CORDIS
EU research results

CORDIS

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European Education Connectivity Solution

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 232324

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 June 2009

  • End date

    31 May 2011

Funded under:

FP7-SME

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 483 402,10

  • EU contribution

    € 1 001 087,50

Coordinated by:

Onecard Total Solutions Limited

Ireland

Final Report Summary - EECS (European education connectivity solution)

Executive summary:

Increasing numbers of higher education (HE) institutions across Europe are installing campus card systems, but these are often unable to communicate with each other due to a lack of standards and compatibility. This use of isolated, standalone, academic information system (AIS) is now hindering the mobility of academics and students. The 'European education connectivity solution' (EECS) project has investigated a possible solution to this serious problem - the concept of interconnected and interoperable campus card management systems.

Undertaken in the period from June 2009 to May 2011, the EECS project has:

(1) researched the current and potential European campus card market, the current state of the art and future requirements;
(2) applied the research results to develop a design for an integrated, standard-based, EECS Campus Card prototype which includes three component software modules;
(3) built a working EECS prototype and tested the secure transfer and sharing of student records and other information between HE institutions across Europe;
(4) developed a marketing and dissemination plan to inform potential customers of the new concept for campus card systems.

The six consortium members (three small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and three research and technological development (RTD) institutions, located in four European Union (EU) countries) and project beneficiaries are delighted with the results of the EECS project:

- It has successfully developed a prototype for a secure and standardised campus card management system that can serve the unique needs and requirements of European HE institutions.
- The project has shown that academic mobility can be facilitated via by interoperable campus card systems, thus helping to overcome obstacles to the effective exercise of free movement of students and academics and fulfilling one of the main objectives of the 1999 Bologna Declaration.
- The architecture and technical design of the EECS prototype has no comparison, and represents a breakthrough in dealing with the problems of standards and interoperability that have up to now inhibited the development of the campus card market.
- The project has attracted significant interest from suppliers and companies interested in the commercial exploitation of the foreground created.
- It has opened the way for new commercial opportunities by overcoming some of the current barriers to exploitation of the market by the participating SMEs.

The EECS project has thus significantly advanced the state of the art for HE Institution campus card solutions. However, the current EECS Campus Card prototype is not a complete or proven solution - it will require significant further development and demonstration in a live environment before a mature, marketable product will exist. The EECS project partners now intend to seek further assistance through EU funding in order to achieve this goal through a follow-on EECS beta project.

Project context and objectives:

2. Summary description of project context and objectives

2.1 Project context

It is an EU policy (the Bologna Declaration) to create a European space for HE in order to enhance the employability and mobility of citizens and to increase the international competitiveness of European HE.

Student and teacher mobility, along with the promotion of the international cooperation between European universities, is strongly supported by Erasmus programme. This was launched in 1987 as an educational programme (the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) and since 2007 it has become a part of the EU's lifelong learning programme. Erasmus strongly influenced and inspired the establishment of the Bologna Process.

The resulting 'Bologna Declaration' was made by European ministers of education on June 1999; this calls for the elimination of the remaining obstacles to the free mobility of students (including trainees and graduates) and teachers (including researchers and HE administrators). One such obstacle is caused by the operation by European HE institutions of many different campus card systems. The idea of a campus card system is that each teacher or student is issued with a single card or token which can then act as their secure key to access services and / or client applications - both on and off the campus. Modern campus card systems can provide or facilitate a wide range of useful services, including proof of identity, point of sale retailing, library facilities, examination authentication, printing/photocopying, building access and car parking.

Unfortunately, the campus card systems currently in use in the EU (and indeed around the world) tend to be proprietary or highly customised. As a result the campus card system in one HE Institution cannot interact with that in another due to a lack of common standards and technical interoperability. This incompatibility prevents teachers and students from having quick access to basic academic information held in electronic form when they move around the European HE Institution network, thus often requiring paper copies of documents to be carried and generally resulting in considerable management and administrative overheads - which is both inefficient and discourages mobility.

The current state for campus card systems can be described as a 'desert island' paradigm, with isolated, stand-alone, campus card systems that are unable to exchange data between HE Institution's in an efficient and timely manner; whilst the desired future state is interconnected campus card systems that enable the electronic sharing of student and teacher information in a secure and real-time manner. The present and desired future states are shown in figure 1 in the attached PDF.

A key goal of the EECS project was to advance the state of the art for campus card systems towards the desired future state.

Many of the incompatibility and interoperability issues that campus card solutions in the HE sector are currently experiencing have already been resolved in other sectors, for example interoperable smart card technology is now widely used in areas such as commerce, banking, and access control.

The obvious solution to the 'desert island' problem is to introduce interoperable campus smart card based systems at all HE institutions in the EU. However, there are many challenges to be overcome before this can be achieved, including:

(a) the lack of a trans-national research infrastructure for campus card technologies;
(b) a lack of common standards for campus card technologies, either in Europe or world-wide;
(c) the absence of a standard minimum data set for campus card management systems;
(d) no common standards for student/academic information exchange methods;
(e) an inability to develop interoperable interfaces with the academic and non-academic client applications now available because no common standard exists;
(f) language barriers;
(g) the absence of an organised European academic data exchange network, with links to participating campuses;
(h) the high cost of developing a functionally capable campus card system.

The EECS project aimed to find ways of overcome these obstacles. The project was a coordinated trans-national research effort to develop a prototype for an interoperable and standards based campus card system that would meet the needs of HE institutions. This will help to overcome the mobility barriers referred to in the 1999 Bologna Declaration, by allowing HE Institutions to share information using a common identification card that will act as a student's 'electronic key' and enable secured access to a student's records held in databases. The identification card will also enable efficient electronic exchange of data amongst universities and other HE institutions.

The EECS project was implemented by a European consortium comprising of three SMEs and three RTDs from Poland, Croatia, Sweden and Ireland. 2.2 Project objectives

The goals of the EECS project were:

(a) to advance the state of the art for HE Institution campus card solutions;
(b) to support academic mobility by facilitating the secure transfer and sharing of student records and other information between HE Institutions across Europe;
(c) to open the way for new commercial opportunities by overcoming some of the current barriers to exploitation of the market by the participating small and medium sized companies.

In order to achieve these desired goals, the consortium identified four key objectives for the project:

(1) Research the current and potential European campus card market, current state of the art and future requirements
This objective involved research across 100 European HE Institutions to establish current technological state-of-the-art, international standards, specialised needs and requirements and legal and regulatory issues that could have a bearing on the project.

(2) Apply the research results to the design of the modules for an EECS Campus Card prototype
It resulted in the development of the requirements and specifications for three core modules:
- Card applications management system (CAMS): This is the module that manages and maintains all the information required by the various campus applications. Any application requesting information from the CAMS and/or any application updating information to the CAMS does so by using the pre-defined CAMS / card application interface (CAI) messages.
- CAI: CAI is the module that enables standardised integration and interoperability between onsite campus applications (student connectivity module (SCM) as an example) and the CAMS. Using a set of standard pre-defined messages.
- SCM: The objective of SCM is to support international student exchange and is linked with existing AIS and / or other databases containing information necessary for student mobility according to Erasmus and/or other mobility programmes.

(3) Build and test a full working EECS prototype, including the core modules of card management, client application interface, data exchange and information transmission systems
It was necessary to ensure that the three modules (SCM, CAI, CAMS) could integrate successfully to form the completed EECS prototype and to meet the EECS requirements, a number of testing and validation initiatives were put in place. To complete the achievement of this objective, a real life student exchange took place between two HE Institutions and the transfer of the required student information was authenticated by the use of the student's campus card.

(4) Develop a marketing and dissemination plan to inform potential customers of the new campus card system and to allow the SMEs to exploit the project results by increasing product awareness and generating commercial leads for the partner SMEs
Significant dissemination activity took place during the project - in particular involving the European Campus Card Association (ECCA), the American National Association of Campus Card Users (NACCU) conference and at the European University Information System (EUNIS) conference. Although the EECS Project is now formally completed, dissemination and related activities will continue, for example in relation to publications and patents.

Project results:

3.1 Production of scientific and technical results

The EECS was a two year project, commencing on June 2009 and finishing on May 2011. The description of work for the project was structured in to six work packages, each with a number of defined deliverables.

3.2 EECS standard recommendations

From early on in the project it became apparent that the proposed EECS standards needed to be logically aligned with the three EECS prototype modules, i.e.:

- SCM (SCM): This required a standard for the transfer and exchange of Erasmus information between institutions.
- CAI: This required a standard for secure device integration and interoperability with the CAMS.
- CAMS: This required a standard for the import of teacher and student data from existing AIS.

The biggest advantage of the split was that potential users can choose the standard that is needed for their purposes. For example, if a HE institution wants to transfer Erasmus exchange data with other organisations then they can select the SCM standard. If a Vendor wishes to integrate their device or application with other campus card systems they would use the CAI standard. Whilst if a HE institution wants to import existing student data, they could use the CAMS standard.

A mix of the standards can also be used, for example the CAI standard can be used alongside the SCM standard. A solution could then use the CAI to authenticate and authorise a member before permitting the SCM to transfer data from one SCM to another.

3.2.1. SCM standard

This standard describes the parties and procedures necessary for international student exchange, within the context of the required laws and regulations. The detailed implementation of these procedures may be slightly different for any given institutions (depending on the national/local law and regulations), however the standard contains all necessary elements to be in compliance with the Erasmus programme requirements.

The standard includes:

(1) definition of the actors involved in the international student exchange;
(2) a list of documents involved in the international student exchange, serviced by the SCM:
- LLP Bilateral Agreement,
- Erasmus exchange application form;
- transcript of records, TR,
- learning agreement, LA,
- Erasmus Grant Agreement,
- changes to LA (CLA),
- Application for prolongation of mobility period,
- stay confirmation,
- reports.
(3) A list of standard Erasmus procedures supported by the SCM during student exchange:
- management of bilateral agreements,
- application for the exchange,
- student qualification for an exchange,
- grant assignment,
- exchange of documentation between HE institutions.

3.2.2 CAI standard

The key role of the CAI is to provide secure and ease of connectivity 'plug-in' between client applications and the campus card system. This required a relatively complex set of technical standards and protocols to be tightly defined, including:

(1) CAISA: CAI security standard: (a) Secure authentication flow: (i) Secure channel (SC) Initiation;
(ii) SC operation;
(iii) SC termination.
(b) Secure communication protocols (SCP).
(c) Security levels.
(d) SCP1: (i) cryptographic keys;
(ii) secure communication sequence;
(iii) terminate SC (CAI);
(iv) cryptographic Algorithms;
(v) client device static secret keys derivation.
(2) CAI communication standard.
(3) CAI service:
(a) Service contracts: (i) SC request service;
(ii) SC client authentication service;
(iii) SC terminate service;
(iv) request registration service;
(v) basic authentication - authorise card service.
(b) Small payments:
(i) account balance information get account balance service;
(ii) transactional payment (IsTransAllowed - (this is transaction pre-check) and TransDebit service (this is actual transaction)).
(c) Top-up use cases:
(i) TransCredit service (this is adding value to the account).

CAI also supports an extensive list of recognised external standards and protocols, a partial list including:

- SOAP version 1.2
- WSS SOAP message security,
- web services coordination,
- ActiveX Data Objects .NET,
- Oracle Data Provider .NET,
- data encryption standard (DES),
- HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP),
- HTTP Secure (HTTPS),
- EXtensible Markup Language (XML),
- ISO/IEC 19503:2005 XML Metadata Interchange (XMI),
- ISO/IEC 25437:2009 WS-Session,
- ISO/IEC 29361:2008 WS-I Basic Profile Version 1.1
- ISO/IEC 29362:2008 WS-I Attachments Profile Version 1.0
- ISO/IEC 29363:2008 WS-I Simple SOAP binding profile version 1.0
- ISO/IEC 9797 Message Authentication Codes (MACs).

- 3.2.3. AIS / CAMS standard

In the EECS prototype, a CAMS user interface allows for the creation and amendment of a single student or teacher (member). Some of the fields displayed are mandatory, and some are optional.

The creation of a member record in the CAMS database is dependent on the insertion of certain information for the member. To allow the automatic import (insert) of members into the CAMS database from an AIS, the latter must follow - or appear to follow - the same rules and guidelines as if the member was created using the CAMS user interface.

The AIS/CAMS standard thus defines a mechanism for the import in to CAMS of 'Member details' from existing AIS), and from other systems as required. To ensure that the new standard was as flexible as possible in order to cater for the many different AIS applications already in use, CTRC created a survey.

Following on from the survey, and using their own experience of importing from AIS applications, CTRC designed a standardised interface that uses web services to import data into a CAMS database. These web services are provided by adding extensions to the CAI standard, and work using SOAP over HTTPS. The new messages are:

- AddMemberDetailsReq: Add member details CAMS request message.
- AddMemberDetailsResp: Add member details CAMS response message.

An AIS application can invoke the AddMemberDetailsReq message to import a member into the CAMS database and validate the result from the response message AddMemberDetailsResp. The SOAP message calls do not have to undergo the same Secure Channel setup as a transactional device, but are required to authorise using username and passwords in order to be allowed to submit member's details to a CAMS system.

3.3 Technical specifications

3.3.1 System Architecture

Objective 2 of the EECS project was to design an EECS Campus Card prototype. Key characteristics of the adopted solution include:

(a) flexible and modular system architecture;
(b) conformance to a set of recommended standards agreed with the ECCA in order to ensure interoperability and interconnectivity;
(c) use of a common identification card that acts as an 'electronic key';
(d) provides controlled access by academics and students to a range of campus services;
(e) enables the sharing of information and access to a student's records held in secure databases;
(f) translates information stored on one campus card into a common format based on European standards.

The adopted architecture required the EECS Project to develop three new core software modules, namely:

(1) CAMS: This is the module that manages and maintains all the information required by the various campus applications. Any application requesting information from the CAMS and / or any application updating information to the CAMS does so by using the pre-defined CAMS / CAI messages.
(2) CAI: CAI is the module that enables standardised integration and interoperability between onsite campus applications (SCM as an example) and the Card Application Management System (CAMS), using a set of standard pre-defined messages.
(3) SCM - SCM: The objective of SCM is to support international student exchange and is linked with existing AIS and / or other databases containing information necessary for student mobility according to Erasmus and / or other mobility programmes.

The EECS system architecture is of decentralised type. There is no single server for student information processing as the data protection policies of most European countries do not permit data storage and processing on the territory of another country. Thus the cooperating university servers communicate with each other on a peer-to-peer basis. This solution reduces the costs of EECS deployment (no investments in common servers are required) and offers good scalability (demand for a common server computational efficiency would increase with the number of HE Institutions connected to it). The public key infrastructure is used for university server's mutual verification, with trusted X.509 certificates (e.g. issued by VeriSign, Thawte, etc.).

The technical architecture of the three core modules is described further in the following subsections.

3.3.2 CAMS

The core of the EECS Prototype is the CAMS. The CAMS processes information requests from a card user - in a full production system these requests would relate to the use of a wide range of facilities and services across the campus: The CAMS includes the main 'back-end' database, in the EECS prototype this can run on either an Oracle or a Microsoft SQL*Server database server. The CAMS database contains the following information:

(a) user / member records;
(b) tokens and purses information;
(c) devices and application information;
(d) transactional validation and logic procedures;
(e) CAI procedures to access the above.

The database is divided into a number of schemas in Oracle, or separate databases in SQL*Server. These include the main 'CAMS' schema, which contains the database tables representing the core concepts and objects described in the sections below. This schema also contains a set of stored procedures that contain the systems functional and transactional logic.

The CAMS core database communicates with the current AIS in order to pull the relevant student information into the necessary tables. This can be achieved automatically via scripting at scheduled intervals. Data can also be fed back to the AIS from CAMS to update student information if necessary, e.g. student photos. Once inside the CAMS database, the AIS data can be used by the card production system.

The card production system links directly with the CAMS database in order to obtain all student information required for card/token production and personalisation, e.g. student name, photo. Once a token has been produced and personalised, a student can begin to use various applications managed by the CAI. The CAI is a layer that lies between the core CAMS database and the system's client applications. The interface facilitates all requests from client devices (CDs) that need to communicate with the CAMS database, e.g. for authorisation and charging.

The CAMS is responsible for storing information and interfacing with client applications. This is again achieved through the CAI, which invokes procedures in the CAMS database. Client applications are able to perform a number of functions through the CAI, such as debiting and crediting member accounts using purses and authenticating members using tokens. The CAMS handles all logic related to these functions, both in the communication with the CAI and the core transaction logic for purse / money operations.

The web reporting tool is an important part of the CAMS system. It allows for the retrieval and creation of various reports on the central database. This tool is web based and connects directly to the database to provide reports in a variety of formats. Examples include keeping track of user's transactions, card production auditing, and device totals.

The Administration Software allows for configuration of the complete CAMS database. This is achieved through a user-friendly graphical interface in the form of an executable 'Desktop' application. Operations that can be performed include adding devices, suspending users, and assigning tokens.

3.3.3 The CAI module

The CAI, a module inside the EECS solution, provides users with a range of specific services (library eligibility, access control, vending, parking, etc.) as illustrated below. The CAI provides key functionality for CDs to connect to the central system and perform one or more operations. This module provides easy integration of existing application-specific CDs as well as the integration of new use-cases and functionalities into the overall EECS campus card system.

The main principle is that all communication is event based and follows exchange of standardised device independent request/reply messages. In the majority of use cases, the readout of the card data initiates a request for service.

Data is exchanged using well known industry standards thus allowing the majority of CDs to be easily modified to integrate with the system. This module will provide an interface for application devices to communicate securely with CAMS, to provide a range of specific services (library eligibility, access control, vending, parking, etc).

The CAI Module is a middle-layer component of the EECS system with the primary purpose of bridging the gap between a large number of small CDs that present a real-world interface towards consumers of various services, and back-end systems controlling the system functionality and service provision.

Consequently, the CAI provides key functionality for client applications or the SCM to connect to the CAMS and perform one or more operations. The main principle behind the CAI layer, sitting in the middle between the client applications (which includes the SCM module) and CAMS, is that all the communication follows the exchange of standardised, device independent request / reply messages. These messages are categorised into functional, application-specific clusters that can be easily updated with new functions and applications. CDs perform the functional request to CAMS through the CAI layer. This request is processed by the CAI and if the request for service is authorised it is then forwarded to the CAMS.

Based on the service configuration, CAI can communicate with one or more applications allowing integration with many existing systems. Once the CAMS authorises the service, the message is passed back to the originating application. Data is exchanged using well known industry standards thus allowing the majority of applications to be easily modified and integrated into the system. This way, in addition to enabling the easy integration of new applications, the overall system is security sensitive and protected from unauthorised accesses.

3.3.4 SCM

The SCM is a web-based application designed to feature all the information processing, exchange and storage functions necessary to support student mobility by cooperating Institutions. The objective of SCM is to support the international student exchange. In its prototype, proof-of-concept version, it is based on the rules of the Erasmus programme framework. The module can be easily modified to assist in student exchanges under other frameworks, e.g. between Institutions of a single country.

The SCM can retrieve information from an existing AIS or other databases that contain data needed for student exchanges (defined in Erasmus and / or other mobility programme procedures). SCM is an application which communicates with the CAMS by the use of the CAI. Authentication and authorisation of users (staff or students) is performed by CAMS using an authentication token (AT) (e.g. smart card). SCM module receives data from the HE Institution database (not from the AT itself).

3.5 EECS prototype

3.5.1 Module development

The three software modules - CAMS, CAI and SCM - that would form the EECS Campus Card prototype were independently developed by different teams, and then subjected to unit and module testing.

Each RTD was responsible for the unit / module testing of their assigned module for development. It was their responsibility to ensure that their module was 'fit for purpose' and would meet the technical and functional requirements for the EECS prototype.

Each of the RTDs created test scripts for their own modules. Unit/module testing was undertaken in a staged approach. When code was developed and ready for testing it was handed over to the testers, who then validated that the code was stable and met the requirements.

3.5.2 Integration of EECS prototype

Once unit/module testing was concluded, the modules were integrated in to the complete EECS prototype - a product that would allow secure academic information transfer between European HE Institutions and enable interoperability between campus card systems using the proposed EECS standards.

The integration of the CAI, CAMS and SCM modules was performed on a staged basis. It was essential that the CAI and CAMS would integrate successfully for other client applications to work. A priority was put on the integration and testing of the CAI / CAMS stage, so that any issues could be identified and resolved in time for the integration of SCM.

3.5.3 Testing and validation of EECS prototype

The completed EECS Campus Card prototype was then subjected to an extensive programme of testing and validation in order to prove that it was operating successfully and was ready for user trials at Technical University of Lodz (TUL), Poland and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Ireland. This included:

Stage 1 - Validation: Early integration testing between CAI and CAMS modules

- Established the progress of CAI, CAMS.
- Validated that the CAI and CAMS modules would integrate successfully.
- Validated that the CAI / CAMS procedures would allow integration and interoperability and form part of the EECS standards.
- Validated that the security encryption for devices was operational between CAI/CAMS.
- Validated the robustness of CAMS database.

Stage 2 - Validation: Module demonstration

- Demonstrated and validated module functionality developed to-date.
- Demonstrated and validated an integrated interoperable device.

Stage 3 - Validation: Integration and interoperable testing

- Validated work completed to date on the modules SCM, CAI, CAMS.
- Validated interoperability of a dummy device using a defined standard.

Stage 4 - Validation: Pre-trial testing / validation

- Verified that the trial applications were ready.
- SCM and CAMS databases setup and initialised with required trial default data.
- Card readers were checked to ensure they were fully operational.

No major issues arose during the pre-trial testing and validation, and the integrated EECS prototype was now ready for user trials.

3.5 End-user trials

Following the completion of the integrated EECS Campus Card prototype, it was necessary to complete testing and demonstration to ensure the prototype was capable of meeting the overall objectives of the EECS project. This involved building an integrated test platform solution to conduct inter-partner trials seeking to validate system interoperability and standards of the complete EECS prototype.

This included the following trials:

- WIT trial 1: SCM user trial scenario for TUL exchange student.
- WIT trial 2: Library user trial scenario for TUL exchange student.
- WIT trial 3: Web value load trial scenario for TUL exchange student.
- WIT trial 4: Vending user-trial scenario for TUL exchange student.
- TUL trial 1: SCM user trial scenario for WIT exchange student.
- TUL trial 2: Class attendance user trial for WIT exchange student.
- TUL trial 3: Library service user trial for WIT exchange student.

The user trial process involved the following:

Live trials at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) Ireland - Three Students from the Technical University of Lodz (TUL), in Poland, travelled to WIT and participated in the following four live trials while on campus:

- SCM (SCM - TUL Student Erasmus Exchange),
- Library Module (Book Loan for the TUL exchange student),
- Web value load (Top-Up money to the TUL exchange students CAMS account),
- Vending (Allow TUL student purchase product at WIT using their TUL university card).
The RTD partner CTRC was responsible for coordinating the above live trials at WIT.

Live Trials at the TUL, Poland - Two Students from WIT in Ireland travelled to TUL and participated in the following three live trials while on campus:

- SCM (SCM - WIT Student Erasmus Exchange),
- Library Module (Book Loan for the WIT exchange student),
- Class Attendance (Logging of student attendance in class).

The RTD partner TUL was responsible for coordinating the above live trials at TUL in Poland.

The results of the successful testing can be summarised as follows:

User trials at WIT

Trial 1: SCM
- The purpose of this trial was to demonstrate the viability of transferring information between European HE Institutions and the interoperability of campus card systems using the proposed EECS standards.
- Results: The TUL 'Student A' successfully completed all the trial steps and milestones

Trial 2: WIT web value load (funds top-up)
- Using the proposed EECS standards, this trial demonstrated the secure authentication and 'top-up' of a student's purse via the CAI / CAMS.
- Results: Using the proposed EECS standard, the Web Value Load trial application (via CAI/CAMS) securely did the following:

(a) athenticated TUL 'Student A' student card;
(b) retrieved the total balance of TUL 'Student A' purse;
(c) credited TUL 'Student A' general purse with EUR 10 funds.

Trial 3: WIT Library Trial
- The purpose of the library trial was to prove that using the TUL student card and the EECS standards, TUL 'Student A' could access the services of WIT library.
- Results: This trial demonstrated that an exchange student using their existing student card could use the services (such as library) of another university. This library trial proved that using the EECS standards, a student could access services of another HE Institution (mobility) and also proved the interoperability of the student cards.

Trial 4: WIT vending trial
- The purpose of the vending trial was to demonstrate how a student could visit another HE Institution and purchase products using their existing student card. This trial also demonstrated the use of split payments in the CAMS.
- Results: The vending trial proved that using the proposed EECS standards, a student could travel to another HE Institution and purchase products using their existing student card hence the viability of student mobility and card interoperability.

User Trials at TUL

Trial 1: TUL SCM
- The purpose of this trial was to demonstrate the viability of transferring information between European HE Institution and the interoperability of campus card systems using the proposed EECS standards.
- Results: The SCM tests showed the compliance of implemented student exchange procedures with Erasmus Lifelong Learning Programme standards and demonstrated correct operation of the module.

Trial 2: TUL library trial
- The objective of the Library Service trial was to verify if the WIT students would be able to get access to TUL library services with the use of their WIT student card.
- Results: The Library trial proved that the EECS prototype and proposed standard facilitates foreign student's access to campus services using campus cards issued by their home university, without the need to issue additional cards for the visiting student.

Trial 3: Class attendance trial
- The goal of this trial was to check if the class attendance application, integrated with the TUL CAI / CAMS authentication/authorisation service could be successfully used for both TUL and WIT students (WIT students using their home university student ID cards) to sign in and sign out for their classes while at TUL.
- Results: The trial was successful - Class attendance application worked as expected, WIT students were successfully authorised, no problems or errors were found and no recommendations submitted.

The successful integration, testing and demonstrations that took place between September 2010 and March 2011 proved that the EECS prototype was capable of meeting the objectives of the EECS project.

3.6 Marketing, dissemination and intellectual property right (IPR) handover to SMEs for exploitation

3.6.1 Market Research

The EECS Project made provision for market research in 20 third level institutions in Europe with the aim of investigating the current and future needs for a standard European campus card. However this work was extended to a total of 100 third-level institutions throughout Europe - a fivefold increase on the original projected number of participants. As the project developed and word spread about what the project was endeavouring to deliver more and more HE institutions expressed a desire to participate and be involved. The consortium partners also decided that a more extensive research programme that included the United States was necessary and beneficial in order to get an accurate understanding of campus card requirements, and the current state of the art.

It is evident from the research that HE institutions require a standard European campus card which is multi-functional and will facilitate mobility and interoperability. With over 4 000 HE Institutions in Europe there is significant potential for the SMEs as over 80 % of the respondents in the survey indicated they would use a standard campus card. Other findings from the research conducted include:

(a) the most common technology is the contactless chip;
(b) campus cards provide access to a range of facilities including, library, copying and exam ID;
(c) a high percentage would require the card to operate as a payment solution;
(d) interoperability was highlighted as a requirement;
(e) institutions will consider purchasing a standardised card solution from an outside supplier.

These findings confirmed that the EECS project is pursuing the correct objectives, and that the envisaged functionality and technologies incorporated in to the prototype are those being demanded by the market and prospective customers.

3.6.2 Legal and regulatory aspects

Our research found that student mobility is one of the more important issues of EU policy aimed to build the European HE area. The main framework which governs this activity is the Erasmus education and training programme. This programme defines and introduces regulations of student exchange in accordance with European Commission (EC) directives. National agencies, being Erasmus representatives in member countries, implement these procedures considering national law. The Universities, which organise the international exchange, add its own rules and regulations. Thus, it can be stated that legal and regulatory aspects of student mobility (both for going and coming from abroad) are based mainly on EU law, taking into consideration national requirements (mainly defined by the Ministry of HE and / or other educational agencies).

At an operational level, rules introduced by the particular HE Institutions also play an important role in relation to mobility. There are a number of departments participating in the student mobility and the student exchange process. Each stage of the student mobility is governed by particular regulations - during the EECS project the mobility procedures that were in force at TUL, Linköping University, University of Zagreb, and WIT were considered.

Some Institutions already use the software that facilitates the management of students mobility, e.g. all Croatian universities implement the Informacijski Sustav Visokih Ucilišta (ISVU) HE information system, and HE institutions worldwide are registered in the Moveon (see http://www.moveonet.eu online for further details) database. Based on inquiries performed at the TUL and Linköping University Erasmus Offices, there is a strong demand of the specific software supporting formal procedures related to student mobility (like on-line recruitment, collecting documents, candidates evaluation), at least for internal use. Development of such software requires careful analysis of the role of all parties involved in the student mobility, definition of the necessary procedures and consideration of related local university regulations. These steps must be repeated for each university involved in student mobility actions.

Overall, no legal barriers to the EECS project were found. The legal and regulatory research established that the legal and regulatory aspects of student mobility are governed by EU law, National law and the regulations of individual HE institutions, particularly as they apply to Erasmus exchange programmes.

3.6.3 IPR handover

The EECS project found that there is little existing IP for campus card systems and in particular in the area of the core modules being developed by the EECS.

Whilst significant foreground IP was developed in the EECS project - in particular the prototype European Campus Card - it was not considered practical to apply for patents as the underlying concepts were still evolving and the rapid pace of technology change would quickly render any patent obsolete. Instead a set of strict controls was put in place to protect the confidentiality of the IP.

At the conclusion of the EECS project, the three SME members of the consortium made a formal agreement to secure the IPR until such time as a marketable product is in prospect. The key points of the agreement are:

- The SMEs agreed that the Project Intellectual Property developed during the EECS Project is jointly owned between them.
- The SMEs intend to work together again for the purpose of further developing the EECS commercially.
- The SMEs are currently engaged in a progress to establish a structure to protect the IPR and the rights of each SME to the IPR. An outline of an agreement has been agreed upon by the SMEs and they have engaged a law firm, Reddy Charlton McKnight, Solicitors & European Trademark Attorneys, 12 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland (see http://www.rcmck.com online for further details) to formally draft and implement the agreement. This agreement will take effect from 1 August 2011, in the meantime the IP will be held by the project coordinator OCS, as agreed by all three SMEs.

It is also expected that the practicability and benefits of obtaining patent(s) will be revisited once the EECS prototype has been successful up scaled and demonstrated in a live environment.

Potential impact:

4.1 Exploitation of results

The EECS project has successfully developed a prototype for a secure and standardised campus card management system that can demonstrably serve the unique needs and requirements of European HE Institutions.

Whilst the EECS project has leveraged many existing technologies (e.g. smart cards, contact and contactless interfaces, card readers, communication protocols, authentication mechanisms) - the overall solution design concept has no comparison. For example, the CAI and SCM are novel systems unique to the EECS Project and represent a breakthrough in dealing with the problems of standards and interoperability that have up to now inhibited the development of the campus card market. The project has thus significantly advanced the concept of interconnected and interoperable campus card management systems located across Europe.

The completed EECS Project has provided the basis for an integrated campus card solution which can be exploited by the SME partners. The SMEs are aware, through their membership of ECCA, its sister organisation NACCU in the United States of America (USA) and feedback from their dissemination efforts to date, of considerable international interest in the EECS project. This interest is not confined to HE institutions only, but extends to second level schools, hospitals and other operations that require secure access control, movement of data and connectivity with client applications. The project has also attracted considerable interest from suppliers. This adds to the viability of the EECS concepts and their potential will continue to be explored with the completion of the EECS project.

It is, however, recognised that the EECS Campus Card prototype is not a complete solution and it will require significant further development and testing in a live environment before a mature, marketable product will exist. The project partners intend to seek further assistance through EU funding in order to achieve this goal.

4.2 Commercialisation

With regards to future commercial use of an EECS based solution, the support and interest of ECCA membership in the project is of vital importance. ECCA members have been enthusiastic in expressing their interest, and during the EECS Project the following HE institutions expressed their willingness to acquire and use the foreground subject to normal commercial negotiations:

- Goteborg University, Sweden
- Linkoping University, Sweden
- University of Lodz, Poland
- Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.

The EECS prototype, and in particular the standardised CAI, has also attracted significant business interest. Many companies contacted the EECS Project with a view to establishing a commercial relationship using the foreground being developed. These included:

- Evolis, a French company which specialises in the production of Card printers,
- Datacard, a US company which also specialises in the production of Card Printers and ID Cards,
- POS Vendors including, CBE & Retail Solutions,
- Carta Solutions, a Canadian company which specialises in pre-paid credit and debit card systems,
- Salto, a Spanish company which specialises in networked access control,
- ColorID, a US company who are a leading supplier of high quality identification products and services,
- Monitor Business Machines, New Zealand who creates seamless print and transaction management solutions,
- ITC Systems, Canada is an international company specialising in Integrated Control Systems,
- Wireless Everywhere Print Anywhere (WEPA) is a new cloud printing service,
- Xerox is the global leader in document management, offering the widest range of technology, consulting services and solutions in the industry.

Whilst the current EECS prototype is too immature for any immediate or direct commercial exploitation to be possible, the potential for such exploitation in the future has thus already been shown.

4.3 Potential impacts

If the standards and technologies demonstrated in the EECS Project are incorporated into operational systems that are used by HE Institution's around Europe, then this will greatly facilitate the free movement of students and academics, thus helping to fulfil one of the main objectives of the 1999 Bologna Declaration.

Other potential impacts associated with the exploitation of the outputs of the EECS Project include:

(a) contribute to the provision of a cashless and paperless digital society;
(b) facilitate access to a wide range of on-campus services;
(c) ease integration of client application providers products into current campus card systems;
(d) service non-education campus environments such as hospitals, international agencies, multinational companies and military bases - particularly where organisations have a number of widely distributed locations whose interconnection is desirable;
(d) impact on employment, in comparison with the situation before this project, particularly:
(i) increasing employment - employment effect of approximately 8 full-time equivalent jobs created and potential for more associated with further development;
(ii) safeguarding employment;
(iii) creating employment within small to medium enterprises, and potential to further expand.

4.4 Potential benefits to HE Institutions

There are about 4 000 HE institutions (including universities, institutes of technology, and polytechnics) in the EU. Relatively few of these currently have campus card systems, for example, only 25 % of Irish and 35 % of Polish Institutions have such as system - compared to 75 % in the USA.

The business case is of fundamental importance when an institution attempts to justify the installation of a campus card system - be it new or a replacement for an existing AIS. The campus card system must generate income in order to cover implementation and maintenance costs, and ideally make a contribution to HE Institutes funds. The majority of successful card systems across Europe and the USA are business driven, reducing campus administration costs and generating considerable additional income for the campuses. As HE Institutes strive to deliver the most modern and cost effective services for their communities, a business driven multi-function standardised card system is the key to this progress.

A good business case involves evaluation and analysis of all possible income and expenditure. Controlling the runaway costs of printing is one of the examples of cost saving and revenue generation. With the rapid growth of printing in campuses, the introduction of pay-for-print is a very good example of the use of campus card technology as a cashless payment method. Indeed printing is now becoming a key revenue generator for many campuses across Europe. Research shows that introducing a small fee for printing and photocopying services that are accessed via a campus card system will reduce waste, and in a HE institute with just 5 000 students can generate a profit of up to EUR 200 000 per annum.

Another benefit of modern campus card systems is that they enable HE Institutions to implement on-campus business enterprises. Currently, the vast majority of European HE Institutions are publicly funded; however, the consortium of the EECS project aims to assist campuses on becoming more commercially viable in order to supplement their public funding.

The experience of the consortium SMEs is that a HE institution investing in a Campus Card System will see a return on their investment after just two to three years use .

4.5 Main Dissemination Activities

4.5.1 Dissemination

The emphasis of the dissemination activities for the EECS Project focused on long term market development rather than short term promotion. The dissemination activities were intended to:

(a) make HE Institutions, the educational community and the business community aware of the existence and development of the EECS product;
(b) ensure that there was ongoing reporting and presentation of the work of the EECS project to all interested parties;
(c) foster interest and cooperation in the area of interoperable campus card systems.

The main communication and dissemination channels were as follows:

- EECS website: http://www.eecscard.eu
The EECS project had a single website which was controlled and updated by the project leaders; providing news and updates on the project progress quarterly throughout the lifecycle of the project. In addition, the website supported the electronic dissemination of project deliverables, newsletters, papers, brochures. The information included on the website was available to the wider community and market players to encourage maximum participation.

- Consortium websites
The websites of consortium members' websites were used to disseminate the project news and updates on the project progress, either through the use of links to the project website or on its own website. This widened dissemination to the consortium members, community and individual countries.

- Card associations: ECCA, NACCU, CCCW
Through the project leader, the consortium provided frequent updates to the key card associations for websites, newsletters, magazines, etc.

- Workshops
Throughout the project lifecycle, consortium members organised workshops as a means of dissemination.

- Conferences / events
The progress and results of the EECS project were reported at international events, conferences and educational fairs. The following is a sample of the major events at which EECS Project information was disseminated during the project:
(i) ECCA Conferences,
- NACCU USA conferences,
- EUNIS conferences,
- Canadian Campus Card Workshop (CCCW).
This was also supported by individual consortium members identifying appropriate seminars and conferences for dissemination.

- Journals / trade publications / papers / magazines / e-outlets
There was dissemination through EuroSmart, ETSI, E-Forum, ETHEL, Java Card Forum, Global Platform, plus local outlets in the consortium partners own regions.

- Consultations
SME partners engaged in close consultations with interested parties, their current customer database, potential customers, relevant associations and other bodies to ensure that the project was promoted as effectively as possible, and that opportunities were identified.

The use of ECCA has been a key channel in the dissemination process as it has provided various mediums for exploitation of the results. The mediums used are as follows:

(a) ECCA magazine;
(b) ECCA website;
(c) mailshots;
(d) annual conferences - exhibition stand and presentations;
(e) membership;
(f) local chapter meetings.

4.5.2 Marketing

In addition to the approximately 4 000 HE institutions (including Universities, Institutes of Technology, and Polytechnics) in the EU, there are about 6 000 post second level education organisations (including colleges of further education and medical schools). Together, these account for very large potential target market for the EECS consortium SMEs.

Towards the latter stages of the EECS project, a marketing and dissemination plan was developed to inform potential customers of the new campus card system, and to allow SMEs to exploit the project results by increasing product awareness and generating sales leads for the partner SMEs.

Each of the SME project partners also identified potential customers, in their own countries and in the wider European region, which they targeted with specific marketing and demonstration drives. These were based on practical demonstrations of the EECS product in the individual campus environment, and also at conferences and site visits in order to demonstrate not only its flexibility and interoperability but also its ability to align with local requirements.

Although the EECS Project has now concluded, the marketing and dissemination activities will continue. The SME partners will individually promote the new technology to its target markets in order to grow their businesses. The ECCA will continue to promote the project results in the European marketplace to potential end users, and will work through NACCU and EUNIS to maximise the demand for the product in target markets in Europe and the USA.

List of websites: http://www.eecscard.eu

OneCard Solutions Ltd
105-106 IDA Business Park
Waterford
Ireland
Tel: +353 51 306226
Email: info@onecard.ie
Contacts: Barry Kennedy/Kate Kelly

University of Zagreb
FER
Sveuciliste u Zagrebu, Fakultet elekrotehnike i racunarstva
Unska 3
10000 Zagreb
Croatia
Tel: +38-516-129759
Contact: Vedran Mornar, Dean

OPTeam SA
Lisa Kuli 3
Rzeszow
35-032
Poland
Tel: +48-178-672177
Email: jblahut@opteam.pl
Contact: Jacek Blahut

Mecenat
Box 11 215
404 25 Goteborg
Sweden
Tel: +46-317-013063

Email: mats.fredrikson@mecenat.se
Contacts: Jonas Levin/Mats Fredrikson

Technical University of Lodz (TUL)
Politechnika Lodzka
ul Zeromskiego 116
90-924 Lodz
Poland
Tel: +48-426-312631
Email: mstrzel@p.lodz.pl
Contacts: Stanislaw Bielecki, Jadwiga Machnicka

Card Technology Research Center (CTRC)
Campus Services
Waterford Institute of Technology
Cork Road
Waterford
Ireland
Tel: +35-351-302072
Email: emckenna@wit.ie
Contacts: Eugene McKenna

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 232324

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 June 2009

  • End date

    31 May 2011

Funded under:

FP7-SME

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 483 402,10

  • EU contribution

    € 1 001 087,50

Coordinated by:

Onecard Total Solutions Limited