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Dartmouth considers biometric dining solution

Andrew Hudson   ||   Feb 28, 2020  ||   ,

One of the most common campus implementations for biometric technology is in the dining hall, where quickly sending large numbers of students through a turnstile is vital. One university that seems particularly eager to deploy biometrics in this manner is Dartmouth University, where campus dining personnel are considering a future rollout.

According to a report from student publication, The Dartmouth, Dartmouth Dining Services has been "actively looking" into incorporating biometrics at its Class of 1953 Commons. The 1953 Commons building is one of Dartmouth's main, all-you-care-to-eat dining halls that serves the campus community.

“We realized that we had to be more efficient in getting you into the property and allowing you to get food in the property,” said Jon Plodzik, Dartmouth Dining Services director, in a statement to The Dartmouth.

While the exact biometric modality hasn't been decided yet, any biometric access implementation would enable participating students use their biometric in lieu of their Dartmouth student ID card when entering the facility.

Currently, students present their campus card at a POS unit to gain entry to the dining hall. Plodzik was drawn to biometric technology, in part, because the change would free up existing POS registers to instead focus on cash or credit/debit transactions, Dartmouth's Green2Go reusable to-go box orders, and guest passes.

As is the case with other campuses to implement biometric dining solutions, adding biometrics to dining hall ingress can help prevent long lines from forming and in turn make for a better student experience.

In addition to breaking down long lines, however, biometric entry also provides dining operations with options to better utilize its resources and manpower.

Plodzik said that should a biometric system be implemented at the Class of 1953 Commons, dining services would most likely redistribute employees working the POS station to other locations. These employees could provide cover in under-staffed tasks like waiting tables or loading utensils and tableware.

Plodzik previously worked with biometrics during his time at the University of New Hampshire, and in his statement to The Dartmouth, cited other biometrics success stories including the University of Maryland.

“The director of The University of Maryland wrote to me yesterday,” Plodzik said. “She said, ‘I can’t imagine life without biometric entry. It’s such an efficient process for us.’”

Final approval for a biometrics solution hasn't yet been achieved, but talks between Dartmouth Dining and university administration are reportedly moving the program idea forward. Plodzik hopes that a biometric system will be in place in the coming years.

Plodzik also says that any biometric program implemented by Dartmouth Dining would be entirely opt-in.

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