Southern Connecticut State University has deployed robot delivery from Kiwibot on its New Haven, Conn. campus. The university has deployed a fleet of 15 robots, operating between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. daily.
According to an official university release, placing an order for robot delivery will be done through Sodexo’s mobile app, Everyday. A Kiwibot will then pick up the food and deliver it to the selected drop-off location on campus. Students are issued a unique link to track their order, follow the robot’s location in real-time, and open the lid of the robot upon arrival.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to better serve our students and were intrigued when Sodexo introduced the Kiwibots to us,” says Tracy Tyree, vice president for student affairs.
“Having now seen them in action, I couldn’t be more excited to be one of the first public universities in the state to offer robot on-demand food delivery," adds Tyree. "KiwiBots offer convenience when a student, or faculty or staff member, doesn’t have time to run out for something to eat.”
Kiwibot has been adding a number of campus partners this past year thanks in large part to an ongoing partnership with food-service provider, Sodexo.
“We are thrilled to partner with Kiwibot to further advance our offerings on campus through technology and delivery. Our goal is to impact the student experience at every point of service," says Anthony Deluce, general manager from Sodexo. "This collaboration will allow them to save time by having their meals and beverages delivered to more than 30 locations across campus."
As at other campus partners, Kiwibot will have an on-site team that will be available to participate in campus events around SCSU. A Southern Connecticut spokesperson stressed that having Kiwibot as a part of its campus community not only helps students get closer to the world of technology, robotics, and entrepreneurship, but also adds a new layer of convenience to campus dining.
Mobile credential and payment solutions provider, Transact Campus, has updated its International Payments solution for international student payments. The platform that provides transparent payment tracking, rate details, and real-time account balance updates is now able to process disbursements faster following the latest update.
Transact's solution for international students was initially launched in October 2021, and is embedded in the student portal within the Transact platform. Transact International Payments enables students from 162 countries to easily engage with the platform.
The system update, can accept and reconcile with 134 world currencies, as well as provide faster disbursements with no additional cost when added to the ePayment or eMarket modules on the Transact Integrated Payments platform. With this service enhancement, payments are processed directly from the student account portal with no international wire or bank transfer fees.
Since the international platform launched, Transact has signed more than 175 colleges and universities, with the first campuses going live in May 2022.
“Our clients identified the need for a streamlined International Payments solution,” says Nancy Langer, CEO, Transact. “Responding to that client need is the main reason we focused on developing a way to add this feature to our campus payment systems."
Transact International Payments features include:
“The process of adding International Payments to the Transact Integrated Payments platform provided important insight into how students are using it, allowing us to continually enhance the solution,” says Peter Scharnell, Head of Integrated Payments Product Management, Transact. “These enhancements contributed to the development of a robust product that enables seamless international payments, a feature that can even influence a foreign student’s decision to attend a university.”
The growth of the Transact International Payments solution is the latest in a number of recent Transact achievements.
Most recently, Transact Mobile Credential reached a milestone of 120 million contactless mobile wallet transactions by students using the platform. In addition, over 700,000 students have added the NFC-enabled Mobile Credential to their mobile wallet, enabling them to make purchases and securely access dorms and classrooms with a tap of their mobile device.
Additional Transact solutions include Transact IDX, the company's cloud transaction system, and Transact One, an integrated, cloud-native, and mobile-first ecosystem that brings all Transact solutions together under one, integrated platform.
Join Mohawk College, CampusIDNews, NACCU, and TouchNet for a candid conversation detailing how technology can provide automations and efficiencies to support both auxiliary services and budget pressures. Specifically, the webinar will discuss when and why campuses should consider cloud hosted card transaction systems.
The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, November 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET, and will explore the following topics and issues:
Ahead of the webinar event, CampusIDNews chatted with Edward Towle, Manager of the ONE Card, Parking and Printing at Mohawk College.
"The institution had been discussing moving our ONE Card solution to a hosted environment for years," says Towle. "We needed to upgrade our version of the ONE Card software and our internal IT department found that it would require to many College resources to facilitate. This was viewed as the perfect opportunity to move to the hosted environment."
The webinar will discuss the key benefits that Mohawk was able to realize after going to a hosted model. "When we moved to a hosted environment was that it allowed us to upgrade to the most recent version of the ONE Card software, while freeing up college resources to be better utilized elsewhere," says Towle.
When Mohawk College committed to migrating to the hosted environment it became clear that the move would come with a very tight timeline for completion. That's where TouchNet came in.
"TouchNet made themselves available at every step of the way which resulted in the project being competed on time," says Towle.
Hear how Mohawk was able to shift its IT support from campus to TouchNet. "Moving workflow from our IT team to TouchNet continues to free up valuable College resources," says Towle. "This has been increasingly important as internal resources have become even more critical as the College rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic."
For more on how and why to move your card transaction system to a cloud hosted model, tune in for the full webinar with CampusIDNews, NACCU, Mohawk College and TouchNet on November 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Rising costs are putting the pinch on consumers across the country, and the story's no different for campus dining. But the issue is dual-sided with both students and university dining services dealing with their respective challenges.
An editorial in The McGill Tribune is suggesting that rising costs of consumer goods, driven by inflation, has made dining at some on-campus locations cost prohibitive.
The write up states that the price of McGill’s mandatory meal plan has increased by 35.5% over the last five years. Now with the added stress of inflation, some students are feeling an extra pinch when purchasing meals at on-campus dining locations.
McGill’s meal plan costs $6,200 per year and comes with $500 in declining balance funds on the student oneCard. The meal plan is mandatory for all first-year students living in campus residences.
In an email to the McGill Tribune, the university's media relations officer noted that in order to keep up with the effects of rapid inflation, McGill’s food and dining services must operate the same way as any other retail operation.
A statement from McGill university media relations reads, in part:
“McGill Food and Dining Services is a self-financing unit with the mandate to break even at the end of the fiscal year. In addition, it is a mixed model, which means that they run self-operated units as well as units managed by a food provider and as well, some of the retail locations are run by tenants.”
The rising campus dining price at McGill and other universities brings with it a host of concerns for student dining habits, including choosing cheaper, less nutritious options or skipping meals altogether to avoid spending over the odds and stretch their meal plan further.
At Texas State University, the challenge posed by inflation from the dining services perspective is the need to feed a large population amid rising costs.
As reported by The University Star, this fall saw more Texas State freshmen in dining halls than ever before after the university recorded its largest freshman class to date. Serving this larger group has put new pressure on the dining halls.
Similar to McGill, Texas State places requirements on its freshmen, including having to live on campus. Texas State freshmen living on campus are also required to purchase a meal plan that can be used at two dining halls on campus and various on-campus dining locations.
Rising inflation has placed a premium on buying food for Texas State dining.
“Almost every week food and paper prices increases,” said Chin-Hong Chua, resident district manager of Chartwells at Texas State, in a statement to The University Star. “With a lot of shortages, this can cause us to have to settle for different food. Sometimes we are sent chicken tenders instead of chicken breast or foam plates instead of paper, and despite the fact that we don’t normally use these products, we have to adapt to these changes.”
Chua says the budget for the amount of food purchased increases by 20% year on year, but with inflation increased by 8.2% this past September, that 20% increase could become more restrictive for both the amount and quality of food purchased.
“We have to consider inflation when buying food,” Chua said. “We have to account for how the food will be consumed and buy the amount that causes the least waste.”
Students at American University are asking questions about a policy dealing with students being locked out of their dorm rooms. The policy states that those living in on campus residences will be charged an administrative fee of $25 on their third lockout request starting this month.
As reported by student publication, The Eagle, American University's Housing and Residence Life announced new fee in an email to students. Residence Life's email outlined that as of October 6 it had recorded 1,244 lockout requests across all residence halls on campus since just the beginning of the fall 2022 semester.
This addition of a lockout fee is being assessed to “address the high volume of lockout requests and to ensure residential students are proactive with maintaining access to their room and building." Housing and Residence Life officials also wrote that the OneCard -- American's student ID -- is an "integral part of safety and security of all who live in residence halls.”
Prior to the announcement of these policies, students voiced concerns over the lockout system implemented this semester. In the past, students who were locked out of their dorms could pick up a temporary keycard from a desk receptionist in their residence hall and return it immediately after use.
Now, under the lockout policy, the residence hall desk receptionist on duty must notify the AU Police Department’s communications team, who will then dispatch a designated staff member to unlock the resident’s room between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
After 8:00 p.m., a Resident Assistant on duty will be contacted to help students who are locked out. Temporary key cards will still be issued, but the amount of temp cards issued will be limited as compared to the years past.
Desk receptionist job training treats dorm lockouts in a similar fashion as being locked out of an apartment.
One desk receptionist told The Eagle that his colleagues were not properly writing down students’ information when they checked out a temp access card, which led to a number of the cards being either lost or stolen. “Even if we did know it was out, we wouldn’t know where to look for it because it was not jotted down on the website,” the receptionist said.
Student concerns over the policy changes seem to stem, in part, from the need to wait for campus PD to respond.
One residential student who has been locked out of her dorm room twice, stated that on one of the occasions, she had to wait in her nightgown, as she was on her way to shower before a morning class. According to that student, the most frustrating aspect of the new policy was the wait time for a solution because she missed the morning class.
Another student, also locked out in the morning on the way to the showers, reported a wait time of 35 to 40 minutes for the RA on duty to help him, stating that AUPD was busy. “It was really a terrible experience obviously because nobody wants to be locked out just in their towel,” he said.
Each student's third lockout will now carry a $25 fee, as will losing one of the residential temp cards.
The EV revolution is coming to universities – and with it, the need for EV charging on campus. This emerging service could be opening new roles for campus ID card.
College and university officials should begin preparing now for how they will handle the increasing use of electric cars, scooters and bikes by students and even faculty and staff. Decisions made now about how to access and manage EV charging will bring big impacts in the coming years.
That is among the main messages from a recent CampusIDNews interview with two HID Global executives charged with helping ease the transition to electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure requires to support them.
“We have seen more EV usage in the workplace environment, and the education market is also emerging,” says Mohit Khoda, Senior Manager of Product Marketing, Extended Access Technologies at HID Global. “It is still very new so we don’t know how the whole thing will play up. Right now, everyone is testing the waters.”
The EV trend is increasingly well funded and has gained a momentum that seems all but certain to continue. The Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other programs are pumping fresh funding to states for their own EV projects.
Each day seems to bring news of new capital and focus for EV projects, whether $25 million for EV development South Carolina, New York’s proposed ban on gas-fueled automobiles or a Detroit pilot that involves in-road EV charging.
Campuses will not be isolated from these trends – indeed, some colleges and universities already offer EV charging on campus at low or no cost for faculty members. EV charging poses unique on campuses, in part because parking is often limited and charging stations chew up valuable real estate.
HID’s role is to help campuses or their partners operate EV charging systems – and craft ID and access process to ensure only approved users access the system and that, when required, payments are collected.
“It is quite similar to gaining access to smart lockers, or enabling students, teachers and other members of the campus community to buy food and other retail goods via their ID cards and digital credentials,” says Khoda.
As explained by Helmut Dansachmüller, Vice President of Product Marketing and Innovation, Extended Access Technologies at HID Global, campuses face a variety of business models when it comes to accessing EV charging stations.
For instance, universities could operate the service for students and faculty or could work through local utilities to set up a charging infrastructure. Campuses could offer free charging – as some already do – or charge for the use of the stations.
Khoda adds that some or all charging stations “could be public, like a gas station, open to all.”
That may turn out to a popular choice with larger universities.
“Indeed, that is how it’s done at the HID office in Austin, where a couple of charging stations are open to the public while the others are restricted to employees,” says Khoda. “A technology-focused university such as MIT might do it differently than a state school in the Midwest, and small institutions will almost certainly look different than large metropolitan sites.”
In pretty much all cases, however, a campus-based EV charging station infrastructure requires a robust credentialing and ID system.
The general idea, as the HID executives explain, is to place an RFID contactless reader module into the charging device, integrating the solution into the EV power station.
“It has to be integrated so it is protected from the elements,” Dansachmüller says. “The main protection is for wide-ranging temperature fluctuations, though snow also can tax the system and draw more battery power, something HID is prepared for when dealing with campus EV charging stations.”
Similar to the way smart lockers are accessed on campus, the RFID contactless reader provides a secure way to access the charging station without the need for PIN codes or text messages. As well, he adds, the process also enables integrators to use APIs, furthering the potential use of more technology.
“As projects progress, it’s also very likely that EV charging station access will come via smart phones along with cards,” Khoda says.
It’s important to note that the ongoing EV revolution is somewhat complex because of the array of players involved. While HID aims to provide credentials and RFID reader modules to the infrastructure, the stations are owned by a third-party, power is coming from a utility, and another business or campus unit is likely to be in charge of parking-lot management.
But that’s just another reason to get this part of the EV campus infrastructure totally right. If one part fails, the whole system can break down, and then faculty, students and staff members might lose confidence in EV as other campuses do better.
Both Khoda and Dansachmüller agree that campuses must prepare. “The government is supporting this with a lot of incentives,” says Khoda. “And EV is going to be a part of the Gen Z generation.”
For more info on EV charging and how HID Global can provide solutions for your campus, visit HIDGlobal.com.
A student led group of app developers at the University of Pennsylvania has created a mobile app that helps predict when students will run out of meal swipes and dining dollars. The dining analytics feature has been added to the university's official Penn Mobile app with the help of an API provided by the university.
According to a report from student publication, The Pennsylvanian, the meal swipe app has been in development since fall 2019 and was introduced by Penn Labs, a student software development organization. When accessed through the Dining tab of the Penn Mobile app, the Analytics page displays a graph of previous swipe and Dining Dollar usage along with a line predicting when the student will run out of funds based on their recent behavior.
The dining analytics feature relies on an API provided by Penn Dining, which transmits data from Campus Express to Penn Mobile. The API tracks real-time student dining balances and a daily history of swipe and dollar expenditures, according to Barbara Lea-Kruger, Penn Business Services director of communications and external relations.
The student group behind the dining analytics feature say persuading Penn Dining to provide access to the university's API required some effort, including a PowerPoint presentation.
“The school was pretty receptive, but at first, there was a little bit of hesitancy, in terms of, ‘we’re not sure who you guys are, why do you want this data, and what are you doing with it,'” said one of the developers.
The developers also stress that Penn Labs maintains very strict security standards and "can’t see any student’s dining balance information." Part of the pitch to Penn Dining for access to its API was to prove that all student data was anonymized and hashed.
Data analyzed from the beginning and end-of-semester dining balances from fall 2019 showed that there were hundreds of thousands of dollars in unused swipes and Dining Dollars -- an issue the dev team believes is caused by students not budgeting their dining plans. The belief is that by making dining analytics available to students, that sum of unused dining monies could be reduced.
The app still isn't perfect. Among the ongoing troubleshooting is an issue where usage predictions become inaccurate after a student changes their meal plan.
The dining analytics feature is also currently only available on iOS, but the dev team is working on bringing the feature to Android soon. Further refinements to the prediction model could include the ability to distinguish between weekdays, weekends, and school breaks, when swipe and dining dollar usage might be impacted differently.
Campus credential and commerce solution provider, TouchNet, recently outlined a host of reasons universities should pay mind to their declining balance accounts on campus. In the company's "10 Ways Declining Balance Accounts Can Benefit Your Campus," there seems to be a common thread between campuses that have fared well through the last couple years, and healthy declining balance offerings.
More specifically, the institutions who are leading the pack are those that have reimagined the campus experience, eliminated outdated systems and processes, and implemented student-centric solutions. Among the measures campuses have taken, TouchNet says, is a maximizing of declining balance opportunities using the campus card, with the goal of connecting students to more services and resources through their student ID.
TouchNet's benefits of a robust declining balance offering include:
TouchNet sees a clear link between institutions that are doing the campus card right and those that have healthy declining balance options in their cash management infrastructure.
Using the campus card as a closed-loop payment option, which functions like a credit card but without the fees, can make purchasing goods and services easy for students. For parents, this functionality gives them a convenient means to add funds and monitor spending while administrators have complete visibility and oversight of payments campus wide.
For more on declining balance and the campus card, read TouchNet's full write up.
Temple University has a robust off-campus program, bolstered by a partnership with Grubhub, that enables students to use their campus card to pay for orders on the company’s platform. The partnership has taken off since its inception at the start of this academic year, but the groundwork was laid some time ago.
Scott Brannan, Director of the OWLcard Office at Temple University, is a cornerstone to making the Temple-Grubhub partnership tick. He’s seen the mobile ordering phenomenon from its inception and sees no signs of it slowing down.
Temple’s experience with mobile ordering dates back to Tapingo, but the major development for Temple came after a meeting with Grubhub about integrating the university’s Diamond Dollars as a form of payment tender.
To date, Temple students have used Diamond Dollars at more than 200 distinct merchants in the city of Philadelphia and beyond.
“Everyday we get new merchants that I've never heard of in the city of Philadelphia,” says Brannan. “It’s crazy.”
To contextualize that number a bit, it’s important to note that Temple is in the heart of Philadelphia, a major metropolitan city. That type of environment naturally fosters more dining options that the average college town.
“Everyday we get new merchants that I've never heard of in the city of Philadelphia. It’s crazy.”
“We’re getting everything from food trucks, to ramen, to Vietnamese pho, seafood, bagels, and everything in between,” says Brannan. “But that’s all in addition to the big brands like Panera, Chipotle, Applebee's, Sonic, and Wawa. That’s what’s great about Grubhub; it really does offer something for everybody.”
“We’ve seen a rapid rise in orders and sales,” explains Brannan. “I'm hopeful at the end of the year it shows that they've added a lot more money into Diamond Dollars.”
“When we started our pilot with Grubhub in May it was maybe a hundred dollars in daily sales. But by week three of the semester we were already up to several hundreds a day in Grubhub sales, and they've topped a thousand several days,” says Brannan. “We had a huge day for football Sunday; I think we did well over a thousand in sales on gameday.”
Being in North Philadelphia, Brannan explains that a higher level discussion about student safety was held with campus administration. The discussion detailed campus safety zones and discussed how far from campus was too far to send students for an order placed on the platform.
“I didn't want students to be able to go too far away, so we started with just a small pilot group in May prior to full launch,” says Brannan. “We did it by exception and only included certain vendors, and then watched the delivery versus pick up options.”
Brannan initially wanted students to be able to leverage mobile ordering within the safe vicinity of campus, but also have the ability to use their Diamond Dollars and Grubhub mobile ordering when they left the city for spring break or went home for the summer. But that proved to be problematic.
“I couldn't have it both ways,” he recalls. “I couldn't say ‘I only want it within these six blocks, and then the rest of the world’ – it was either you do it or you don't.”
A workaround came in the form of Grubhub delivery.
“With the delivery fee being waived through Grubhub Plus for students with the addition of a campus card, it provided a solution to the safety conversation,” says Brannan. “I can see transactions by day/week/month, the dollar amount, pickup or delivery, and the vendor’s location. I can see that we've had merchants from New York, Virginia, and other parts of Pennsylvania, so it's working.”
Brannan has extensive experience in the campus card industry, and he has virtually seen it all when it comes to off-campus programs.
“I think the early days of mobile ordering with the food-service providers involved may not have been handled quite as well as it could have been because it was all so new,” recalls Brannan. "You’d order for pickup, but you have to go to this specific register or this counter."
"Students are used to mobile ordering now. It was the perfect time for us to jump on this and I think our students get it.”
With experience, the technology and the processes have gotten better. Mobile ordering has also found a strong foothold with students.
“I think it may have been difficult for students to comprehend what we were trying to do in the beginning with mobile ordering, and I think it was hard to execute,” says Brannan. “But now students – particularly through COVID with everybody using Grubhub or others – are used to it now. It was the perfect time for us to jump on this and I think our students get it.”
As always, student expectation is a key driver for evolution in the campus card space. Mobile ordering is no different.
“You have to meet students where they are,” Brannan says. “If it's what they want, then they're going to use it more. If it's something that you keep dictating and they're not buying, then they're just going to think of it as dead on arrival.”
“For programs that have been around a while and need a shot in the arm, consider partnering with a mobile ordering solution provider,” Brannan suggests. “It really can lift your off-campus program right off the map.”
“Grubhub has been a really good partner. They spent a lot of time with us in the beginning to figure out what our needs were,” says Brannan. “I also knew the team from their Tapingo days, so it was easy to have a rapport.”
As for ways to get more out of the partnership, Brannan highlights some added benefits of a partnership with Grubhub.
“Students are going to use it, and with Grubhub it’s really not a lot of effort on my part. The mantra becomes: ‘Why not?’ This is what a modern off-campus program looks like now.”
“There’s a marketing person assigned to Temple and she's great because I still don't use social media to push our program as much as I’d like,” he explains. “It is ideal for me because I'm just too busy with my normal workflow.”
Ultimately, the move to mobile ordering is becoming nearly unavoidable as a dovetail to campus dining.
“Students are going to use it, and with Grubhub it’s really not a lot of effort on my part, so why not do it?” says Brannan. “That becomes the mantra: ‘Why not?’ This is what a modern off-campus program looks like now.”
In a recent entry to NACCU's Positive IDentity Blog, Sara Featherlin, Assistant Director of the ID Center at the University of Illinois System, discusses the importance of having a variety of personalities in the card office. Specifically, she highlights the value of having both specialists, and "multipotentialites."
As Featherlin writes, a multipotentialite is one who, “when provided with appropriate environments, can select and develop a number of competencies to a high level.” This is the opposite of a specialist who is like the person who knew from a young age.
"Were you one of those types who knew your entire life what you wanted to do, had a completed plan with all of the goals you would need to accomplish in order to succeed, and then made those dreams and goals come true," posits Featherlin. "Not me. And for a long time, it bothered me."
As she applies this ides to the card office environment, Featherlin suggests having a combination of multipotentialites and specialists can offer several benefits. "The biggest benefit in my opinion is the well-rounded wealth of knowledge," she says. "Well-rounded knowledge provides more well-rounded thinking and answers. Well-rounded answers lead to well-rounded solutions for your office."
Featherlin uses the example of office work flow software issues. "It just doesn’t do what you need for your office," she writes. "Your IT specialist may suggest a strategy to purchase different software, which would solve the IT problem."
"A multipotentialite, on the other hand, could see that same problem through a flow-of-business perspective and suggest that you could keep the software if the work was divided into a different manner which would be more productive."
As with any healthy working environment, the card office thrives when it best utilizes the knowledge of all personality types that contribute to its work flow strategy. "Maybe even with new software as well, using the strengths of both of those thinkers. It could revolutionize your card office!"
Featherlin suggests striking a balance between the specialist and the multipotentialite. The latter, she writes, can sometimes be perceived as flighty or distracted. But in reality their type of thinking offsets and even compliments the more laser focused thinking of specialists.
"Variety of thinking can lead to any business, especially card offices, to flourish. Plus, who doesn’t love a co-worker who helps you see things differently, whether it is in a more focused or a more broad fashion," says Featherlin. "It is definitely better to have people who think outside a traditional box so your office can stay fresh!"
See Sara Featherlin's full write up on the NACCU Positive IDentity Blog.