Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security

By Jeff Koziol, Allegion’s business development manager of campus software partners

2020… What a year it has been. December is the time of year when we start discussing what the next year will bring. While we’re all excited to close the door on the last several months and look ahead to 2021, I know that there’s also a lot of uncertainty in our future. That said, I am hopeful. I think we will learn from this year and evolve to create better, safer campuses for students, faculty and staff.

Of course, technology and innovation doesn’t stop. Even during the pandemic, new software was introduced to help with contact tracing while access had to be reimagined all over campus. Here’s a glimpse at a few trends that I think we can expect in 2021 and beyond.

Continuation of mobile adoption

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that mobile will continue to be a hot topic in 2021. I anticipate that we will continue to see adoption for improved convenience, efficiency and security. Leveraging NFC technology gives users a more seamless experience from access and transactions, to distribution and management.

Enhanced security is a significant benefit of upgrading to mobile credentials, especially for those still using unencrypted technology. In fact, Mark McKenna, director of the CATcard Service Center at University of Vermont, shared during a webinar that the main reason his team converted to mobile credentials was to eliminate the use of mag stripe on campus for more secure transactions.

Mobile credentials themselves are more secure than older technology like magnetic stripe or proximity cards. On top of that you have the fact it’s on the student’s smartphone. When was the last time you saw a young adult go anywhere or do anything without their device? They’re less likely to loan it out or lose it. And if they do lose it, I’d give it less than an hour before they notice and lock the device or locate it.

Colleges and universities understand the value of mobile credentials, and I anticipate more will move from discussions to adoption in the coming year or two. And soon the Android solution for the Google Wallet will be available and will only help to further advance the adoption.

"Colleges and universities understand the value of mobile credentials, and I anticipate more will move from discussions to adoption in the coming year or two."

Doug Vanderpoel, manager of enterprise services at Mount Holyoke College, also sees a bright future for mobile adoption. “One of the things that excites me most about the future of credentialing is not just mobile itself but the possibilities it opens up, like geo location and geo marketing. Apps and the credentials will merge. A class schedule will be able to guide a student to her classroom, while the credential lets her in the door.”

Another benefit of mobile technology is that credentials are remotely deployed. It’s easier for your staff and it eliminates the need for students to pick up cards in person. Given the risks, your institution doesn’t want students lining up, risking students and staff.

Similarly, mobile is contactless, which is a hot topic when considering the overall health of a campus. The less students, faculty and staff are touching, the better.

Universities take control of credentials & deeper conversations about interoperability

Interoperability enables various technology systems to communicate, exchange and interpret information. With campus cards, interoperability enables a credential to work across multiple hardware manufacturers spanning access control, point of sale and other third-party applications.

Today, open interoperable solutions are optimal to the dated proprietary model that has long existed in the industry. When I look in my crystal ball to predict the future, I see universities taking a more active role in their technology choices. That starts with considering manufacturing partners who embrace open, non-proprietary flexible solutions.

“In North America, high frequency, or smart card technology, has long been dominated by a proprietary encryption key technology and business model,” says Paul Iverson, credential solutions business leader at Allegion. “As the industry evolves to non-proprietary and open architecture solutions and partnerships, end users are beginning to evaluate the dated proprietary model, which creates leverage and control for the manufacturer.”

"I see universities taking a more active role in their technology choices. That starts with considering manufacturing partners who embrace open, non-proprietary flexible solutions."

While some campuses might have hardware from a single manufacturer on campus, it’s more common that there is a mix, creating a more complex medley of credentials, readers and electronic locks. These solutions need to work together harmoniously, where the credential can open every door and interface with other readers for dining, bookstore purchases, laundry, vending and other applications on campus, regardless of where the lock or reader came from.

Manufacturers aligned with partners like NXP embrace the scenario described above utilizing custom encryption keys. Custom encryption keys are secure and create control for the university rather than the manufacturer. Should the end user’s technology or strategic needs change, they enjoy the flexibility of taking possession of the key at any time and can seek additional manufacturing relationships to serve their technology and business needs.

“There’s a choice of manufacturers in the market,” says Iverson. “Some use a proprietary model creating manufacturer control in the relationship while others embrace non-proprietary models and the new paradigm of the future.”

“I encourage you to ask the manufacturer, ‘If at any time I elect to take possession of the key, will you provide the key to us?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ it sounds like you’re working with a manufacturer offering a non-proprietary custom key as an option,” Iverson says. “If the answer is ‘no,’ you’re likely working with a manufacturer aligned with a proprietary encryption key offering. This can limit your freedom to choose hardware manufacturers down the road.”

Invest in the freedom of choice and put control in your hands. Ask questions and choose wisely so you don’t box yourself in.

Investing in the student experience

Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on the student experience. Colleges want students back on campus, and they want them to choose their campus. Entice students with your offering and stand out.

What value does your campus bring to the student? How can you reassure parents’ safety and security concerns? Your campus card could be the answer.

If you’re going to market your campus card as a perk for students, it’s important to ensure it really is going above and beyond. This doesn’t mean you have to have mobile, though students are going to start expecting that in the coming years. Start by expanding your campus card capabilities.

“Students are the reason we’re here. They’ve been using mobile devices from a young age and we need to keep up with the technology that their expecting.”

--Doug Vanderpoel, manager of enterprise services at Mount Holyoke College

When universities move to smart card solutions, regardless of provider, they often stop at access control. They tend to overlook things like vending, dining and POS readers. When the mobile student IDs in the Apple Wallet came around, universities were forced to address all areas where cards were being used. Now we’ve seen universities expand the use case, even those not using the Apple solution. They want their contactless card to go beyond door access; they want it for transactions and more.

While you can still attract students with a full-service campus card, I wouldn’t completely overlook mobile. Students will start to expect this option in the future. We’ve had an evolution over last 20 years moving from key rings to plastic ID cards. Now we’re seeing a similar migration away from the traditional wallet with credit cards, membership cards and now keys all moving to the digital wallet.

“Students are the reason we’re here,” insists Mount Holyoke’s, Vanderpoel. “They’ve been using mobile devices from a young age and we need to keep up with the technology that their expecting.”

Technological advancements beyond 2021 & the expansion of software capabilities

Technological advancement isn’t a trend as it’s constantly evolving to further our industry. That said, I think it’s worth noting a few ways that technology will impact higher education institutions in 2021 and beyond.

In 2020, campuses were able to use credentials to provide in-demand services to deal with the pandemic, like contact tracing. Moving forward, universities can benefit from using that same data for capacity management and situational awareness.

While it all centers around the credential, a higher adoption of readers and wireless locks will increase the amount of data that a campus can access to better implement these capabilities. It becomes more valuable because it’s being used in more places.

"In 2020, campuses used credentials to provide in-demand services to deal with the pandemic, like contact tracing. Moving forward, universities can use that same data for capacity management and situational awareness."

Of course, when gathering data, the quality of that data matters. When using a card technology that can be easily duplicated, that data suffers. You don’t want someone to be able to take a card to a Key Me station and duplicate it, so it’s important to have encrypted technology in place first.

Cyber security and privacy concerns have been in the spotlight this year, and I don’t anticipate that will change in 2021. At Allegion, we have teams dedicated to addressing both topics. Looking beyond 2021, I see a lot of opportunity for our market. One example of this is the emergence of Ultra-Wideband (UWB).

“We’ve already seen how NFC and BLE have made access control more seamless through mobile devices,” says Brian Marris, product manager of Allegion connected accessories. “In the next five years, UWB will take this to the next level.”

“Location precision is improved, and it will recognize intent in a way that isn’t possible today.” Adds Marris. “Say I have my phone in my pocket and I’m approaching a door. UWB is tracking me within a few inches, and it knows by the way I’m facing and when I’m within a certain range that my intent is to walk through that door. It then authenticates my credential without me having to take it out of my pocket.”


While 2020 wasn’t the year we expected, I believe this is an exciting time for our industry. We learned a lot this year. For example, I bet pandemic planning is going to be key for universities, even after there is a vaccine. Campuses have done a good with their strategies to keep students safe on campus. And now they’re going to be prepared for health-related emergencies moving forward.

We’ve also seen technology help us in ways we might have overlooked in the past, like remote deployment and contact tracing. I think this innovative spirit will continue across our industry as we strive to design better campus experiences. More schools will introduce mobile credentials, while others expand the capabilities of their current technology.

When you look to the future, what do you see? Let me know by connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Trusted identity solutions provider, HID Global, is providing Bay State College a means to conduct digitized contact tracing on its Boston campus leveraging HID Bluetooth BEEKs to provide real-time location services. The HID Bluetooth beacons come in the form of simple badge holders that are used to carry existing ID badges for students, faculty, staff and guests.

The beacons are part of a solution that makes it possible to quickly and easily perform contact tracing, removing the manual and time-consuming effort to identify who has been in contact with whom on campus.

“Contact tracing is a key component for safely operating our campuses and considered by health departments to be one of the most important efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” says Jeffrey E. Myers, Chief Information Officer with Bay State College. “HID BEEKS beacons are  carried by each person on campus as part of our solution that enabled us to safely resume in-person classes and keep our campus operational should isolated parts of our community find themselves infected.”

The HID BEEKS Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons provide the starting data that Bay State’s contact tracing solution uses to calculate the time, place, and proximity of faculty, staff, and students while on the college’s two campuses. The information from the beacons enables college administrators to comply with state and local occupancy mandates and, when needed, rapidly respond to cases. Logs are maintained only for the 14-day period required for contact tracing, and the university has adopted strict privacy policy guidelines for data use and access.

“We are very pleased that Bay State College has used HID BEEKs Beacons to help streamline and accelerate the often daunting task of contact tracing,” says Mark Robinton, vice president of IoT Services at HID Global. “In addition to creating a completely digitized approach to this process, HID’s offering is part of a broader platform that provides smart building and optimization capabilities that extend well beyond today’s pressing need to stem the spread of COVID-19.”

HID BEEKS Beacons are part of a suite of components in the HID Location Services for Workplace Safety designed to streamline and simplify the management of social distancing. These workplace safety solutions build on the HID Location Services platform, which has already been deployed by a number of Fortune 500 companies worldwide to manage building occupancy, optimize office and facility space, improve energy efficiency and enhance security.

Trusted identities, payments and data protection provider, Entrust, has launched a virtual reality app to showcase its latest card printer, the Sigma, for anyone interested in checking out the new features. In a time when showcases on a trade show floor aren't possible, Entrust has found an innovative way to let users get hands on with the new printer from anywhere.

The virtual app enable users to place the card printer on their own desk or tabletop, spin the printer around 360 degrees, and zoom in for a closer look at the component parts. Users can explore all the features that make the Sigma printer simple, secure, and smart. The virtual reality app also enables users to add multi-hopper, laminator, and tactile impression modules, as well as provides links to all relevant PDF brochures and other printer resources.

The virtual reality app is available now for free download on both the Google Play and App Store.

The Sigma printer is Entrust's vision for next generation of direct-to-card printing for both ID and financial card instant issuance. The printer is designed for modern cloud environments, while retaining the same ease of use as previous models. Entrust insists that a card operation can be issuing credentials or mobile flash passes within minutes of unboxing the printer. Adding to the ease of use, the Sigma printer can be fully managed through Entrust's intuitive dashboard.

Entrust has also included its issuance security architecture with Sigma to keep cards and customer data safe and secure throughout each step of the issuance process. The virtual reality tour of the Sigma printer will also provide information about the benefits of Entrust's Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Module, encryption and additional security features.

In this episode of CR80Chats, we talk with Tyler Webb, regional campus manager at ASSA ABLOY, to discuss moving campus services from the card to the mobile device.

With campuses across the country coming to the table on mobile solutions this year, in particular, we pose the question: Have we arrived at a tipping point where services previously tied to the one card are now ready to be moved into the mobile realm? Listen in as we talk through the reasons for or against shifting card services to the mobile device.

TouchNet's Micah Tremain discusses measures and solutions that universities can deploy to move to a more contactless campus dining environment in this video presentation. Contactless solutions have taken on new importance this past year, and with new protocols and guidelines being implemented to limit physical contact between students, the solutions outlined in this video will be great additions.

Tremain, Manager, Product Management at TouchNet, covers key solutions for campus dining including mobile ordering, virtual queuing, and cashless payments. The goal is to identify steps that universities can leverage now to help keep in line with social distancing and other health and safety protocols. To view the video, click the image atop this page or the following link: contactless campus dining.

For more on TouchNet's suite of contactless solutions, visit the company's website.

The National Association of Campus Card Users (NACCU) is now accepting presentation proposals for sessions at the 2021 NACCU Annual Conference. The 2021 Conference will be a little different than previous years, as the event will be moved to a virtual format for the first time.

Proposals can be submitted for a wide range of topics and for a number of different session formats. Presentation proposals are due by Wednesday, January 20, 2021, and each presenter must be a NACCU member, institutional or corporate.

Submit your proposal here.

The move to a virtual event comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will expand the content on offer to attendees. NACCU is also opening attendance to members of university staff that previously may not have attended the Conference. Entire card office staffs and even those working in other areas on campus will be able to attend the 2021 NACCU Annual Conference online.

Prospective presenters are welcome to reach out to others on their campus whose expertise may impact the card industry, and invite them to collaborate on the session. This is the year to bring in any experts or thought leaders that have contributed to card system success, and share their knowledge with your NACCU peers.

Proposals can be submitted for the following formats:

The Seos platform from HID Global is one of the premier credential technology options available to universities. It combines advanced encryption, high reliability and fast operation, and as a software-based credential technology, Seos is independent of underlying hardware. This offers form-factor flexibility, supporting use on mobile devices, smart cards, wearables, tags and more.

Seos can be leveraged for a wide range of applications beyond physical access control, including secure printing, cashless vending, parking management and secure network login.

For most campuses considering a move from older ID technologies to a more secure credential, the contactless smart card is the obvious choice. For both higher education and other markets, the choice has coalesced around a small number of options.

“In the real world we’re only talking about a few technologies in this space,” says Tim Nyblom, End User Business Manager for Higher Education, Physical Access Control at HID Global. “HID’s Seos and MIFARE DESFire are the main credential options in this race.”

When a campus selects and invests in a solution using Seos or DESFire credentials, they are making a commitment that is important to understand.

Open solutions are top-of-mind for security professionals. They want to know they’re getting the best options and flexibility for their investment both today, and far into the future. HID has made a point to provide this openness that modern security professionals demand.

“Our strategy involves offering flexibility in a way that enables campuses to upgrade technologies in the future using the readers they’ve already installed.”

In addition to its Seos solution, HID also offers the SIO (Secure Identity Object) data model on DESFire cards for leading security and privacy protection.

For mobile deployments, customers can choose between BLE and NFC to meet their needs and vision of the future. HID further extends its focus on openness for the higher education space with an Apple Wallet option.

Finally, the value of openness is underpinned by the dependability of the provider. HID has been a leader in the access control space globally for many years.

“Our stance at HID is really about offering the most choice and the most flexibility,” says  Nyblom. “Out of the box, you can hang one of our Signo Readers on the wall and it will support a huge range of technologies including Seos, DESFire, and a variety of other legacy technologies if the campus is still using those.”

“This variety is not just limited to the credential technologies themselves but also the means to communicate them via mobile devices, with support for both Near Field Communication and Bluetooth,” he adds. “Our strategy involves offering flexibility in a way that enables campuses to upgrade technologies in the future using the readers they’ve already installed.”

Building an advanced credential environment

Choosing a credential technology can be a sensitive decision for universities. Often the decision between technologies like Seos and DESFire comes down to manufacturers, existing campus partners, or third-party vendors that have ties to a certain technology.

When it comes to credentials, the stance from HID is that Seos and DESFire are both great solutions, and the company provides both options to its clients.

“When Seos and DESFire are being discussed for security and credential upgrade paths, clients often don’t know HID supports both options,” says Nyblom. “If our campus client wants DESFire, then HID fully supports that. HID designs, builds and sells more DESFire cards for physical access control than almost any other card manufacturer.”

Still, he explains there are advantages to opting for Seos.

“With Seos, you’re not tied to a chip or silicon manufacturer. Since it’s a software-based application, you can put Seos on a card, a phone, or a wearable,” says Nyblom. “Looking forward, when you talk about DESFire or NXP, that’s chip-based. You need a chip in a card and a reader to communicate in a specific manner.”

"Seos isn’t a niche, proprietary solution. It’s sufficiently strong, private, and fits into the Apple ecosystem and Apple Wallet without modification."

That distinction is one that Luc Merredew, Product Marketing Director, Physical Access Control at HID Global, believes will be important in the years to come.

“When you have a chip-based solution, you’re going to tend to be restrained by that. You may or may not be in a position to do mobile, for example,” says Merredew. “Seos is completely the same implementation on a card as it is on a mobile device. There’s not a separate version of Seos that goes on the phone, it’s all the same.”

As Merredew explains, an NFC read on a physical Seos card reads and interacts in the exactly the same way as a Seos mobile credential.

“Seos isn’t a niche, proprietary solution,” Merredew says. “It’s sufficiently strong, private and is well-designed to the extent that it fits into the Apple ecosystem and Apple Wallet without modification.”

Seos on campus

For individual institutions, future solutions and credentials need to ‘play nice’ with the other systems deployed on the campus.

Seos boasts all the necessary factors for meeting both current and future needs for transaction and access control providers on a college campus.

“Institutions typically roll out Seos in a card form factor and, in a growing number of cases, also offer the Seos mobile credential,” Nyblom says. “These campuses typically deploy HID physical access control readers and HID OMNIKEY readers for point of sale and privilege control environments.”

Nyblom says HID has something to offer every campus. “We believe our Seos credential offers the best path with our commitment to innovation and choice, but we are open when it comes to making the best selection for our customers, and that means we support DESFire as well,” he says. “Our readers work with virtually any of a campus’ existing ID technology and provide that same strong path to the future.”

Next steps for Seos

Every university likely has a rough idea of where its credentialing ecosystem is headed. At the very least, universities need to be considering what’s coming over the next 5-plus year period.

“Technology changes, and HID’s aim for Seos, is to offer the flexibility to be used on different things that come down the road, without being tied to specific chips,” says Merredew.

He offers the example of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. Access control systems using this new technology can recognize and authenticate a user as they approach the door. There is no need for the user to present the credential as the system finds it automatically.

"We’re protocol, device and operating-system agnostic. That gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility both now and in the future."

“There’s no doubt that UWB will be prioritized going forward,” says Merredew. “It might not be something you need to plan for in 2020, but I wouldn’t want to choose a solution that didn’t have it in its future road map.

Merredew points to the FiRa Consortium – an initiative that HID is spearheading alongside fellow sponsor members Samsung, Bosch and NXP -- as an example of the application of the UWB standard.

Crystal-ball predictions aside, there is a clear intent from HID going forward. “We’re protocol, device and operating-system agnostic,” says Merredew. “That gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility both now and in the future.”

HID Global's End User Business Manager for Higher Education and PACS, Tim Nyblom, looks to the year ahead and what trends in campus transaction systems and university security may be coming in 2021 and beyond. Topping the list are mobile credential initiatives, and perhaps in the near term, remote badging deployments.

We discuss the factors from this unique year that are leading more campuses to consider remote badging and mobile credentials. Crucially, we also cover some considerations that campuses should interact with to prep for these types of solutions.

If you're interested in seeing more CR80Chats, please reach out to offer your ideas for topics or voices you'd like to hear from. Send an email to [email protected], or use the "Submit a tip" form on the CR80News Homepage.

Integrated payment and credential software solution company, Transact Campus, will establish its new digital campus project in Limerick, Ireland. The move will create 110 new jobs in Limerick City Centre, and will serve as the company’s international headquarters with responsibility for shaping and developing the company’s portfolio of products and services.

The project is supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland. Transact plans to invest in multiple core work streams that will exploit de-coupled micro-service architectures, cloud-based data analytics, CQRS patterns, asynchronous event-based integration models, data streaming, data lakes, and AI-linked analysis.

“It is with great excitement and appreciation that Transact announces our establishment of a new Technology Innovation Centre in Limerick, Ireland, representing the final and critical component of our global vision and strategy," says David Marr, CEO of Transact Campus Inc. "We are humbled to be so warmly welcomed into the Limerick community and we thank the IDA for their meaningful partnership -- without them, none of this would be possible."

“As a company, Transact is relentless in its pursuit to empower our clients with innovative products, enabling them in making a meaningful difference in the lives of the students they serve," adds Marr. "We will continue to accomplish this through the creation of highly skilled and collaborative teams that feel a strong sense of ownership and passion for what they create.”

Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Transact serves more than 1,300 educational institutions that serve some 12 million students and facilitate more than $46 billion in annual education-related payments. Transact’s software services include tuition and fee bill presentment and payment, student payment plans, open- and closed-loop student credential-based point-of-sale transactions for both on and off-campus, as well as ensuring secure authorized access to campus facilities and events.

“This is really welcome news for the Mid West region where a strong financial services cluster has developed in recent years," says Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment. "This announcement is further evidence of Ireland’s ability to attract investments like this, thanks to the availability of a highly skilled and talented workforce.”

The open roles available with Transact are in the areas of Product Managers, Architects, Scrum Masters, UX Designers, Front End Developers, Back End Developers, iOS and Android Developers, DevOps Engineers, Software, Development Engineers in Test, and Data Scientists.

“Winning this investment for Limerick further raises the profile of the Mid West region as an attractive location for financial services," says Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland. "This announcement is aligned to IDA Ireland’s strategy to win highly skilled roles for regional locations, and the Ireland for Finance strategy which focuses on increasing financial services investment in the regions."

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