Arizona State University tests NFC

Some 80% of participants in the access control pilot say that using a smartphone to unlock a door is just as convenient as using their campus ID card and almost all are interested in using their NFC phone to make payments and access other services.

Arizona State University's Tempe campus. Photographer: Tom Story
ASU: NFC keys proved popular in trial

A group of students and staff at Arizona State University (ASU) are testing the use of NFC phones to replace traditional access control cards and keys.

The participants in the pilot are able to access a campus residence hall as well as selected rooms using HID Global’s new iClass SE credentials carried on a variety of popular smartphones connected to all major mobile networks.

In initial feedback, approximately 80% of ASU participants reported that using a smartphone to unlock a door is just as convenient as using their campus ID card. Nearly 90% said they would like to use their smartphone to open all doors on campus. And, while the pilot was focused on physical access, nearly all participants also expressed an interest in using their NFC phone for other campus applications including access to the student recreation center, as well as transit fare payment and meal, ticket and merchandise purchases.

For the pilot, HID Global has installed iClass SE readers on secured doors to ASU’s Palo Verde main hall, and HID technology-enabled Sargent Profile Series electromechanical locks from parent company Assa Abloy on selected resident room doors.

Participants have been given NFC smartphones carrying iClass SE digital credentials. To open door locks, participants simply present the phones to a door reader in the same way as they currently do with their existing contactless Sun Cards, also supplied by HID Global.

All participants are using their phones for residence hall access. Some are also using them with a unique additional digital key and PIN to open individual room doors. The technology also supports over-the-air provisioning and management of digital keys which, says HID Global, simplifies administration of the access control system.

“When I first saw this technology used in other applications, I recognized the benefits it could bring to a university campus,” says Laura Ploughe, director of business applications and fiscal control at Arizona State University. “Mobile phones are at the heart of campus life and play a major role in facilitating the students’ social connections.

“This project with HID Global has proven that a ubiquitous device can converge secure identity credentials and physical access control, and endorsed the promise that NFC technology holds within the campus environment. We were very impressed with the convenience of putting Sun Card credentials on NFC smartphones, as well as the enhanced security that is delivered by this next-generation of advanced access control system.”

“Participants are excited about using these NFC smartphones,” adds Debra Spitler, vice president of HID Connect, which provides third-party developers with the ability to use existing HID technology-enabled cards for new applications. “Many have said they often leave their room without their Sun Card, but never forget their phones; by carrying their Sun Card credentials inside their phone, they know they can always get back into their residence hall or room.”

“This project highlights the promise of taking NFC technology beyond cashless payment into new, complementary physical access control applications,” says Denis Hébert, HID Global’s president and CEO. “ASU is a leading innovator and long-time iClass user, and now the university is helping us validate how bringing mobility to access control improves security while enhancing the user experience by making it easier to deploy and manage keys and more convenient to carry them. With this technology, any door that’s opened with a key or Sun Card has the potential to now be opened with a phone.”

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