This article was originally published by HID Global Mobile Technology, as part of a partnership with our Marbella campus. You can find the original article here.
When students come to study at the prestigious Les Roches Marbella campus in Spain, they are not just attending one of the world’s leading hospitality business schools, they are also enveloped in extraordinary innovation and sophisticated living to mirror the exceptional experiences they are being prepared to facilitate in their future careers.
The institution’s aim is to serve up “academic rigor with a twist of innovation and entrepreneurship” to its 1,000+ students from all corners of the planet — who collectively represent more than 80 nationalities. This real-life training site for elite hospitality professionals must offer an authentic, hands-on experience to its students — one that reflects the luxurious living and progressive comforts expected from high-end hospitality properties and their employees.
To ensure Les Roches is always ahead of the curve and a model campus when it comes to exemplary learning based on cutting-edge technologies, administrators wanted to evolve its mobile ecosystem. One articular aspect they sought to enrich was integrating “digital badge” access across their coastal Mediterranean property in Spain.
The project’s objective was to migrate to a mobile credentials-based system where a student’s plastic access card is replaced by digital ID on a smartphone. This would serve as the verification for daily physical access and digital touchpoints (e.g., building access, vending machines, restaurant reservations, etc.). This effort would also allow the school to steer digital transformation and student efficiencies throughout its security and administrative functions.
“Everything here is about the student experience,” said Mano Soler, Director of Student Services and Operations at Les Roches Marbella. “It is our main driver and the reason we embrace and foster innovation — because innovation makes our students’ lives easier and supports their wellbeing through secure technology. The students will eventually leave this campus and, in turn, take that know-how and excellence into the world with them.”
For 10 years, Les Roches Marbella relied on an RFID (radio frequency identification) card-based system to identify and grant access to students. This was a fundamental tool that nearly 1,000 individuals needed to have with them at all times to validate themselves day in and day out.
Supporting their quest for digital transformation, as part of the school’s Spark incubator program, the leadership team wanted a mobile solution to fit specific campus requirements such as swiftly ranting/removing accesses, avoiding disruption when students lose/forget cards and accommodating a multi-system environment.
Management also wanted to drive improvements through back-office processes and procedures to save time and resources, and enhance everyday life on campus through modern technology. One of the most pressing factors for this particular mobile initiative was to achieve higher efficiency around the school’s new student intake registration/check-in process each semester. Loading ID credentials individually onto RFID cards, then printing each of the 1,000+ cards, meant corrections along the way were inevitable.
Yet, the transition to mobile didn’t come without a series of obstacles and serious consideration. Each touchpoint where a card was to be replaced with smartphone technology required deep analysis and complex integration work — specifically involving seven to eight different brands whose products were already deployed throughout the premises (e.g., printers, vending machines, security technologies, door access, laundry facilities, parking garages and more). Les Roches required an access partner with solutions compatible with the many other products already in play within its existing infrastructure, and an
ability to successfully address former system re-adaptation.
In addition, the mobile technology needed to support both Android and iOS phones, as well as physical card technology (the RFID ecosystem would remain intact for non-student purposes and serve as a migration path for other areas not yet mobile). The school wanted a single company to supply both the hardware and software elements. And, as a higher education establishment with upscale expectations and an outstanding reputation, the Les Roches decision-makers required a proven partner of this same ilk.
To transform technologies and reach new degrees of onsite productivity and novel amenities, Les Roches Marbella selected HID Global for its unmatched mobile access portfolio. As a market leader in trusted identification and authentication, and with a network of partnerships that spans the globe, HID’s experts designed a system to meet each requirement from the school — resulting in a tremendous collection of 40+ access points featuring mobile identification, app, portal and reader technologies.
The integration project was completed within an accelerated time frame to ensure it was in place before students set foot onto campus that fall. HID Global components that comprise this robust mobile ecosystem include: HID OMNIKEY® readers and reader modules (OMNIKEY 5427, OMNIKEY 5127CK Mini, OMNIKEY 5127 Reader Core), HID Signo™ access control readers, HID Seos® mobile credentials and more.
With a slight tap or wave of their smartphone, students interact easily with the mobile ecosystem and via the digital Seos credential to authenticate themselves as they move throughout the property each day. HID Global access technologies are embedded in:
- Parking garage systems
- Building entrances
- Vending machines
- Laundry facilities
- Point-of-sale at restaurants/on-campus eateries
- Restaurant access control
- Class attendance tracking
“You cannot discount the value of mobile when it comes to today’s student populations,” said Soler. “It is their way of life. They were ‘born digital’ and they have an expectation when it comes to smart living — for them, it’s a mobile-first world. We get it. We embrace it. And, we intend to attract and retain students by offering them an unparalleled educational experience while here in Marbella.”
Tying back to one of the original reasons for this mobile initiative, registration check-ins are now streamlined, and Les Roches Marbella has gained immediate improvements around this important event that takes place each semester. Now, 100% of students use the mobile access system on campus. Students register digitally — with the option to do so in-person, ahead of time or remotely with no human interaction. HID Global credentials available now via a smartphone make scaling individual access up and down significantly easier for IT, faculty and students.
And on a case-by-case basis, Les Roches Marbella is already finding ways to apply its own in-house ingenuity to foster disruptive thinking. The school used 3D printers to design a customized case to house phones/tablets alongside HID Global access modules — creating a unique, homegrown handheld tool that easily allows campus security personnel to check IDs as required. This safety support tool came about when there was no suitable offering available on the market to meet the school’s specific needs for security checkpoints. The flexibility and power of HID Global components enabled the team to re-imagine
and invent an original Les Roches security product in order to, as always, improve the student experience.
Les Roches Marbella teams already have many new use cases in the works to fuel future “wins” across the premises. One of the next initiatives focuses on automated student attendance tracking that’s expected to save time at the beginning of each class period and serve as another way to further support and protect students. Mini-computers and readers will be installed in each classroom and students will use their mobile ID (via their smartphone) to mark attendance. All will be handled by a web application running on the mini-computer and will push and pull data to/from the Les Roches Absences application in real time through API-based interfaces.
“Our eyes are wide open to all the possibilities afforded by the marvelous world of mobile authentication and verification, and each week we come up with new ideas for the continued transformation we have in motion on our campus,” said Juan Luis Velasco, IT Manager at Les Roches Marbella. “Our students love this newfound convenience, and our staff members are reaping the benefits of this technology overhaul.”
Today, Les Roches Marbella has a best-in-class mobile access system that squarely aligns with the school’s wider objective to be an example of innovation and excellence in global hospitality training — both within its own brand family, as well as within the broader realm of higher education.
Beyond elevating the student experience through the convenience of mobile IDs and strengthening security when it comes to student safety and mobile ID verification, Les Roches Marbella has an extremely efficient, flexible and scalable solution that can grow with them as technologies evolve and digital trends continue to transform and connect us all to an international degree.
“This is a story about the value of mobile — and any size campus in any sector of education can benefit from the digital transformation angles when it comes to campus business,” said Velasco. “But the most rewarding aspect truly is connecting to our students in a way that’s important, convenient and meaningful to them — keeping them connected and secure via a device that’s already an extension of their existence.”
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