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ScholarChip Mobile App to Allow School to Track Students On the Go

The Westbury School District plans to test the new solution on its buses, so that its staff can use NFC-enabled cell phones to read the RFID tags in ID cards carried by students.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 19, 2012ScholarChip's School Safety and Operations platform is already enabling students to utilize radio frequency identification cards or fobs to check into classrooms, cafeterias or other sites on their campus. Now, new functionality—which the company released this spring—will allows the school's staff to employ Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled smartphones or tablets to capture information from student ID cards. This enables the school to track the students as they ride buses, attend field trips or visit other locations outside classrooms. The mobile version of the system was launched in April, says Maged Atiya, ScholarChip's founder and CTO. Schools have yet to begin using the Android-based technology, he notes, though several have plans to do so during the coming school year.

Students tap their cards at a kiosk with a built-in HID Omnikey RFID reader, providing data for an attendance report indicating which children arrived, and when.
Each card or fob, manufactured by ScholarChip, has an embedded RFID tag made with a Mifare chip supplied by NXP Semiconductors. The tag, which is compliant with NFC standards, can be used not only to track student attendance, but also, in some cases, to make purchases within schools, by creating purses for free or subsidized lunches. A student can simply have his or her tag read when buying lunch, and the software on the server (either hosted by ScholarChip or residing on the school's own database) will manage the payment information, deducting the appropriate amount from that child's purse.

Until this year, however, the tags could be interrogated only at permanent kiosks containing HID's Omnikey RFID readers, such as the Cardman 5321 model. Now, using an Android-based, NFC-enabled phone or tablet, a school could provide some of its employees with the ability to read students' tags in a more mobile environment, such as on playgrounds, in hallways or on buses. A phone or tablet could also be utilized to identify any child receiving lunch within a classroom or work area, rather than in a cafeteria.

The Android phone or tablet user would simply download a ScholarChip application that would enable him or her to read each tag and have its ID number sent to ScholarChip's cloud server, where that information could then be linked to details regarding the card holder—specifically, whether that person was a student or a staff member.

ScholarChip's Maged Atiya
One district with plans to begin piloting the mobile solution is the Westbury School District, on Long Island, N.Y., which already uses the ScholarChip system at all of its public schools. A total of 4,600 students currently carry the ScholarChip cards, and 700 employees also utilize them for access control. The schools use Evolis' Pebble card printer to generate the ScholarChip cards that it issues to its students and staff.

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