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Building your own mobile ID infrastructure

ColorID discusses the options available to campuses
David Stallsmith, Director of Product Management, ColorID

The prevailing thought, when it comes to mobile ID, is that a university has to purchase a complete solution from a single provider. But identity solutions vendor, ColorID, is championing a different perspective for how campuses can make the move to mobile.

From ColorID’s point of view, there’s a lot to take into consideration between the day a campus decides to pursue mobile and launch day. Looking at each of these factors, ColorID hopes to offer an alternative to universities interested in issuing mobile IDs to students.

ColorID spends considerable time on the road and in web presentations speaking with campus card professionals from universities of all sizes. One of the common threads across these conversations is mobile ID.

CR80News recently spoke with David Stallsmith, Director of Product Management at ColorID, to cover some of the common mobile ID questions he fields from campuses, and to hear about ColorID’s efforts around building mobile ID infrastructures for university clients.

What are the primary barriers for campuses looking to move to a mobile ID solution?

“In conversations we’ve had with higher education professionals over the past 10 years, the most commonly mentioned hurdle in implementing a mobile solution has been cost. For starters, mobile credential providers charge as much or more than cards, for their virtual credentials.

Credentials are only keys to the systems they interface with, which likely means upgrades or replacements to infrastructure will be required.

“In conversations we’ve had with higher education professionals, the most commonly mentioned hurdle in implementing a mobile solution has been cost.”

Infrastructure poses both financial and business problems for campuses that want to migrate to mobile. Door readers, electronic locks, points of sale, gates and MFDs must be upgraded, or more likely replaced, in order to read credentials on mobile devices. For some campuses, this could be thousands of reader replacements.”

How can ColorID provide a comprehensive mobile credential solution for a campus?

“ColorID has relationships with several manufacturers that offer mobile credentials and the corresponding readers and locks. We’re also working with several software companies as they develop identity management platforms that will include mobile credential lifecycle management.

“Mobile ID your way, in your time. That encapsulates the ColorID approach.”

We see the migration to mobile credentials as a longer-term process for most institutions. Those that are ready and able can purchase one of the turnkey mobile solutions from the one-card system providers that offer them. For the rest, we’re already providing mobile solutions and helping schools upgrade their infrastructures to be mobile-ready.

Mobile ID your way, in your time. That encapsulates the ColorID approach.”

Why should a campus consider building a mobile ID infrastructure with ColorID?

“We’re developing parallel and alternative solutions to the those recently introduced by Transact, CBORD and others. Mobile solutions are still new and providers are busy developing a wide range of services that will bring flexibility, security, convenience and, we hope, affordability to this market.

One approach we’re offering enables a university to issue and manage both cards and mobile credentials as a process separate from the one-card system. In this arrangement, the one-card system becomes the consumer of identity data, rather than its sole manager. For example, many universities have their own in-house identity management systems that provide these functions. As those systems age and become harder to maintain, we see a need for a modern commercial platform to replace them and bring support for newer systems like mobile ID.”

Does forming a mobile ID infrastructure with ColorID change a campus’ credential technology or hardware migration efforts?

“We recognize that cards will be with us for a while longer and we will make sure that any mobile product or service we offer will work with existing card systems. In fact, we think our ability to support a wide range of solutions that can coexist with traditional one-card systems provides our customers with the ability to migrate to mobile at their own pace, as their institutional resources allow.”

What specific components is ColorID leveraging to build a mobile ID infrastructure?

“At the simplest level, purchasing and issuing mobile IDs from a manufacturer’s cloud portal such as HID or SafeTrust, and installing compatible readers at doors and POS would get an institution started down the mobile ID path.

ColorID’s mobile ID ecosystem.

HID has just introduced Signo, their latest generation of door readers, which are optimized for mobile credentials. SafeTrust, Lenel and many other manufacturers also offer credential, app, and reader combinations.

Going up a step, HID SAFE offers mobile ID management in the context of Physical Identity Access Management (PIAM). Several of our other partners are building cloud-based identity management platforms that are tightly integrated with card and mobile issuance systems.”

How should a campus decide when the time is right to invest in mobile credentials?

“The user experience and mobile ID performance for most campuses is still taking shape. Widespread adoption, competition resulting in a range of choices and prices, interoperability, and flexibility are all hallmarks of a maturing technology market. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like that yet as it pertains to mobile ID in the US university market.

Since adoption of mobile ID solutions will be a multi-year process for most schools that go in that direction, the ongoing introduction of new products and services to support mobile ID implementations are very much in process.

“The mobile-reader interface is important, but the identity management platform behind it is vital for a long-lasting, secure, and flexible system.”

Schools know where to go to purchase the new, turnkey mobile offerings from Transact, CBORD, Atrium and TouchNet. Other mobile-first systems such as Foundry are also entering the market, which will put pressure on the traditional providers.

ColorID is bringing mobile ID and identity management solutions from other providers to market as they become available. Those schools that are taking more time to implement mobile now will ultimately find more options to select from when they are ready to make decisions down the line.”

Where do you see mobile credentials going forward, both for individual campuses and as an emerging market?

“We believe that a comprehensive identity management platform should be able to provision to any and all systems on campus that consume identity data. That platform should also be capable of managing a range of credential types.

Unlike mobile social apps which communicate directly with the cloud, campus mobile IDs have to interface with a lot of legacy and non-virtual systems. The mobile-reader interface is important, but the identity management platform behind it is vital for a long-lasting, secure, and flexible system.

Think about the now very mature ecosystem surrounding credit cards. The background processes involved in vetting you financially, provisioning that card, sending it to you, then recognizing the card at the POS, authorizing it through a real-time account verification, billing you for the transaction through your financial institution, and then reporting all of the above involves a huge number of interconnected systems. Systems that are constantly being updated and/or replaced. Who saw Square coming? We expect similar disruptive introductions to find their way into the university market.”


ColorID is providing more information about ways campuses can make the move to a mobile ID infrastructure on its website. ColorID is also covering this discussion in an engaging webinar format as part of its Campus Forum Series. The webinars are free to attend, and the company’s “Going Mobile for Under $1M” session will run on April 21, May 5, and May 21 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

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