Dates: September 18-20, 2012
Location: Tampa, Florida
Venue: Tampa Convention Center
Description: The 2012 Biometric Consortium Conference and Technology Expo, presented by AFCEA, NIST and NSA, will address the important role that biometrics plays in identification and verification of individuals for government and commercial applications worldwide.
The Conference will be two and a half days of presentations, seminars and panel discussions with the participation of internationally recognized experts in biometric technologies, system and application developers, IT business strategists, and government and commercial officers. The 2012 Conference and Expo focuses on biometric technologies for homeland security, identity management, border crossing, electronic commerce, and other applications.
Tom Bell offers expertise to campus card directors
Paraphrasing a famous comedian, Tom Bell says that campus card programs ‘get no respect.’ This is despite the fact that if a school’s card program were suddenly to go away, he believes the university would practically shut down.
Bell considers himself an evangelist for the campus card industry and for the past 11-years he has been shouting the merits of campus cards. He’s still doing it today, but on his own and not as a part of Blackboard Transact, which first hired him in 2001 to help build the company’s then new campus card division.
Bell joined Blackboard from the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he was executive director of the school’s auxiliary services corporation. “I ran all the money-making businesses on campus and that’s what got me involved in card programs,” says Bell. He was so involved, in fact, that he and several other campus card personnel helped found the National Association of Campus Card Users.
Bell, who lives in Rochester, N.Y., with Robin, his wife of 40-years, left Blackboard in July 2011.
“I was looking around trying to discover what I wanted to be,” says Bell. “Eventually I began to get calls from people wanting assistance and I enjoyed this so I made it official and incorporated,” he adds.
TGB Consulting–the “G” stands for Graham–was formed in February to helps campus clients define goals and develop strategies to reach them. “If you think about it, we are often trying to maximize our value to the administration,” says Bell.
“I ran an Auxiliary corporation for 28-years and I understand the politics and how campuses work. I can bring ideas on better student services and correct conflicts in operations that may be hurting revenue streams.”
As to the late Rodney Dangerfield’s joke about never getting any respect, Bell says many campus card offices feel the same way. “They’re hidden on campus and not recognized,” he adds.
For what a campus card office does it’s forgotten when it comes to the budget. “The card office is running access control, food service, activity control, yet the campus tends to forget that when it comes to funding. If you look at a typical computer, it’s probably no more than three years old, yet some typical card systems are 20-years old,” says Bell. “There is no understanding as to what it takes to run a card office.”
He likes to ask administrators what would happen if their institution’s card system suddenly shut down. “There would be major problems,” says Bell. “Doors wouldn’t work, students couldn’t pay for meals … all reporting would go away.”
Thus he stresses that the campus card office needs to become a more visible part of the institution. He wants to end what he calls the “organizational vanishing act.”
“Card programs run behind the scenes and support many campus functions focused on student engagement, campus safety and accountability,” Bell says. “I can help campus executives understand the role and importance of these programs. The result is improved recognition and respect for campus card programs.”
That can also lead to a greater return on investment. “One of my most enjoyable tasks is to find new revenue or other value opportunities,” says Bell.
One problem found at schools is multiple, competing cards for different applications. “At one school, I was told that only one card existed,” explains Bell. “By the end of my analysis at least five others were found. All could have been easily combined saving costs and bringing more value to the official one card program,” he says.
When Bell first comes on a campus, he likes to meet not just with campus card personnel but also with other administrators and even students.
In his meetings with students, he asks how the card program is working for them and what’s important. At one school, a student told him he wanted his financial aid deposited to his ID card. He lived in a remote town in Europe which is where his financial aid check was mailed. It took quite awhile for the check to catch up with him. “It’s good to have these discussions because campuses don’t often have them,” says Bell.
Bell’s new consulting business is young but he still considers himself a campus card evangelist. “I always have been,” he says. “I love college students, I love working with them. I love figuring out how to do a card program in the best way possible. And it’s a great way to make a living.”
The British government has advised that schools will not be able to use students’ biometric data unless parents consent, reports politics.co.uk.
The government’s advice, released on Tuesday for consultation, was updated to include items from the newly enacted Freedoms Act 2012. This new advice will take effect in September 2013.
This ruling may prevent schools from using biometrics for functions such as attendance tracking, library access or processing cashless payments. It results from parents being upset over schools using their children’s personal data without permission.
The new legislation says that students under age 18 will need written parental consent in order to allow this type of data usage. Schools will also need to follow the principles in the Data Protection Act.
Read more here.
Datacard Group, a provider of secure ID and card personalization solutions, has rolled out a new blog designed to cover industry topics and offer insights on the latest news of the day. Called Datacard Edge, the company wants to enhance its communications with customers, partners, prospects and industry experts.
In addition, the blog is designed to showcase industry information and best practices. Focused primarily on the markets Datacard serves–including financial, government and secure ID–the blog will feature various content contributors who are knowledgeable in their respective fields.
The first articles on Datacard Edge relate primarily to the financial market, including a post that outlines the advantages of implementing an instant issuance program as well as one that discusses EMV technology migration in the U.S.
Visitors can subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed and share posts via Twitter and LinkedIn. They can also suggest topics for posts and submit comments.
Secondary schools finding value in advanced IDs
Kindergarten through high school … the final frontier for the higher education campus card provider. While ID cards are not uncommon in school hallways, the secondary education market is virtually untapped when it comes to advanced campus card systems.
Campus card providers including CBORD, Blackboard, CardSmith and Heartland are working to gain a foothold in the K-12 market. A handful of progressive high schools are already finding that advanced card systems can ease many administrative burdens and give students a glimpse into their future when they head to college and are responsible for their own budget.
Adlai Stevenson High School, a public school near Chicago, could almost pass for a college. Occupying a million square feet and comprising its own school district, it is a successful college preparatory school with 97% of its graduates going on to college. It uses technology from Blackboard to power its campus card program.
There’s also Williston Northampton School, a private school served by CardSmith in Easthampton, Mass. It has 528 middle and high school students and is a combination day and boarding school.
The Burlington School District in Vermont is serviced by Heartland School Solutions, a division of Heartland created specifically to manage the K-12 market.
And the 3900 students at the Singapore American School rely on CBORD for campus card solutions. It is located on a 34-acre tract and features three cafeterias, three swimming pools, four libraries, three theaters, eight gymnasiums, a broadcasting studio, a climbing gym and tennis courts.
It makes sense for campus card companies to broaden horizons because there’s not a lot of difference between high schools and colleges. “High schools are like smaller college campuses,” says Jay Summerall, president of CardSmith.
“High schools have a very similar list of needs as do many of our university clients,” says Jeff Staples, Blackboard Transact’s vice president of market development strategy. “The most glaring differences regard residential needs.”
High schools need everything from payment to identity driven services to secure access, Staples adds. ” K-12 has different reporting requirements–such as free and reduced lunch controls–but at the end of the day it still comes down to managing assets and services.”
At least some see the level of interest from schools increasing. “I think there’s momentum among high schools to advance card systems,” says Summerall. “We have a fairly steady stream of inquiries, and we’ve picked up some in the last year or two. It’s a business we’re starting to focus on.”
A major advantage is that the schools eliminate handling cash, says Summerall. “It alleviates a big administrative burden at the cashier level,” he adds.
“I had one administrator overjoyed she wouldn’t have her staff collecting coins from laundry and vending machines,” says Summerall. This can free up time for multiple staff members because to physical collection of money typically requires dual controls and chaperones.
“As a high school the availability of a cashless system is huge,” says Mark Michelini, assistant superintendent for business at Adlai Stevenson. “We’re not counting dollar bills any more.”
The institution, named after a former Illinois governor who ran for president in 1952 and 1956, went live with Blackboard Transact in August 2010 using the system for stored value accounts. Blackboard Transact also helps ensure students using the free and reduced lunch program are not recognizable by others, ensuring anonymity and privacy, says Michelini.
The school went from using two separate stored value accounts–food services and bookstore accounts–to a one card solution, adds Staples. Blackboard also provides online deposit capability so parents can fund student accounts.
Another goal was to give students a glimpse into college life, says Douglas Kahler, Stevenson’s director of information services. “I enjoy the fact I can go to a vending machine and use my Blackboard card. Faculty, staff, everyone is utilizing the card,” says Kahler.
CBORD entered into the K-12 market in 1996 when it started serving two private schools, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and The Latin School of Chicago, says Read Winkelman, CBORD’s vice president of sales.
The company also serves the Singapore American School in Southeast Asia. The school was established in 1956 to serve the growing American community while Singapore was still part of Malaysia. It is located on a 34-acre campus on the north end of the island. The buildings themselves include more than 1 million square feet and serve 3,900 students from ages three to 18. The population consists of 55 nationalities with 72% holding an American passport, says William Scarborough, director of finance and business operations at the school.
Singapore presented its own challenges when it went looking for a card provider. For example, in its review of vendors, the school had to eliminate several because they only offered 110-volt equipment as opposed to 230 volt, says Scarborough.
He says that they found CBORD offered a robust product offering and had local representation out of Australia. The company provides an ID card with two purses or accounts. The first is controlled the school and used in cafeterias and vending machines on campus. The second is managed by a national provider and can be used at 15,000 merchants in Singapore, including the public transit systems and for parking and road tolls, explains Scarborough.
In addition, Singapore American uses CBORD’s integrated POS system, printer and copier control, CCTV with 250 cameras and access control turnstiles at entrances to campus and various office doors. Additionally, card readers are installed on 115 school buses to record rider access.
Summerall says he had no idea that he would be involved with the secondary school market, when CardSmith was first founded nine-years ago.
The company started serving the secondary market in 2005-06. Most clients are private high schools, both day and boarding schools. “They sought us out and we learned what their needs were and some of the nomenclatures,” Summerall adds.
The Massachusetts-based Williston Northampton School is in its fourth year with CardSmith, says Chuck McCullagh, the school’s chief financial officer. He cites three reasons the school wanted to build a robust campus card program for its students.
“First we wanted to be able to use the card on campus for transactions–to purchase from the soda machine, the campus store, snack bar, library. We wanted to eliminate the need for cash,” says McCullagh.
Second, the school wanted to provide parents the ability to track their student’s charges in real time. “They can look at the status of the student account,” McCullagh says. “We have a number of international students and it’s good for those families.”
Williston’s third reason–one cited by numerous schools–is that most of their students will be going to college and need to learn budgeting and financial responsibility. “They have to learn how to manage the card and their spending,” says McCullagh.
When you add public schools to the mix, there are more reporting requirements, such as tracking free and reduced lunch recipients.
While CBORD could offer K-12 any of the services it offers higher education, the company had a challenge in the cafeteria. “We don’t have a program that manages free and reduced lunch,” says Winkelman.
Horizon Software International fixed that. CBORD’s parent company, Roper Industries, acquired Horizon in 2008 to serve public school systems. “Horizon represents approximately half of the mega school districts in the U.S.,” says Randy Eckels, Horizon president and former CBORD senior vice president of sales and marketing.
Together, CBORD and Horizon serve about 30,000 schools, says Eckels.
Horizon is 20-years-old and was created for the single purpose of serving the K-12 market, says Eckels. It was originally a back of the house software solution used for menu planning, procurement and production, he adds.
Still most public schools and Horizon clients don’t issue ID cards or use them in the cafeteria. In high schools PINs or fingerprints are more common than plastic cards, says Eckels. Older students enter a PIN number when going through the cafeteria line, but for younger kids, the cafeteria relies on the child’s picture to access the account and determine whether he’s on free or reduced lunch, says Eckels.
Horizon’s MyPaymentsPlus system enables a parent to deposit funds online for lunch money, vending purchases and student fees, says Eckels.
Even without a physical campus card, the system eliminates cash handling. Students can even enter a four-digit code at a vending machine. “(For K-12) It’s a more practical implementation than a card system,” says Eckels.
Others see these PIN and biometric solutions as an ideal intro to full-blown campus card implementations. As schools get a sense of the administrative efficiencies, it can open their eyes to other possibilities.
Heartland entered the K-12 market by acquiring four companies to form its School Solutions division, says Keith Womack, Heartland’s School Solutions director. “We started two years ago, acquiring companies with 25 years’ experience in the K-12 space,” says Womack. “We saw a real advantage to serving K-12 schools.”
The companies acquired by Heartland include: School-Link Technologies, solutions provider for payments management; LunchBox Software, provider of school nutrition software; Comalex, developer of POS and food service functions; and MySchoolBucks, a Web site for parents to pay for their child’s meals and other expenses.
Student account usage keeps lunch lines moving rapidly, says Womack, noting that most students have just 20 minutes to eat.
“Students tend to spend more when they have money in accounts,” he adds. “And we can provide lots more information to parents.”
Think children can order and eat anything they want in the cafeteria? Think again. With SeeMyPlate, another Heartland product that is integrated into the cafeteria’s POS system, a photo of the student’s tray is captured at checkout. “The picture is uploaded to our parent Web site for secure access to their child’s meal purchase,” adds Womack. Parents can see what their child buys. SeeMyPlate is currently deployed in five school districts.
The Burlington School District in Vermont relies on Heartland software in the cafeteria, for free and reduced lunch programs and vending, says Doug Davis, Burlington’s director of food service.
Like many clients, Davis is exploring opportunities to grow the system into other areas and applications.
Womack believes that many of the products currently in use in the campus arena will be pushed down to the K-12 market with even more use for ID cards. “It’s coming. I don’t know when but it is coming,” says Womack.
Campus card providers have a distinct advantage when working with K-12 schools because they can utilize services they’ve perfected in the college market without reinventing the wheel.
David Minutella, manager of customer solutions at CardSmith, provides the example of financial aid allowances. “We set up an automated routine that works like a meal plan,” he explains. IN the past, recipients had to regularly visit the school’s financial aid office, but CardSmith automated the process depositing the money directly to the student’s card. “It’s done anonymously so all they have to do is present the card at the cafeteria,” says Minutella.
Applications like this translate well from higher education to K-12, suggesting a strong future for willing campus card providers in a large new market.
Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University and campus card service provider CardSmith have announced plans to upgrade the university’s multi-functional Rattler Card program.
The new Rattler Card will feature Rattler Bucks, a prepaid spending account offering FAMU’s more than 13,000 students cashless access to an expanded range of campus facilities and services including the bookstore, dining venues, mobile payments, campus offices and off-campus merchants.
The card includes facility and library privileges and can also be used as a bank debit card. The university is upgrading its card production system to issue cards to all incoming students this fall.
The new Rattler Card is powered by CardSmith’s managed cloud transaction system, enabling the university to provide campus-wide transaction services without local systems, software or dedicated administrative staff.
The university’s new service features Web and mobile cardholder account access, funds transfer service, on-line reporting, on-line administrative access and 24/7 monitoring. The upgrade will include new branding and graphics for the card and a dedicated Web site. The University and CardSmith also plan to build an off-campus acceptance network for Rattler Bucks.
Obtaining fake IDs, such as driver licenses, is becoming harder for college students. Not only must they deal with local law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security can also get involved.
That’s what happened recently when dozens of Seattle University students were caught importing fake driver licenses from China.
Homeland Security officers got wind of a suspicious package heading for a residence hall on the Seattle University campus. The package turned out to be fraudulent licenses that were to go to 65 students.
While those students could have ended up with a felony record for importing fake IDs from overseas, DHS officials decided to let the school fine and sanction the students instead of making a federal case out of it.
Read more here.
Student cards already serve attendance, access control
To use a transportation analogy, three separate tracks are coming together in Philadelphia to form a very interesting student ID and public transit solution.
On track number one, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority is preparing to launch an open loop fare collection system that will enable commuters to pay for rides using a variety of different payment methodologies.
The Transportation Authority voted in November to award a $129.5 million contract to ACS Transport Group to install what SEPTA describes as a contactless open fare payment and collection system. The system will do away with tokens, paper tickets, and magnetic strip passes, opting instead to use devices such as cell phones, bank cards or prepaid cards equipped with contactless technology to enable riders to manage their transit fares more easily and make it so the transit agency no longer has to issue fare cards.
On track number two, the School District of Philadelphia has an established program that provides paper bus passes to students so they can take public transportation to and from school at discounted rates.
And on track number three, the company ScholarChip has been providing smart card attendance and identification technologies to the school district since 2006.
According to Maged Atiya, chief technology officer at ScholarChip, approximately 100,000 contactless Mifare cards have been issued to students at 70 district schools to manage building attendance and security, automate classroom attendance and record disciplinary events.
As these three tracks converge, the school district and ScholarChip are working with ACS to enable students’ smart card IDs to work on the open-loop transit system, Atiya says. “Our system and the ACS system will work together in real time so that students can pick up their ID at the school and then use it on the bus,” he adds.
The district has had a full-time employee spend half their time managing the paper transit pass systems for students, Atiya says. This won’t be necessary once the new system is deployed since the systems will be linked and automatically reconciled.
The system will also be able to make sure the passes are only used for valid transit to and from school, Atiya explains. Since the ID will be programmed with the student’s address it will not allow travel to other areas of the city.
The system is poised to move beyond smart cards and ID cards as well. ScholarChip is rolling out its near field communication (NFC) mobile phone application which will allow riders on the SEPTA system to use either their ScholarChip smart card or their NFC phone as a token. And the ScholarChip issuance system will be fully cloud based, potentially allowing community groups and other similar agencies to use smart cards on the public transport system.
SEPTA has said it expects to undertake its new payment technologies program in three phases: first a design and testing phase, followed by two implementation phases. SEPTA expects the modernized fare system to be complete within three years.
New York-based ScholarChip was established in 2000 to provide Web-centric, cloud-based solutions for the education market. The company provides smart card IDs to the K-12 market and payment gateway and electronic signature solutions for Higher Education. Its K-12 smart card solution has grown into a security and multi-point attendance platform used by urban, suburban and rural school districts.
In 2011 Washington DC’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer partnered with the District Department of Transportation to add the school transit subsidy program to the DC One Card. Rob Mancini, chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, says the transportation department approached his office about adding this program, which is a four-way partnership between the CTO, transportation, the school system and the Metro.
It will take 18 months to roll out, and will cover the approximately 14,000 students who participate in the Transit Subsidy Program.
The DC One Card replaces the current paper voucher system. “[It gives us the] ability to control eligibility and use of the program in a more efficient way,” says Aaron Overman, acting associate director of the Progressive Transportation Services Administration at the transportation department.
With the analog system, there was no way to trace use of the program back to the student, says Overman. This made it possible for fraudulent use student transit subsidies. “Anecdotally we hear all the time about students graduating high school and taking a younger student’s card,” says Overman.
If students lost their transit pass, they also had to pay to replace it. Tying the subsidy to the card enables electronic trace back. If a card is lost or stolen, it can be turned off and the subsidy can be prorated onto a new card. “It lessens the burden of lost or stolen cards,” says Overman.
Parents pay $30 per month per student for the transit subsidy. An adult fare is five to six times that much, says Overman.
Following a successful pilot in April 2011, the program expanded to all public high schools and middle schools at the end of 2011, with a mandate that all eligible students use a DC One Card for transit subsidies beginning on Jan. 1, 2012.
The next step is to add the city’s 60 to 70 charter schools to the program. Overman says the office will implement a three-school pilot early in 2012.
Adding the charter schools provides challenges in that each charter school is run individually so the department of transportation will have to bring these smaller, individually run systems into one larger system.
Still they feel the effort is worthwhile, projecting an ultimate savings of 20% via the electronic transit subsidy program.