy and offer broad compatibility, NFC-compatible products are becoming the expectation. While not on the verge of extinction, magstripe-only cards are quickly becoming an outdated solution with the emergence of secure, standards-based contactless smart card technology.
Higher education institutions have an opportunity – now – to build the infrastructure to support NFC and be prepared for the new norm.
NFC compatibility doesn’t just offer opportunity for enabled mobile phones but for compatible credentials in various forms, for example cards, stickers, fobs, wristbands etc. NFC-compatible contactless technology offers significant benefits for applications involving payment, transit, security and general identification on college campuses. In addition to ease of use, these contactless credentials stand apart from other common identification card technologies because of their inherent security and speed.
While bar codes, magnetic stripes, and 125 kHz proximity (prox) technologies have shouldered the burden for years, a contactless card is much more. Its read/write capable microcontroller chip can manage simple tasks such as storing track 2 data, or more exotic tasking such as storing digital certificates or biometric data. Regardless of the transaction type, NFC-compatible contactless technologies bring unparalleled speed and security to the table and at increasingly competitive prices.
The prominence of such applications in a campus environment makes the NFC-compatible credentials a clear choice for improving the student experience - especially as enabled devices show up on campus in greater and greater numbers. Each year, more students are bringing extraordinarily sophisticated and capable mobile phones to campus at their own expense, removing the financial burden from institutions to provide their community with capable hardware devices already embedded with NFC technology. This leaves it up to the institution to drive the strategy and engage solution providers to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.
This simple value proposition to the administration and to the cardholder is something college officials are starting to realize, understand and take advantage of as we move into 2012. Will you be besieged with students telling you how awesome their day was because they got to use a contactless credential? Probably not, but more and more often they will simply come to expect it, and the institution has to be prepared for that.
At my son’s 5th grade career day two years ago, I spoke of a fantastic scene in the not-so-distant future where they could use their mobile device to buy a soft drink, ride a bus or unlock a door. Instead of the eye-wide-open response I was expecting, I was met with “Well, why can’t we do that right now?” This class will be on your doorstep in no time, if they aren’t already.
About the AVISIAN Publishing Expert Panel
At the close of each year, AVISIAN Publishing’s editorial team selects a group of key leaders from various sectors of the ID technology market to serve as Expert Panelists. Each individual is asked to share their unique insight into what lies ahead. During the month of January, these panelist’s predictions are published daily at the appropriate title within the AVISIAN suite of ID technology publications: SecureIDNews, ContactlessNews, CR80News, NFCNews, DigitalIDNews, ThirdFactor, RFIDNews, EnterpriseIDNews, FinancialIDNews, GovernmentIDNews, HealthIDNews, FIPS201.com, IDNoticias es.
India’s Bangalore University will soon launch a smart card-based ID for its students and faculty, reports Daily News & Analysis.
The e-ID will function as an identification and debit card. The university plans to add functions to enable hall tickets, attendance records, report cards and degree certificates.
The university is teaming with Canara Bank and MGRM Net Ltd. for the project, which will initially reach 225,000 students, with an additional 70,000 each year. Canara is sponsoring the RS14.40 crore project for ten years.
Read more here.
Heartland Payment Systems Campus Solutions division has recruited 12 higher education districts and campuses totaling 20 different colleges to manage the schools’ financial aid disbursement services utilizing Heartland’s Acceluraid electronic disbursement product.
“Available as a standalone solution or integrated with Heartland’s complete campus OneCard system, Acceluraid simplifies a campus’ refund process by eliminating paper checks,” said Ron Farmer, executive director of Heartland’s campus solutions. Acceluraid also provides faster access to financial aid funds without charging pin debit and other fees, added Farmer.
Representing more than 110,000 enrolled students and nearly $290 million in annual financial aid refunds, these colleges include:
Students have a dedicated Web site to access information and transaction history concerning their school-branded Discover prepaid debit card issued by Oklahoma-based Central National Bank.
Upon activation, students’ financial aid funds are automatically deposited to the card and they can then use their funds anywhere Discover is accepted.
Dates: March 5-7, 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: Mirage Hotel
URL: Click here
Description: CARTES in North America will combine a high level conference program with international experts and a comprehensive exhibition featuring the most representative companies in card manufacturing, payment solutions, identification solutions and digital security.
Cheshire Integrated Transport Services teamed up with Applied Card Technologies (ACT) and sQuid to expand a UK smart card offering to the West Cheshire College and Chester College campuses.
According to thepaypers.com, the card combines cashless transactions, pay-as-you-go Cheshire Travelcard ITSO ticketing, ID card and retail and leisure discounts through Cheshire’s loyalty scheme. Students can view their accounts and maintain their balance online.
Students can deposit and replenish funds using Retail POST by ACT, a series of collection kiosks placed on both campuses. Alternatively, student travelers can add funds on the bus when boarding.
Read more here.