School Security: NFC Proves Itself on Campus

Pilot projects at Villanova and the University of San Francisco confirm the viability of the technology

“Today’s students are so technologically advanced that it is second nature for them to put everything on their phones. Most of the time, the phone is already in their hands while walking across campus,” explains Kathy Gallagher, Villanova director of card services. “We want to provide our students the utmost in convenience and flexibility through the technology we offer. It’s easier for students to use an app on their phone vs. digging for their card.”

The University of San Francisco (USF) also uses student smart phones for door access plus spending at laundry terminals. USF’s systems approach integrates all aspects of a physical security solution — including campus card programs, biometrics, access control, video surveillance systems, and incident response and notification systems. USF chose such a convergence model to increase crime prevention, respond to incidents in progress with as much information as possible and alert the community when incidents are in progress through an effective, multi-layer approach and to improve their investigative tools. The project’s first phase was completed with high acceptance and further expansion is planned. USF also integrates its NFC credential with the CBORD system using the aptiQmobile app.

“We want our use of the Near Field Communications to enhance the USF One Card experience on many levels, which is why we introduced it for both door access and laundry payment,” says Jason Rossi, USF’s Director of One Card and Campus Security Systems. “Our students have embraced it, telling us they prefer the convenience of their iPhones to digging for their One Cards. This convenience is important to us, but equally important is the security of using their existing contactless credentials, keeping our transactions secure. The combination makes for a first-rate experience for our students and our staff.”


Administrators Get on Board

The convenience of using smart phones instead of badges extends to administrators in charge of access control systems. Instead of printing ID badges for each student at enrollment time, a mobile ‘key’ is issued online by the administrator directly to the student’s phone at any time, saving time, administrative costs and the expense of printers, ink, card inventory and other needed supplies.

“Using smart phones as badges saves time that can be better spent on other issues,” emphasizes John Bonass, Villanova systems manager. “Assigning the credential to the students’ phone takes less work than printing and delivering a badge, and, since students are very protective of their phones, this should lead to a greatly reduced replacement rate. If a phone is lost or broken, a new ID can be reissued to the new phone without even having the students come to our office.”

The initial testing of the NFC solution was so positive for access control to the residence halls that Villanova has leveraged smart technology and introduced its students to additional one card applications using their smart phones across campus. Thus, Villanova students in two special residence halls were able to unlock doors to the front door of the facility and dorm rooms as well as contract for laundry services, vending and the cafeteria with their own iPhones when they returned to campus for the 2012/2013 school year.

Over the summer, 80 NFC-enabled Schlage AD-Series locks had been implemented in St. Claire and Jackson Halls, highly prized residences for which seniors must win a lottery.


NFC’s Future is Imminent

Many smart phones currently on the market are already NFC-enabled, with more models being launched every month. In the United States, more than 40 million phones were expected to be NFC-enabled by the end of 2012 and, according to a report by Market Research, nearly half of all mobile phones will be NFC enabled by 2016.

Using mobile devices is a common behavior for consumers and businesspeople. In fact, 5.9 billion of us (87 percent of the world’s population) are mobile subscribers for one type of device or another — many of us using two or more. Go to an airport and glance at all the folks working their wireless computers, smart phones, iPads and Kindles. That will tell you that mobile computing is an imperative today. And, mobile use has begun to permeate the consumer market in ways beyond simple communication, web browsing or ordering from e-stores.