Yale Dining has moved its data and processing to the cloud.
Last summer, Yale Dining began working with CardSmith — a transaction solutions company that serves educational institutions — to migrate information gathered from roughly 14,000 meals per day in the University’s 23 dining institutions onto a cloud-based software.
The shift, which has taken place over several months, has allowed Yale Dining to set up easier meal plan management and enable a “FastTrack” mobile application that provides students with live data about the relative occupancy of dining halls. Other benefits of the new technology include easier credit card reading capacity, improved reporting capabilities, service tracking and integration with the menu management system, Director of Residential Dining Cathy van Dyke said in an email.
“We are always looking at applying new technologies which will help us to deliver better customer service or to run our operations more efficiently,” she said.
Van Dyke said Yale Dining had been working on improving its systems since 2009, but new technology has been introduced on a gradual scale. Components of the new system debuted during 2013 Commencement, and the entire system premiered later in the summer. Still, some transaction capabilities will continue to be integrated to make the system more robust, van Dyke added.
Donna Franklin, vice president of marketing and communications for CardSmith, said in a Feb. 18 statement that in addition to providing the baseline services to Yale, the multi-year agreement includes provisions for customized service, including the “FastTrack” application.
But students have reported mixed experiences with the application, noting that its conveniences can often be overshadowed by some technical inefficiencies.
“I used to just use it to see what the menus were, but after a while I just stopped because the food never was what it actually said it was,” Katayon Ghassemi ’16 said. “It would be sort of accurate, but the one thing I would want would not actually be at the dining hall.”
Some students use the application to decide whether or not to swipe into a dining hall at all. Alirio Demeireles ’15 said he often uses the application to see if he will be greeted with a “good meal or a bad meal” when he enters a dining hall.
Alice Li ’14 said that though she often looks at the application, its listings usually do not change where she decides to eat. Still, she added that the new technology seems like an improvement for Yale Dining.
Adrienne Gau ’17 said the application is helpful in showing how crowded a dining hall will be, but she added that it does not necessarily indicate food quality.
With the new technology, van Dyke said students are now able to access CardSmith’s online meal plan portal, which provides students with their balances, transaction history and Eli Bucks account — an improvement to the home-built website upon which Yale previously relied.
Although van Dyke declined to provide the specific cost incurred from the partnership with CardSmith due to contractual terms, she said the final agreement reflected the eagerness of the vendor to work with Yale.
Yale Dining offers four main meal plan options for undergraduates, including the Anytime Meal Plan, the Full Meal Plan, the Any 14 Meal Plan and the Kosher Meal Plan.