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The mobile app is the new campus card


Vendors create enhancements that can’t be accomplished with cards alone

It’s fair to say that the college experience has changed throughout the years, a shift that permeates every aspect of student life down to the student ID card. The contemporary student uses their ID for everything from physical access to buildings to paying for everyday items like laundry or food.

The latest development to come to the campus card is enabling functionality on the mobile phone. Campus card providers are working to integrate campus card functions into the mobile device so students can access services by launching an app.

With its MyPay app, Heartland Campus Solutions is working with institutions to marry the functionality of the campus ID and the mobile device, says Fred Emery, vice president and general manager at Heartland’s Campus Solutions.

One of the early adopters of MyPay is St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York. The college’s Spartan Card has long been used for identification, access control, meal plans, library access, vending, laundry and bookstore purchases as well as off-campus retail activity.

MyPay virtualizes cardholder ID credentials within the mobile app itself in an area called MyID. It serves as your OneCard mobile wallet, explains Emery. “The app communicates with connected terminals on the network in lieu of the physical card,” he explains.

“Students always seem to have their smart phone in hand and having the ability to use that device to make payments or have access to privileges is very convenient,” says Emery. “You get the convenience of mobile plus enhanced functionality, such as immediate balance information.”

Heartland: Mobile offers benefits beyond card

This immediate access to additional, enhanced data cannot be delivered with a card alone. Thus Emery believes the mobile version of the OneCard may prove to be even more valuable to the credential holder than the card itself.

As an added feature, information on the virtual card can be updated immediately, allowing the issuing campus to push information to the student as needed. According to Emery, an additional 10 schools are in the process of rolling out MyPay.

The app supports iOS and Android platforms, enabling the use of any iPhone version, iPod Touch, iPad or iPad mini as well as the full suite of Android phones and tablets. “We are also in the process of reviewing Blackberry and Windows phone support,” adds Emery.

St. Thomas Aquinas already had Heartland’s OneCard system deployed, so rollout of MyPay was easy, says Jim Nawoichyk, director of Campus Safety at the college. “Right now, we’re using the mobile app to let students pay for laundry and vending purchases,” he says, adding that the new feature has been very popular on campus.

As university life continues to change, the role and form factor of the student ID is likely to evolve with it. The experience at St. Thomas Aquinas is a strong indicator that the mobile device has a place in the campus ID future.

It also has the potential to boost service usage and program revenues. As Emery explains, “compared to the phone, we have found that students are more apt to forget or lose their card, thus preventing transactions and reducing use.”

CBORD embraces the mobile

The CBORD Group has been busy on the mobile front, enabling students to open their door, call upon a virtual security escort and order food all using their favorite mobile device.

CBORD Mobile ID is a smart phone app that puts a campus card into the handset. Students can then use their phones for access, vending, attendance and other secure transactions on campus.

It works with both iOS and Android systems and students simply download the app through either Apple’s App Store or Google Play. With the app, the student’s phone becomes their card. They use it by specifying the location of their desired transaction or access point and then swiping the card icon on the phone to complete the transaction.

Before approving a transaction, the app uses location services to confirm that the user is within a certain distance of the terminal. If a phone is lost or stolen, the user can report it as they would a lost card disabling the app.

SMS: OpenMyDoor

CBORD rolled out a physical access control extra at the Illinois Institute of Technology. IIT’s adoption of CS Access enables its students to access residence hall rooms and other doors on campus by simply opening CBORD’s mobile app–CBORD Mobile ID–or by sending a text message reading “Open MyDoor” to gain physical access. CBORD’s CS Access manages both mobile access methods.

The app requires a smart phone, but the text message method of access ensures that students without smart phones are still able to interact with the solution.

As an additional failsafe for student access, campus staff can be assigned temporary, elevated door access privileges using a “MasterKey” text-enabled function. Elevated privilege can only granted with management’s approval and any occupants of the room receive prior notification of entry.

The MasterKey function provides an added layer of security by doing away with the riskier metal master key. Additionally, the solution cuts costs associated with manufacturing and replacing lost metal keys.

Mobile Blue Lights and virtual escorts

Just down the road from IIT, the University of Chicago is using a smart phone app that offers virtual safety escorts to students walking alone. Called Pathlight, it provides students with a simple means to increase their own safety.

The CBORD-developed app enables students to opt into GPS tracking services for their phones so that location information is transmitted to campus dispatchers or security office personnel in the case of an emergency.

If a student, for example, is walking alone at night across campus, all they need to do is launch the app, enter the required information and press “Follow Me Now” to initiate tracking. The University of Chicago Police Department can then remotely track the student’s progress until the walk is over. It is like a virtual safety escort, albeit one that is less resource-intensive for the police department.

If a student senses danger, a “Help” button triggers a silent alarm, which immediately notifies dispatchers of the student’s location and need for assistance. In this way, Pathlight functions almost as a portable blue light.

From student safety to student snacking

For those late night study sessions CBORD announced the release of GET Food, an online and mobile ordering system designed to expand college and university students’ dining options and improve convenience.

GET Food extends the campus card’s purchasing power to food venues on campus and off. It is designed to simplify online and mobile ordering and payment transactions. Students simply log in to view menus from participating venues on campus and off and pay using their campus card account.

GET can benefit the school and the student alike. Students enjoy a mobile one-stop shop for managing funds and expanding their dining options. Universities appreciate a hosted commerce platform that integrates with their existing campus card systems and enables them to offer mobile features.

Merchants and campus dining venues benefit from a virtual storefront with advertising that attracts students and potentially increasing sales. Parents value a secure means of getting funds to their students to be used in a controlled spending environment while broadening their dining horizons. GET Food is integrated with CBORD’s CS Gold, Odyssey PCS and OdysseyOne campus card systems.

Salem State University deployed the system and has received positive feedback, says Robert Thayer, manager of the ClipperCard Program, at the Mass.-based institution.

“They say the online ordering is convenient, the site is intuitive, and they are recommending it to all their friends,” explains Thayer. “From a university perspective, we appreciate the security of online ordering and the convenience of offering account management, online ordering, and transaction processing all through the GET platform. We plan to keep expanding its use to other venues.”

The future

Use of the mobile devices on campus is only going to grow as smart phones become truly ubiquitous. Campus card vendors are focusing on enabling students to perform a multitude of tasks with mobile apps as well as the campus ID.

Students perform tasks on the smart phone that, in the past, would have required a trip to the card office or an online session at a computer. Adding value to declining balance accounts, checking transaction logs, reporting lost cards and a host of other functions let the mobile device empower the actual ID card and enhance the student experience.

In other cases the mobile device is actually functioning as the card, initiating payments, checking out books and opening doors.

Linking the two form factors–mobile and plastic card–seems destined to add value to both.

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