Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security
Starship NAU 1

TouchNet Ready Partner Program helps bring Starship robot delivery to campus

Andrew Hudson   ||   Nov 30, 2020  ||   , ,

Card system vendor TouchNet has developed an extensive network of third-party vendors with its Ready Partner Program. The program is designed to provide TouchNet customers looking to add new services or features with a catalog of third-party providers that are validated to integrate into TouchNet solutions.

Among the ever-growing list of TouchNet Ready Partners is Starship Technologies – the company now renowned for its fleet of autonomous delivery robots. Robot delivery was already proving its viability before the arrival of a global pandemic, but in this new normal it seems that this service has only grown in importance.

Universities across the country are looking for new ways to keep dining convenient for students and workable for the institution. It’s an exceedingly difficult proposition now as campus dining has to strike a balance between efficiency and safety in the form of social distancing guidelines and altered dining schedules designed to keep foot traffic to a minimum.

Starship delivery robots

Starship Technologies and TouchNet work cooperatively via the Ready Partner Program to bring the delivery robots to TouchNet client campuses.

“With Starship as a Ready Partner, there’s no additional modules or requirements from the OneCard side because they’re using the standard declining balance,” says Dave Falldien, Manager, Sales Engineering at TouchNet. “All the campus has to do is contact TouchNet and inform us that they want a Starship implementation that accepts the OneCard student credential as a form of payment.”

For TouchNet campuses that have made it available, the student OneCard appears as a payment method for purchases made in the Starship app. Those orders are also reflected on the student’s account in real time.

“The leg work for TouchNet campuses to integrate with Starship is minimal,” says Falldien. “All a campus has to have in place from TouchNet’s standpoint is the third-party integration.”

Among TouchNet’s campus power users for the Starship app is the University of Houston. The University of Houston’s go-live date was November 11, 2019 when it logged 454 deliveries on day one alone. The service is currently offered at on campus locations such as Starbucks, Mondo Subs, Subway, Panda Express and one of UH’s c-stores.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to provide food service and engage our students,” says Alexcis Mendoza, District Marketing Manager, University of Houston System. “We wanted the service to be inclusive and know that a core part of our student population relies on dining dollars as their means of purchasing. Because of this, it was important for us to launch with dining dollars as a tender option.”

“Because Starship and TouchNet had an integration that we were able to leverage, there weren’t any hurdles or delays,” says Mendoza. “We opened on day one with Cougar Cash fully integrated.”

The University of Houston peaked at 475 orders per day in November 2019. Then came the arrival of COVID.

“Spring 2020 was abnormal to say the least. It’s difficult to determine an accurate trend but our forecast pre COVID-19 would have seen the service continue to grow,” explains Mendoza. “With both new and repeat guests, it would have put us at 600 deliveries daily.”

Due to the significant reduction of in-person classes and campus population this fall, Houston has closed or reduced hours of operation for most of its campus retail locations.

“With the difficult decisions the university made this fall, the delivery service has seen a decline,” says Mendoza. “However, the service and amenity these robots provide is more relevant and important than ever before. We’re glad to have the opportunity to provide this innovative option to our students.”

The TouchNet Ready Partner Program

Now that we’ve got the details on robot delivery, let’s circle back to the Ready Partner Program.

“The idea behind the TouchNet Ready Partner Program is to help build a replicable platform for Starship and other third-party vendors in higher education,” explains Falldien. “The Ready Program is our way of vetting third parties for direct access to TouchNet technology.”

From the university’s standpoint it’s a plug-and-play type of scenario. The university can search the vendor database based on the service they’re looking for and then benefit from the assurance that the vendor is already validated by TouchNet.

“There’s always going to be configurations, but it’s minimal when going through the TouchNet Ready process because it’s an existing, pre-built standardized integration,” explains Falldien. “Vendors apply to join the program, then go through a validation process to gain access to the TouchNet API, endpoints, programming, U-stores, etc.”

TouchNet already boasts a roster of hundreds of Ready Partners but continues to look at new and different services spanning all facets of campus life including bookstores, admissions, events, publishing, parking, printing, and rec centers. Vendors in these spaces can tie into TouchNet’s API either through the company’s payment gateway for commerce applications or through the OneCard platform.

In general, the on-boarding process for third-party vendors to the Ready Program is seamless. There is a validation process that’s conducted by the TouchNet dev team, which helps to comprehensively vet the prospective vendor.

A solution for the new normal

As higher ed continues to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID, solutions like Starship and other TouchNet Ready Partners could offer respite in the form of new service models.

“The big one with Starship is being able to offer automated, contactless delivery,” says Falldien. “It was super convenient before, but now with COVID it’s helping to keep students fed when we’re reducing volumes in community dining halls.”

COVID has, in a sense, only accelerated what was already happening on campus with robot delivery. Robot delivery arrived on campus with the “wow” factor, but the pandemic has brought new levels of importance to the service.

“Even as we’re rolling out more order-ahead services, creating delivery points and options is now part of the requirement to keep everyone safe,” says Falldien. “Delivery was coming regardless of COVID, but now we’re taking what was originally meant to be a convenience and making it a proper service.”

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


ColorID blog: Maximizing visitor management solutions

The third installment of ColorID's "Looking up to the Cloud" series examines the topic of visitor management solutions. Specifically, the role that cloud-based visitor management systems can play in creating a welcoming, convenient experience for campus visitors.
Mar 16, 23 / ,

Entrust report: Young consumers favor digital ID, seamless experience

In a recent entry to the Entrust blog, Jenn Markey, VP Product Marketing, Payments & Identity at Entrust, discussed the findings from the company's recent "Future of Identity" report. The report was compiled by the Entrust Cybersecurity Institute and sought to characterize consumer thoughts on passwordless authentication, hybrid identities, and ownership over personal identity information.

Expanding access control despite limited funds

There's never a shortage of desire to upgrade campus security and access control infrastructure, but securing the funding for such projects can be tricky business. In the third installment of his "Top Tips" series, ASSA ABLOY's Tyler Webb discusses some creative ways that universities source funding and pay for access control technology on campus.
CIDN logo reversed
The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.

Join us, @NACCUorg, and @TouchNet to explore how campus card programs can successfully navigate the sales and procurement process. Join the webinar on June 6, 2 pm EDT.

Webinar: Learn how the University of Arizona uses campus cards, mobile ordering, kiosks, lockers, and robots to revolutionize campus dining. April 7, 2-2:30 EDT. Register Now at

As supply chain issues in 2021 persist, identity solutions provider @ColorID discusses ways campuses can to overcome potentially troublesome delays until the situation eases.

A dining services push at the @UBuffalo is reinforcing the utility of self-service checkout. @CBORD is improving the food service experience using the GET app, as well as Nextep kiosks and Oracle’s Micros Simphony POS.

Did you miss our recent webinar? No worries - watch it on-demand. Leaders from @NAU and the @UAlberta joined Ryan Audus, Touchnet, and Andrew Hudson, @CR80News, to discuss innovative mobile services and the future of mobile tech in higher ed. Watch now:

Load More...
CampusIDNews is published by AVISIAN Publishing
315 E. Georgia St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301[email protected]
Use our contact form to submit tips, corrections, or questions to our team.
©2023 CampusIDNews. All rights reserved.