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Dave Falldien, senior systems administrator at Dalhousie State University

Let’s start with this tidbit: Within two years after Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, 80% of the affected companies that lacked a business-continuity plan failed, according to FEMA.

The campus card system is an important and intricate part of campus life. It facilitates campus security, access control and payments. Thus, lost transactions or down time have a direct impact on the entire campus, whether it’s a student being locked out of a residence or lost sales at retail locations. These impacts are financial and affect overall trust in the system.

Disaster recovery is the misunderstood, undervalued ugly duckling of the card service industry. It’s a dirty little secret that IT folks keep wrapped up to shelter clients from the realization that something bad can, and likely will, happen.

Though seldom discussed, everyone in the IT field has stories of lost email, documents, or even entire systems. The key is not loss, but rather the recovery.

Devise a plan

There are three basic parts to any disaster recovery plan: 1) build a business impact analysis; 2) define the scope of your new disaster recovery plan, including recovery times and individual responsibilities; and 3) create a communication strategy that includes who should be informed in each different failure state and who is responsible for sending out communication.

Though it seems simple, it is surprising how few people, departments and campuses actually implement the process.

The business impact analysis often moves beyond the scope of IT and should be considered a required part of any successful operation. It doesn’t take long to realize that if a POS system is offline across campus, transactions are not being processed and sales is being lost. Not only are you losing the transactions, you are also paying idle staff. These costs add up quickly and have a direct impact on your bottom line.

As the person responsible for the financial side of the card system, you should be able to see your disaster recovery plan at any time. If the person who maintains your card system infrastructure does not reside in your department, you should have ongoing dialog including how the last disaster recovery test went.

Business impact is the easy part of any new disaster recovery plan. The meat of the plan is in the definition of scope. It is also the most difficult part of the plan, but the reward time well spent pays off rapidly in the event of an outage.

The scope section should clearly define the situations addressed by the disaster recovery plan. This should be a comprehensive list, including everything from natural disasters to server-level crashes, lost hardware and anything in between.

In simple terms, the scope includes everything you are going to include in your disaster recovery plan.

What about me?

Perhaps as important as knowing what’s in scope is knowing what lies outside of it. This tends to be the touchier subject.

The unfortunate truth for some users is that their immediate needs might not align with what the institution constitutes an emergency.

The best way to get a full list of what you would like covered is to conduct a business impact analysis as part of an overall risk assessment of the system. This is ultimately a simple and clear cut way to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what services will be covered.

The University of New Brunswick, along with campuses nationwide, has begun classes for the fall. And like any university, UNB is tasked with bringing new students up to speed early in the semester to get them acclimated to campus and settled into university life. It's a job that the university's card office seems to be tackling head on via social media.

To accompany the opening of the fall semester, the New Brunswick UCard Office is running a scavenger hunt with the help of the office's official Twitter account, @UNBUcard. The contest is helping to promote online photo submission and the UCard in general, with one winner being awarded $250 worth of UCard Cash.

$250 UCard Cash would be pretty sweet, right? Come see us in the SUB & take a #UCardSelfie and it could be yours! pic.twitter.com/fjcmKtaBGD

— UNB UCard (@UNBUCard) September 22, 2015

There are a number of ways to promote not just the campus card, but the office that issues the credential as well. And when it comes to fostering student interest, New Brunswick's contest and presence on Twitter is a great place to start. An overwhelming number of college students are using Twitter, so why not engage with them directly?

And just like that, @RileyMacknight is entered to win $250 UCard Cash with #UNBFind. Bam. pic.twitter.com/OuOGdzurWx

— UNB UCard (@UNBUCard) September 22, 2015

New Brunswick's Twitter account is providing another means for students to engage with their campus card, but the posts don't necessarily have to be all about the card itself.

Wonder how many boxes of poptarts & mini-wheats you could buy from the #CampusShoppe with $250 UCard Cash... #UNBFindpic.twitter.com/gXX4O5Zr4A — UNB UCard (@UNBUCard) September 22, 2015

It's also an opportunity to promote other campus services and locations, like an on campus shop or restaurant, or driving more student attention to online photo submission.

#UNB Skip the line, submit online. Take a #UCardSelfie and submit your ID photo at http://t.co/d4PvehddUg#saycheesepic.twitter.com/cNKgyAocls — UNB UCard (@UNBUCard) May 20, 2015

Running these types of contests and giveaways can be a great way to drive traffic to university social media accounts, while also informing students of the value that their card holds. And with easy-to-use tools like Twitter that offer a great source of synergy for a card program, it's a win-win.

College students love their mobile devices. A recent Intel survey of 1,000 incoming college students found that 45% expect to rely on their mobile device more than their friends or family while on campus.

But whether it’s a wide-eyed freshman or a grizzled upperclassman, the rigors of a student schedule work up an appetite. Feeding students on campus has long consisted of cafeteria-style dining and on-campus restaurants, but just as technology has evolved, so too have the options available to students in need of a meal.

The latest trend to enter the dining services fold is mobile food ordering. Students place an order remotely via smartphone or tablet and choose a delivery option or skip to the head of the line for pickup. The service has gained significant momentum on campuses nationwide, and it is helping on-campus food services extend their reach to off-campus students.

For mobile food service provider, Tapingo, the idea of calling up food orders from a mobile device is as much a cultural shift as it is a technology shift.

“We expect to be able to communicate, get informed, and transact anytime, anywhere,” says Daniel Almog, CEO of Tapingo. “This cultural shift is reflected every day on college campuses, as students are demanding convenience in all aspects of university life.”

College students aren’t likely to plan and prepare three well-balanced meals. “It usually goes ‘Need food now,’ and whatever meets the intersection of ‘close by, convenient and fast’ is what gets consumed,” says Almog.

Building a platform

Mobile ordering offers a convenient alternative to students, but the service can also benefit the university food services.

CBORD has offered mobile ordering solutions, to varying degrees, for the past 10 years. The company’s first foray came in the form of Webfood back as 2004. At that time, orders were more likely to come in via PC or laptop, but the solution still featured many of the hallmarks of contemporary mobile ordering.

“Mobile ordering is great for the university that has an operational problem in food services that it wants to solve, or that wants to increase the level of service they provide to students,” says Susan Chaffee, director of product development at CBORD.

From our earlier mobile ordering solution, we learned that dining services face tough operational challenges when trying to roll out this type of service themselves, says Chaffee. They used the experience in the design of their new GET mobile ordering solution.

“With GET it’s kept simple,” says Chaffee. “It is easy to use for the student, and on the backend it’s easy to swap out menu items and prices.”

GET is integrated the Micros point-of-sale platform so that orders placed through GET automatically post to the campus’ POS system, she explains.

“This enables them to easily receive orders and report on those orders that come through online,” says Chaffee. “It’s an important operational consideration because without POS integration, dining services would have two different reporting mechanisms.”

With GET orders, the preferred payment method is the campus card account. “We have several universities that only accept campus card payments and don’t accept credit or debit,” says Chaffee. “They realize that the more students use it, the stronger the overall card program becomes.”

Mobile ordering is one component of CBORD’s overall GET platform that includes a range of additional account management and other services.

Campuses often start out with GET for the account management features, but they have had others show interest in GET simply for mobile ordering. “We really believe in the platform concept, and it has been proven in both directions,” says Chaffee.

Online card revalue is becoming the norm, but it carries hefty transaction fees and can leave certain users out in the cold. To combat this, many campuses complement it with old school value transfer stations.

The student ID is a great way to pay for that late night snack or last-minute print job from the computer lab, as long as there are funds in the account. But when it runs dry, there had better be a convenient way to reload.

Reloading funds has traditionally been handled in three different ways: in-person deposits at the card or bursar’s office, unattended deposits at value transfer stations or online transfer via a web revalue service.

Whether you call it value transfer station, an automated deposit machine or something else, the dominant method for loading funds to campus card accounts has been these dedicated machines strategically located around campus. They enable a student to manually insert cash or use a credit or debit card to transfer money to the campus card account.

In recent years, online revalue has taken over providing students, faculty, staff and parents the ability to remotely add money from any Internet-enabled device. The online method certainly offers greater flexibility and convenience, but does that make it the clear winner?

Or is there still a place for the revalue stations of old?

Machines strive to make their case

“Value transfer stations absolutely still have a place on campus,” says Kent Pawlak, product strategy director at Blackboard.

He points to students needing a quick influx of funds at a printer station, individuals without a debit or credit card and campus visitors. “Campuses are often closely tied to the community, so guest cards are necessary for library print and copy or purchases at a coffee shop.”

“I would say campuses certainly give pause to whether or not they should replace an outdated value transfer station with a new model,” says Pawlak. “It’s easier to top off cards online or via a mobile app, but the vast majority of institutions purchase at least one value transfer station.”

[pullquote]Campuses certainly give pause to whether or not they should replace an outdated value transfer station with a new model[/pullquote]

Moreover, Pawlak explains that there are still campuses that don’t offer online revalue. “Some campuses prefer the student come into a card office or visit a value transfer station,” he says. “Others keep a transfer station on campus because some people are hesitant to enter credit card or personal information online.”

“Our campuses are still installing revalue stations, so much so that we are releasing our newest generation of the devices,” says Jim Perkins, director of sales for colleges and universities at CBORD.

The company’s new Value Plus Reload Station accepts both cash and credit cards using secure end-to-end encryption, explains Perkins. It has a lockable bill magazine so the person emptying the machine does not have access to the cash.

No matter how you slice it, the trend is certainly moving away from hardware to software, says Fred Emery, director of OneCard sales at Heartland Campus Solutions. “We are seeing a massive shift from deposit machines to web and mobile,” says Emery. “With all of our installs this summer, we do not have one as of yet installing these machines.”

But just because new installations may be focused exclusively online, many mature programs still rely on the hardware option. At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a Heartland client, revalue machines still play an integral role.

UMass Lowell is a public university with two public access libraries – ideal environments for a revalue station. “Patrons often visit our libraries that do not have a UCard but want the ability to print,” says Jon Victorine, security technology director at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. “To avoid badging visitors that may only come to our libraries once, we deployed a machine in each library so they can purchase a UPrint visitor card and add value to it.”

Another added benefit to the revalue machine is that it provides students with a quick and easy means to add funds when they are running low and needing to print.

UPrint is deployed to 57 printers across campus, six of which are in libraries. “Revalue stations allows students to load funds onto their UCards in a pinch, although they also get $15 of free printing per semester and can add funds to their cards online,” says Victorine.

UMass Lowell uses Heartland Campus Solutions’ ADM-3 machines. “It’s a sturdy machine with a built-in card dispenser, cash acceptor, card reader and receipt printer,” says Victorine. The university opted not to accept payment cards at the machines to avoid the need to meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).

As for maintaining the machines, the costs are justifiable for UMass Lowell’s needs. “Our only recurring costs are licensing and hardware maintenance – the latter of which is optional but we want the insurance policy,” says Victorine. “We opt to not print receipts, so we only replace the paper every 3-4 years as audit report print outs require it.”

As far as staffing the operation, UMass Lowell’s internal collection policies require that two staff members be present when cash is emptied, says Victorine. “We have to empty the machines every week or two,” he adds.

The usage makes them essential to the program. “They receive a great deal of traffic and yield $250 to $500 per machine week, and during finals the usage triples,” says Victorine.

Though online revalue is widely used by the campus population, there is no plan to move exclusively online as the machines serve both students and library visitors.

Campus card photo submission has exploded over the last two years, with an increasing number of universities large and small now enabling students to upload their own ID photo. Photo submission is now being offered by the major card system vendors and third party providers like MyPhoto, and it's a service that not only allows students to avoid an unflattering photo, but also cuts time from the card issuance process.

But online photo submission is only effective if students know about the service. To make sure that students are informed about photo submission -- and more importantly know how to upload an acceptable photo -- the University of Tennessee's VolCard Office has a helpful webpage dedicated to its photo upload service.

The page features all the need-to-know information regarding acceptable photo parameters, lighting, sizes, backgrounds, cropping requirements, acceptable file formats and more. To accompany the guidelines, the page offers a sample ID photo along with a great video that describes how to utilize the photo upload service.

At Tennessee, all new and transfer students are eligible to submit their photo online and receive a new official VolCard, but the service applies for re-issuance as well. If a student's appearance changes and the picture on their current ID is no longer accurate, a new card may be processed free of charge as long as a student brings their current card with them. If a change of photo is not required, that is if a simply want a different picture, there is a $30 replacement fee.

Campus card photo submissions at Tennessee are are reviewed manually by the VolCard office in a process that can take up to two business days to clear. ID photos can only be submitted to the VolCard office via a student account at the university's WebCard Center website and logging in with a university username and password. From there, students will find a “Submit ID Photo” option and will be prompted to follow a set of instructions to upload a photo.

Students are also notified if/when a photo has been approved or rejected via email or text, with the default notification being an official university email address unless otherwise. Notification preferences, along with photo status checks, can be changed and viewed from the website.

Online photo submission can drastically cut time from the card issuance process, giving card office personnel the ability to pre-print IDs and get ahead of the game. But deploying the service alone may not be enough to reap the full rewards that these types of apps can provide. Valuable resources like the VolCard Office's informative webpage are a great way to promote a service that benefits both students and the card office alike.

This semester marks the first time that Miami of Ohio has printed cardholder birth dates on its student IDs since 2011, and a few short months later the decision seems to be paying dividends.

According to a report from The Miami Student, local bars are leveraging the change by requesting Miami student IDs at the door for admittance rather than state-issued IDs or driver licenses, which may carry false birth dates.

Despite the new advantage that bouncers have over their would-be age impersonators, ID vetting procedures remain fragmented. Some establishments have started requiring students to show two forms of ID, while others don't require students to show their campus ID.

Per the report, most upperclassmen who carry the older student ID still don’t have birth dates on their cards. The consensus seems to be, however, the addition of birth dates on the student ID is making it more difficult for students to use a fake ID.

The report also suggest that there are murmurs of underage students scratching off the birthdate on their IDs.

The university's Office of Residence Life says the the cards will be useful to the university when violations to the student code of conduct occur, particularly as it relates to alcohol offenses. When processing reports involving violations of the code of conduct are birth dates of the individuals involved are required, and the student IDs could be a valuable tool in that process.

Fake IDs remain a common, if not rampant, problem at colleges and universities across the country but the new policy at Miami shows that there are ways to stifle their use. Miami's decision to print birth dates on its cards also shows that certain personal cardholder information can be used effectively and provide a valuable service.

South Carolina's Francis Marion University has signed a food-service contract with Aramark Corporation effective this fall.

Per a report from Francis Marion's The Partiot, the university put pen to paper on a seven-year contract in April of 2015. As part of the new agreement, Aramark has created a new system for on-campus dining at FMU, including the addition of an on-campus cafe that brings Starbucks and Subway to the Florence campus.

Per the report, at the conclusion of the university's contract with previous provider, Sodexo, Francis Marion was required to choose a different company. As is typically the case with the RFP process, Sodexo had the same opportunity to compete for the contract. Only two other companies, Aramark and Chartwells, submitted proposals.

In addition to the new central cafe location that features Starbucks and Subway,there are also plans for an on-campus convenience store located in one of the university's dining halls. The university is calling this new location a "P.O.D." or Provisions on Demand. The convenience store will accept the university's Patriot Bucks included in student meal plans.

New meal plans are also available for purchase, and students living on campus are eligible to purchase either an All Access or All Access Plus meal plan. The All Access Meal Plan gives students unlimited meals with $25 in Patriot Bucks, while the All Access Plus meal plan gives students unlimited meals with $150 in Patriot Bucks.

Students living either in Francis Marion's on-campus apartments or off campus can also purchase meal plans at 50, 80 or 160 meals per semester with $30 in Patriot Bucks. Alternatively, students can directly purchase $300 in Patriot Bucks from the university.

George Washington University's student association is planning to create a new iteration of the university's existing 4-RIDE service that will be integrated into the university's official app.

Per a report from The GW Hatchet, the new 4-RIDE app will enable students to track the location of their vehicle, similar to the car service app Uber. The changes to the GW app have already been sent to university officials and are pending finalization.

George Washington's 4Ride service provides campus community members with a safe ride to and from locations on and around the Foggy Bottom Campus. The service operates daily from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Students can currently request the service in one of two ways: through a quick link on the university's MyGW portal, or by calling the service's dedicated phone line.

The MyGW Portal option allows students to schedule one ride at a time, up to two hours in advance. When a van is assigned to a student's request, the online system will show where the van is located in relation to the student's location on a map, and will send a text message when a van is close. The new app would integrate this service onto the campus' smartphone app.

An assistant computer science professor at the university, along with George Washington students, have helped to create the apps in the past, and recruit students to help create the software. The 4-RIDE app will be one of a group of projects that seniors in the professor's class can choose as a focus for a senior design project. The 4-RIDE app could become a prototype to bring to administrators later this year, or a project that a senior takes on after graduation to fully implement on campus.

Other changes have been to the university's official app during the summer that focus on the 4-RIDE feature. Students can now receive a text message when their 4-RIDE has arrived to pick them, rather than the previous notification when a ride was on is on its way. Students can also track the location of their 4-RIDE on a campus map.

Starting this year, Ole Miss students will be able to transfer season football tickets to other students as part of a new policy intended to keep the student section as full as possible during home games.

As reported by The DM Online, the university wanted to both offer students more flexibility in the even they unable to attend a game, as well as enable students to put unused tickets to good use.

To transfer tickets, students log onto their Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Member account and select the transfer option. To proceed to transfer, the ticket holder has to select an event and enter the recipients’ name, e-mail and phone number. The receiving student must accept the transfer and complete the finalizations sent to them via e-mail within 48 hours to have the ticket successfully loaded onto their student ID.

The transfer process is free through the athletics department. “If the students are paying each other for the tickets, that would be a private negotiation that does not involve athletics,” says Wesley Owen, assistant athletics director at Ole Miss.

The new policy is likely to come in handy, as student tickets sold out in an incredibly short timeframe. The new policy permits tickets to only be transferred between university student IDs, with only one ticket being allowed on each ID per game.

Paper bus passes will soon be a thing of the past for London students following the announcement that the London Transit Commission will now issue smart cards are hitting the streets just in time for back-to-school — for some.

Per a report from the London Free Press, Fanshawe College students were the first to use the new smart card technology embedded in their student IDs, enabling them to simply tap a terminal to pay their fare. The London Transit Commission has been working on launching the cards since 2012 but glitches and testing have repeatedly delayed the launch.

For the general public, replacing the regular monthly bus pass with the new smart card has been pushed back to October. Meanwhile, some 27,000 Western University students, who receive bus passes as part of their student tuition, will not yet benefit from the new smart bus passes as the university is still updating its student cards with the necessary chip technology.

The new smart card passes are expected to expedite the boarding process, making the system more efficient and running closer to schedule. The London Transit Commission will also be able to discern more information on rider usage, including when and where buses are boarded, giving the commission the opportunity to fine-tune the system.

There have been some reported temporary glitches with some Fanshawe student cards not being accepted by the card readers due to a delay in updating Fanshawe registration information into the London Transit Commission system. The smart card system cost the London Transit Commission roughly $3.7 million to launch.

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The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.
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A dining services push at the @UBuffalo is reinforcing the utility of self-service checkout. @CBORD is improving the food service experience using the GET app, as well as Nextep kiosks and Oracle’s Micros Simphony POS.

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