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Kent State University’s Flash Bistro is a grab-and go store that offers snacks and light meals.

These days, the meals seem even lighter as students enter the store, pick up their food, and exit without interacting with a cashier or self-checkout device.

With the help of Kent State’s transaction system provider, CBORD, students to present their campus card – the FLASHcard – at the entry gate. If the card is accepted, the barrier bar raises allowing entrance to the bistro.

Once inside, the student makes their selections while a series of cameras and sensors track the purchases.

Unlike many autonomous stores that utilize a QR code or dedicated app for entry, Kent State uses their existing campus ID cards for entry and payment.

As they exit the store, the charge is automatically billed to their campus funds or declining balance account. An itemized receipt is sent via email following the transaction.

Limiting personnel required to operate the facility, enabled dining services to greatly expand the hours of operations.

“Our Flash Bistro will more than double our current weekly operating hours, opening early in the morning, much later in the evening, and even on weekends, when we are currently closed,” says Jacob Kuehn, Kent State’s senior director of culinary services.

Kent State University's FLASHcard

In an KentWired article, Laura Roach, Housing and Culinary Services Associate Director says, “in addition to the anticipated new variety of snacks and beverages, the store will also be open on Sundays, and its hours of operation will be from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.”

“It will be exciting for students to enter the space anytime the building is open for business,” she adds.

Unlike many autonomous stores that utilize a QR code or dedicated app for entry, Kent State uses their existing campus ID cards for entry and payment.

CBORD's GET platform processes transactions and serves as the hub for viewing receipts, transaction history, managing funds and receiving push notifications for entry and exit.

“This integration underscores CBORD's commitment to innovation and providing seamless solutions that enhance campus life,” says Dan Park, CBORD’s president and chief executive officer.

Beyond extending hours for students, Kuehn says the change will also expand dining option for people attending events, lectures, and activities.

Visiting a company’s booth on an exhibit hall floor is often informative, but it is not alway funny or entertaining. But when the tour is led by two of the security industry’s social media leaders, it can be both. In this video from ISC West, Phil Coppola, HID’s Mobile Evangelist, tours the Assa Abloy booth with Benji Bolick, Assa’s Senior Digital Communications Specialist.

Both guys have large social media followings thanks in part to their knowledge of the security industry, but also to their delivery of technical information in an engaging style.

Wifi locks wake up periodically to send aggregated info to the central system. Wireless locks, on the other hand, communicate back and forth in realtime via an over-the-air connection to a nearby wired hub.

The tour takes you from station to station, demo-ing readers for a variety of interior and exterior doors, lockers, cabinets, padlocks and other unique use cases.

They explain different lock technology options including power of ethernet (PoE), wifi locks, and wireless locks that do not use wifi.

It is a good primer of the benefits and limitations of each technology. As you will see, there is a time and place for each technology, and most campuses are best served by a mix.

In one segment, there is an interesting discussion about the differences between wifi and wireless locks and the manner in which each communicate back to the central security system.

Wifi locks wake up periodically to send aggregated access information and receive updates and card revocation details to the central system. Wireless locks, on the other hand, communicate back and forth in realtime via an over-the-air connection to a nearby wired hub.

As they educate the viewer about the different technology options, they discuss and demonstrate Assa Abloy and HID readers that fill each category.

A solid overview of the technical architecture of the Aperio lock line, commonly used on college and university campuses, is presented.

It details how multiple wireless locks – typically eight to 16 individual units – talk to a local hub located within a range of roughly 100 feet. The hub is wired back to a panel and the central security system, enabling realtime communication and even centrally-initiated lockdowns.

Though booth tour videos often lean toward the boring realm, this one is really worth the time. It provides great information and will even make you smile.

For campus-specific inquiries, you can reach out to Tyler Webb, Assa Abloy's Director of Electronic Access Control Sales for the campus market, at [email protected].

Check out the video by clicking the image at the top of this page.

New technology at the Tiger Express convenience store at Towson University let's students walk in, grab products, and walk out without interacting with a employee or using self-checkout. In this CampusIDNews Chat, we get the lowdown from Myron Esterson, IT Manager, Auxiliary Services at Towson and David McQuillin, Vice President of Sales and Atrium Co-Founder.


TRANSCRIPT:

I'm Myron Esterson, Towson University and I am Dave McQuillin, Atrium Campus.

Esterson: So Towson students had an issue, they were unable to find late night food options on campus. Most of our places closed down at 9 o'clock, and knowing students, they get munchies at all hours of the night.

We decided we really wanted a store that would be open 24-7, minimal staffing, and we signed a new contract for Dining Services back in July 2023 with Aramark Hospitality as part of the contract. They said, we'll give you a store 24-7, it can fit into your existing location, and the rest of that's history.

Students love it, most of them think that they're stealing product, because they don't realize that when they're scanning and walking in the store, they're actually paying for it at that point.

McQuillin: Atrium was involved in getting the store live by providing a tablet-based solution that allowed the Towson OneCard to be used to authenticate into the store for cardholders.

There was a need to provide the ability to support or to select from two different tenders, a taxable and a non-taxable declining balance, dock dollars and dining dollars. So we built that application in partnership with Towson and Aramark, and it's worked great.

Towson's been a great long-term client of Atrium.

We really started with them with our Atrium Connect product at the time that they had, it was called StudentLink, that was the online account management portal, and then they went out to RFP for a new OneCard. We were privileged to win that, and we have been their OneCard provider ever since.

We've collaborated on a number of enhancements over the years to make the student and admin experience better at Towson and improve the Atrium solution really for all clients. So it was just natural that we would also partner with them on this checkout-free store, which is the first store Atrium has opened in higher ed.

Esterson: Students love it, most of them think that they're stealing product, because they don't realize that when they're actually scanning and walking in the store, they're actually paying for it at that point.

They know they can pick something up off the shelf, walk out, and they go, I think I just stole something, when in reality they haven't.

So they really do love it, they love the fact that they don't have to, they're no long lines, they don't have to talk to cashiers that may or may not have attitude, so they're really happy about that.

The user experience actually starts when they first walk up to the store itself, in order to get in either have to swipe their campus card, or they can swipe a credit card, or if you have admin privileges, there's actually a QR reader that you have a QR code you can get in for maintenance more.

While you walk around the store, there are 31 cameras that are watching you. It creates a virtual shopping cart, but it does not know who you are, so there are no privacy concerns.

So what happens is when the student swipes their campus card into the Android tablet, first thing it does is it goes out to Atrium and says, what are my balance in my two accounts? It comes back, and if there's less than $2 on either account, it's grayed out and will not let you in.

Assuming you do have value, you click the, you press the button and it sends a message to the turnstiles, it'll let you in.

Same with the credit card, you have a $25 credit authorization amount, if that's what you choose, again, it'll send a message to the turnstile and they'll open it and let you in.

While you walk around the store, there are 31 cameras that are watching you, they are tracking your every move. It creates a virtual shopping cart for you, but it does not know who you are. It does not know any information about you, so there are no privacy concerns there.

Pick up the items you want, put down the items you don't want, as soon as you walk out, it will finalize your shopping cart and you will receive, it will bill you at that point and then you will receive a receipt.

If we're comparing year over year, in the past, when the store was open, limited hours, students would really spend most of their time there on Thursday nights, we were on a weekly meal plan, so they would dump most of the meals in the store. We were accepting through the cashiers, credit cards, campus cards, cash, and meal dumps and what we've found since we've migrated over to the new Zippin product, we're only allowing campus cards and credit cards at this point, our sales are considerably higher and we're much happier about that.

There's no cash, there's no meal dumps, so at this point in time, 99% of the work is really following an Aramark, they're responsible for making sure the shelves are stocked properly, they're making sure that the store is clean, my responsibility is making sure that the Atrium tablets are connecting back to Atrium, making sure that students can use their campus cards to get in.

McQuillin: One of the enhancements we've done since the store opened was to make the Atrium tablet fully accessible, so that those with disabilities can have a proper experience when they enter the store, and that was rolled out in early January and is now live at the store.

Esterson:  They plug their headphones into the audio cable that's provided to them, the system actually speaks to them, so it will tell them what their balances are, it will tell them exactly what they have to do when they enter the store.

 

To view the video, click the image at the top of this page.

 

Students at Williams College in Massachusetts were getting hangry as the theft of their mobile orders from dining services seemed to be on the rise. The student newspaper covered the story and went a step further, conducting a survey to measure just how widespread the problem really was.

Some call it the dirty little secret of mobile ordering. Others call it a sign of the times. Whatever you call it, stolen food orders on campus are more prevalent than many would like to believe.

A quick google search brings up dozens of articles from student newspapers across the country, each highlighting the problem on their campus. Loyola Marymount, Penn State, Case Western, John Carroll, and many others are first page results. But is is certainly not limited to the campuses where the local news sources have covered the issue.

To be clear, it is not an issue with mobile ordering technology. It is an issue with human behavior. Still campus dining and auxiliary service leaders need to plan for it and create barriers to make it more difficult.

To add numbers to the qualitative reports, the paper’s staff sent a survey to a group of randomly selected students. More than 70% of respondents said they’d had an order stolen this year.

Across the country, it is common for mobile food orders to be marked with the students name and placed in a designated pickup location with other orders. Upon arrival, the student grabs their food and heads out the door. Often there is little or no staff interaction or monitoring of the pickup process. This makes it easy for a thief to lift a meal and go.

The Williams Record article detailed the situation and the survey they conducted.

At Williams College, students use the mobile ordering system to place orders at all times of day – from breakfast to late night – and from multiple dining facilities, snack bars, and cafes. Students interviewed for the article cited theft from all locations and at all times of day.

In an attempt to add numbers to the qualitative reports, the paper’s staff sent a survey to 500 randomly selected students. Of the 84 respondents, more than 70% said they’d had an order stolen this year.

Because the survey was anonymous, nearly 13% fessed up to stealing at least one order in the same period.

Lunch was the most common time for meal theft with more than 55% percent of respondents reporting midday incidents. Dinner was second at just more than 20%.

Obviously the research is not statistically valid. Students who had experienced meal theft would certainly be more likely to submit a response. But even in the unlikely circumstance that  zero of the non-responders experienced theft, that would still leave more than one in ten students as victims.

And the theft of a meal doesn’t just impact the one student.

“When someone steals an order, dining staff will remake the meal, which can be a hassle during busy periods,” says the Record article.

Each approach to address the issue has pros and cons, and each comes with a cost. They also add complexity to a process that, at its core, is intended to streamline operations and remove friction from dining process.

This costs dining services money, and the additional order can take precedent over others in the queue, leading to longer wait times for other diners.

Campuses are addressing the issue in a series of ways.

Approaches range from assigning a staff member to supervise the pickup area or physically pass the order to the customer on arrival, deploying security cameras to monitor the pickup locations, and installing lockers to secure orders until a code or campus card is used to retrieve the food.

Each of these approaches has pros and cons, and each comes with a cost. They also add complexity to a process that, at its core, is intended to streamline operations and remove friction from dining process.

Unfortunately, they are necessary.

As stated prior, the problem lies not with mobile ordering technology, but with bad actors and unsupervised locations. Because changing human behavior is beyond our control, we are left to create barriers and adjust our processes.

Penn State’s student run news source, the Daily Collegian, published an in-depth list of student resources that could serve as a model for a campus directory of services – from mental health to food insecurity and more.

As card program and auxiliary service professionals, we talk regularly about adding mental health contact information to our student IDs. Static phone numbers and even the service providers that operate them, however, can change, leading to outdated information.

This Penn State list is a reminder that a readily-available online directory should be a part of any efforts to help students struggling with issues on campus. Mental health, food insecurity, and financial pressures each negatively impact a student’s ability to succeed, and they are often intertwined.

A phone number on the campus card may be the quickest route to deliver emergency services such as suicide prevention line numbers, but a printed URL linking to a master services directory should also be considered.

The directory is a deliverable from a larger project entitled Pockets empty, dreams full — at Penn State.

Though the project, the Daily Collegian and other student journalists explored how “financial insecurity can reshape the Happy Valley experience in profound ways.”

Rather than listing a single food pantry or other option, the lists are comprehensive. For food assistance, ten separate options are identified to help students in need.

But it doesn’t stop at food insecurity.

There are seven services available to Penn State students in need of housing assistance, five services offering transportation assistance, and eight options for other financial assistance offerings. A wide range of miscellaneous services are also highlighted such as a source for students needing to borrow professional attire for job interviews, another offering free legal and notary services, and more.

Unlike a static phone number printed on an ID card, an online directory can be updated at any point as services change or new offerings are added.

A phone number may be the quickest – and thus the ideal – route to deliver emergency services such as suicide prevention line numbers, but a printed URL linking to a master services directory should also be considered.

That single additional line of data on the back of a student ID card, could reenforce with students that the institution cares about them as individuals. And crucially, it would be an always at hand reminder that assistance is often just a click away.

Colorado State University held an online panel discussion to introduce various constituencies throughout the campus community to mobile credentials. As the campus and CSU system consider a future that could include mobile credentials, the university’s Division of IT brought together a group of industry leaders from three leading institutions.

The University of Alabama, Temple University, and Arizona State University joined the presentation to talk about their experience migrating from cards to mobile IDs.

We imagined there would be interest in this topic, but I was surprised when more than 145 colleagues joined in to learn about mobile ID.

Panelists shared insights about their experience and explored the potential benefits of using this technology at Colorado State University.

According to organizers, “participants gained a broad-based understanding of how the technology is being utilized across higher education, including the infrastructure requirements necessary to successfully support this technology.”

“We imagined there would be interest in this topic, but I was surprised when more than 145 colleagues joined in to learn about mobile ID,” says RamCard Director Neal Lujan.

Panelists included:

“I look forward to our next step as we continue to assess interests and needs to determine when Colorado State University might be ready to define a project plan for a mobile ID implementation,” says Lujan.

 

View the recorded video session

 

The campus card industry awards are always a highlight of the NACCU Annual Conference, and this year’s program was no exception. At last week’s event, six institutions and individuals were recognized for contributions to their campuses, the industry, and the association.

Attendees always look forward to the best card design and best video awards as they showcase the creative ways card offices market their programs and drive student demand.

University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus cardNACCU 2024 Best Card Design Award

The best card design is voted on by the NACCU membership, so it is truly a group decision. This year’s best card design went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. According to NACCU, “voters are asked to consider the visual impact, creativity and representation of the institution when judging the card designs.” The new HawkCard meets all the criteria.

READ MORE

NACCU 2024 Best Video Award

If you think you’ve seen a great student-produced promotional video, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Liberty University raised the bar with a fun, funny, and informative video that brought to life the ID program’s new Mobile Flames Pass. Deb Nightingale, Director, ID & Campus Services, accepted the award on behalf of her team. Click the image at the top of this page to check out the video.

NACCU 2024 Innovative Technology Award

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created Rokwire, a free open-source mobile app platform, to consolidate multiple data streams and systems into one app for students and staff. The goal was to deliver a single app rather than requiring the campus community to use a series of application-specific apps.

Today, they are making Rokwire available at no cost to universities and other organizations. According to the NACCU announcement of the award, it enables institutions “to create a comprehensive campus app that includes services such as virtual ID cards, mobile credentials, dining locations and menus, campus events, bus schedules, class schedules, campus wayfinding, and access to wellness resources.”

READ MORE

NACCU 2024 New Professional Award

Markus Quon, UC Irvine’s Manager of Housing IT, was recognized with this year’s award. The New Professional Award recognizes an individual with five or fewer years in the campus ID profession who has made significant contributions to their institution, the industry and to the association.

According the NACCU, “Markus was crucial in deciding which technology platform would best serve his campus and created a roadmap for Student Housing to consolidate around a standard that would be secure but flexible enough in the future to allow for mobile.”

READ MORE

NACCU 2024 Distinguished Service Award

John Ealy, Director, i-card Programs & Merchant Card Services at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was honored for his ongoing, active service to his industry.

“John created an Illinois state carding group which still runs today,” says the NACCU announcement. “He is one of the original founders of the ID office at his campus, and continuously seeks new and creative ways to fund his department, including opening an additional ID office to his purview this coming year.”

READ MORE

NACCU 2024 Outstanding Volunteer Award

University of Southern California’s Nicole Kerns received the award that is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary volunteer service to the mission and work of NACCU.

She is an active advocate of NACCU, participating in conferences, webinars, Women in Credential Leadership, NACCU Near You, the Industry Essentials Institute. She was also chair of the Professional Development Committee.

READ MORE

Transact campuses have a new fully-integrated option for sustainable dining. By integrating with USEFULL, a provider of sustainable takeout containers, students can checkout and return containers using their Transact campus cards or mobile credentials.

While most reusable takeout solutions rely on plastic containers, USEFULL provides a plastic-free solution using stainless steel containers.

USEFULL reports that over 99% of their containers are returned. Stainless steel has a perceived value and stands out visually among other household items, so the containers are less likely to be discarded.

To use the solution, students download the USEFULL app for iOS or Android. The app is integrated with the institutions’ Transact system, making the sign-up process seamless.

To check out a container the student scans its unique QR code. The app shows what containers need to be returned and indicates late fees and other notifications. It also displays a measure of the student’s positive environmental impact as well as the campus wide reductions in waste, emissions, and water usage.

Across its campus installations, USEFULL reports that over 99% of their containers are returned. They attribute this to a "fair and friendly return policy that incentivizes behavior - just like a library book.”

Stainless steel has a perceived value and stands out visually among other household items, so the containers are less likely to be mistaken for trash and discarded.

The company admits that stainless steel is more expensive than other reusable container options, compostables, or single use plastics, but they say reuse longevity changes the ROI. USEFULL containers last at least 3 years in circulation before they need to be recycled and replaced.

“(With this partnership), we are not only simplifying the student experience but also making a meaningful impact on our environment,” says Chris Setcos, SVP of partnerships and M&A at Transact. “It underscores Transact's commitment to supporting our campus partners in achieving their sustainability goals.”

According to USEFULL, benefits of their solution include:

“Students can now easily track their takeout returns through their student cards,” says Alison Rogers Cove, CEO and founder of USEFULL. “It is another step toward both building awareness of our carbon footprint while educating and informing this mission-driven generation of students about their individual contributions to eliminating waste.”

The offering is now available at Transact campuses across the country.

In this episode of the CampusIDNews Chat series, we talk with Jennifer Paiotti, Associate Director, Business Operations, Auxiliary services, at Xavier University. At the 2024 NACCU Annual Conference, she will share her campus ID program, its ties to other auxiliary enterprises, and how they are moving to mobile-only with their campus credentials. Whether you are attending the tour not, listen in to learn about the Xavier program.

Check out the video interview by clicking the image at the top of this page.

The back of University of South Florida’s ID card provides several phone numbers for students in crisis or seeking safety services. Many campus cards contain similar resources, but what happens when this information changes. How do you deal with incorrect contact info for essential services?

The USF card prominently lists contact numbers for the victim hotline, counseling center, campus police department, and a campus security escort service.

With the phone number change, nearly 50,000 students are left with ID cards referring them to a number that no longer exists.

When the card was redesigned in 2020, the numbers were added.

A Facebook post from the USF Student Government announced the change, saying “We are pleased to announce the release of USF’s new student ID cards! We’ve placed essential hotline numbers and other important contacts on the ID cards of all three campuses!”

According to an article in USF’s student-run newspaper, all was fine until a campus phone system upgrade forced a change to one of the numbers.

The escort service, known as SAFE Team, is operated by student government in partnership with campus police. Between 6 pm and 2 am, it provides escorts on foot or in golf carts to help students that feel unsafe walking alone.

The service was only a phone call away.

With the phone number change, however, nearly 50,000 students are left with ID cards referring them to a number that no longer exists.

This is certainly not the only time this has happened. Crisis line numbers can change and services can cease operations.

University of Minnesota diligently evaluates crisis line inclusion

In a recent webinar, Nick Mabee, U Card Office marketing manager at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, discussed his office’s journey to add mental health resources to the back of the ID card.

The team went through at least four revisions, swapping different crisis lines in and out as they felt pressure from on-campus groups as well as pending state and federal legislation.

At one point, they had the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the campus Crisis Line.

But before the design was finalized, Mabee says, “there was controversy about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and their approach to privacy, so we had quite a few offices on our campus that were concerned.”

The next draft removed the national line and featured only the campus line.

From the beginning, however, a goal was to meet requirements of pending state and federal legislation that, if passed, would mandate inclusion of mental health resources on student IDs.

If we list our card’s basic services – vending, laundry, access, etc. – and one of them changes, it is not a big deal. But the same can not be said for crisis lines or essential services like USF’s SAFE Team.

This led the team to add back the national line to meet potential federal requirements and include county lines that were part of the Minnesota bill.

University of Minnesota student ID card

Old card back and new design with mental health resources

With a shortage of space on the card back and a wealth of uncertainty about the future of the legislation, the final design eliminated the county lines and featured only the national and campus crisis numbers.

While Minnesota’s U Card does not contain any incorrect numbers, Mabee’s experience shows the challenges of this process.

There will always be uncertainty when the ink hits the card.

If there is a lesson to be learned from these examples, it is that card offices and campus administrators should put careful thought into any information that is added to the ID.

This is especially true of life safety information.

If we list our card’s basic services – vending, laundry, access, etc. – and one of them changes, it is not a big deal. But the same can not be said for crisis lines or essential services like USF’s SAFE Team.

In most cases, it is not practical or realistic to reissue every student ID if a phone number changes. So all we can do is make sure any info we include is truly necessary, unlikely to change, and fully vetted.

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Attn: friends in the biometrics space. Nominations close Friday for the annual Women in Biometrics Awards. Take five minutes to recognize a colleague or even yourself. http://WomenInBiometrics.com

Feb. 1 webinar explores how mobile ordering enhanced campus life, increased sales at UVA and Central Washington @Grubhub @CBORD

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