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Vanderbilt Tests Mobile App for Building Access

Vanderbilt University recently experimented with the use of smartphones as a mechanism to unlock access on campus. Working with security company HID Global, about 15 users tested the use of mobile IDs from their Apple iPhones and Android-based Samsung Galaxy devices.

The goal of the project was to see how well the smartphones worked in opening doors and gates from a distance when users tapped an access control panel or used a "twist and go" gesture. Each phone ran an HID app, Mobile Access. Entry points, including one parking garage gate, were equipped with HID's iCLASS SE card readers; the same app also worked with the campus' existing CBORD CS access readers. The campus used HID Secure Identity Services portal to provision and revoke the Mobile IDs.

The HID Mobile Access system encompasses several components:

  • iCLASS SE readers that are mobile-enabled;
  • Mobile IDs;
  • The HID Secure Identity Services portal, a hosted service; and
  • The HID Mobile Access app for smartphones.

According to an HID statement, pilot participants pointed to convenience as the top benefit of HID Mobile Access since they tend to carry their smartphones everywhere and are less likely to lose those vs. the traditional access card. They also confirmed that installing and registering the app was efficient and simple. The university provided "positive feedback" on the Mobile ID issuance process, which it considered straightforward, fast and easy, according to the company.

Vanderbilt expects to install iCLASS SE readers in new buildings to expand the use of mobile access in the future, while retaining interoperability with current ID cards.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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