Mobile future for campus credentials

June 2015 Access Control & Identity Management

Now that IDs are going digital and are extending to smartphones and other mobile devices, users will have more options than ever for opening doors and parking gates, paying for products and services, accessing campus VPNs, wireless networks, cloud- and Web-based applications. Plus, because underlying access control systems are now based on interoperable platforms and open standards, we are poised for unprecedented innovation in how campus IDs are created, used and managed.

Robbie Truter, area sales manager sub-Saharan Africa, HID Global.
Robbie Truter, area sales manager sub-Saharan Africa, HID Global.

Many universities are already deploying campus IDs on smartphones. With a simple tap of the phone to a mobile-enabled reader, users can open doors, buy meals, check out books and equipment, and pay for parking, transportation and other services.

A recent Vanderbilt University pilot of HID Mobile Access included another 'twist' as well – using the smartphone’s Bluetooth connection and gesture technology to open a door or parking gate from a distance by simply rotating the device. Pilot participants particularly appreciated the convenience of not having to roll down their window as they approached a parking gate.

Consider students in wheelchairs, for example, for whom it was previously difficult to tap a card to a reader and then navigate the doorway before the door closed again. This will no longer be a problem with mobile IDs that open doors from a distance using gesture technology.

Phone-free mobility

But mobile convenience doesn’t end with smartphones. For instance, those who are willing to relinquish their phone for a hands-free morning workout will soon be able to head out the door with nothing but a digital wristband carrying their campus ID, enabling them to access the campus fitness centre, buy a latte at the coffee shop, or pick up a few necessities from the university convenience store before returning to their dorm room.

As we move forward, campuses will also be authenticating identities for more activities, extending the value of their access control investments while further enhancing the user experience. Identities are not only being used today to open campus doors and purchase items, but are also being used for time and attendance, secure print management and other daily tasks. Future IDs – whether on plastic cards or mobile devices – will do even more, with increasingly important benefits.

For instance, consider the advantages of being able to encode information on a card or mobile ID regarding a student’s physical conditions or required medications. This is vital information that can be accessed in an emergency situation by authorised medical personal following an injury or other accident that renders the user unconscious.

Identities will also be used to authenticate students in an increasingly digital campus environment, where virtually everything happens online – assignments, grades, medical results and fees, loan payments and other financial transactions. To ensure identity security and privacy during these transactions, universities will adopt strong authentication solutions that move beyond simple passwords – something the user knows – to something the user has, such as a mobile or Web token.

Cards are here to stay

Despite the growth of mobile identity solutions, don’t expect plastic ID cards to go away anytime soon. Some campuses will still want a visible ID badge, which will continue to transition from mag-stripe cards with little or no fraud protection to high-frequency contactless smartcard technology. To optimise badging, universities will select printers, card materials and software that enable them to incorporate both visual and logical anti-tamper elements into their cards for more trustworthy, multi-layered authentication. Inline personalisation will grow in popularity as well, enabling card offices to combine multiple processes into one automated step.

It is difficult to predict all the possible innovations and use cases that will emerge as campus IDs move toward the next decade, 2020 and beyond. But today’s technology is enabling universities to offer functions that were not possible, or perhaps not even conceivable, with yesterday’s mag-stripe or prox cards. All of the pieces are moving into place in 2015 for unprecedented innovation around the campus credential.

For more information contact HID Global, +27 (0)82 449 9398,,


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