Syracuse University installs non-contact palm scanners in dining halls


Syracuse University (SU) has installed biometric palm readers in its five student food centers on campus. The scanners are intended to provide students on meal plans with a contactless verification option during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biometric program is completely optional, so students will still be able to swipe their SU student card to redeem their meals. However, those who opt for the system will be able to go straight to the scanners and skip the queue for those using the more traditional card-based method. Students who wish to register their hands for the fast track system will need to do so during office hours.

The palm scanners themselves are completely non-contact, which mitigates the threat of contagion associated with shared touchpoints. To allay concerns about privacy, SU insisted that it will not collect any images of student palms, and instead capture a mathematical representation of a palm scan. The student’s palm will then be associated with this representation when they arrive at the cafeteria. The representation will also be encrypted, while SU has claimed it cannot be used to reverse engineer someone’s real biometrics.

The palm scanning service is available to all students on an unlimited or bulk meal plan. SU hopes the system will reduce wear and tear on physical SUID cards, which in turn will reduce costs since the school will not need to issue replacement cards as frequently.

While the use of campus palm scanners is relatively new, several universities have tried using mobile identifiers to overhaul their student identification systems. The University of Tennessee, University of Alabama, and Auburn University have all started issuing mobile IDs to their students, and in each case, these mobile IDs can be used to access campus facilities such as as cafeterias and refectories.

Source: CR80 News

September 20, 2021 – by Eric Weiss


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