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4 Ways Higher Ed Can Create Contactless Campuses

1/12/2021 1:00:00 AM

As colleges and universities seek as many ways as possible to prevent and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 on their campuses, they can take advantage of a wide array of budget-friendly best practices, procedures, and solutions to reduce contact points during specific transactions. Here are some useful options schools can consider as they transform their campuses into contactless experiences:

1. Repositioning or eliminating certain card readers

Schools can limit contact between customers and cashiers by turning card readers at points of sale toward the customer. Instead of students and staff members handing their cards to cashiers to tap or swipe into card readers, they can scan their cards themselves. Schools should also consider adopting alternatives to magnetic stripe readers, which require cards and users to come into contact with them, which can spread germs.

2. Princeton Identity Biometric terminals

Princeton Identity Biometric terminals directly integrate into TouchNet OneCard to process meal plans. Students who have purchased food or registered to enter a dining facility at a particular time just need to stand in front of this API-integrated solution. The terminal scans their biometrics, and if their information checks out, it will trigger actions such as activating a turnstile or opening a door so the student can enter. The terminal can also be linked to lights that turn on when a student is allowed to enter the premises. No point of sale is required.

3. NEXTEP self-serve kiosks

Students do not have to touch the NEXTEP self-serve kiosk screens when placing an order. Newly integrated technology allows students to select items by simply hovering their finger over what they want to purchase. NEXTEP screens are also illuminated by special ultraviolet lights that eliminate germs. To comply with social-distancing recommendations, schools can install these kiosks in specific areas of their dining facilities and encourage students to move to different designated spaces to reduce the number of people congregating when ordering.

4. Going mobile

Expanding mobile capabilities can greatly reduce contact on campus, especially in dining facilities. Instead of students having to physically visit offices across campus for services such as checking on the status of meal plans or adding funds to an account, dynamic mobile apps can provide these services right at the students’ fingertips. During in-store transactions, the OneCard mobile app features a QR code that can be scanned at point-of-sale terminals without touching anything. It eliminates having to pass cards to cashiers or put cards in direct contact with magnetic stripe readers, which can increase the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure.

Also, TouchNet’s new OrderAhead app makes the entire ordering process a mobile experience by essentially putting the kiosk into the students’ hands. Students can browse, choose, and order menu items from their phones to leverage the POS infrastructure. The app enables them to create online-only packages, sync products with certain meal plans, or make items equivalent to meals.

Administrators also can send push notifications directly to cardholders, such as messages that a certain order is taking longer than expected. The app also allows administrators to manage reservations by setting space limits on certain facilities to adhere with social-distancing recommendations.