From education to employment

An Intuitive Campus Needs Wireless, But Not As We Know It #FutureofEducation

Richard Atkin, Wifi Wizard, ITGL

My colleague Ben Pammenter mentioned in his last article the importance of creating an integrated, intuitive campus that can transform the student experience.

The intuitive campus uses pre-existing technology to take data from multiple previously-disconnected sources and gives students access to bespoke, real-time information.

Wireless plays a key role in the creation of an ‘Intuitive Campus’. Wireless networks to date have been about providing ‘overlay’ connectivity to a wired infrastructure, and have typically grown organically over time. With the continued explosion of smart devices, wireless devices, and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), this overlay technology is no longer fit for purpose.

With extensive developments in wireless technology, we’re seeing organisations reduce their wired provision in favour of wireless. Students want to use whichever device they choose, and in almost all cases, from wherever they are on campus.

High density wireless allows for spaces and areas of campus to be used for a variety of means, and when large groups of students congregate in an area and all log onto their smart devices, the wireless experience doesn’t falter.

Wireless infrastructure now offers low latency, hyper location functionality. This turns everything on its head, and the ‘traditional’ wireless infrastructure isn’t about high speed, secure connectivity anymore (although this is a must to avoid grumbling end users).

It’s an architecture that can drive extensive business value to the wider organisation, giving the institute key insights from an operational perspective, but allowing the introduction of contextual suggestions for all staff, students, and visitors. We have this experience with applications and technology in our personal lives, so why should stepping onto campus offer a lesser experience?

Every institute is different, however with hyper location and Cisco Eco-System applications, we see three key ‘pillars’ that the intuitive campus architecture can impact:

  1. Better quality of campus life
  2. Economic competitiveness, and
  3. Increased sustainability.

We’ve highlighted some potential use cases below where we see extended business benefit being realised.

This, for us, is the crucial bit – it helps highlight wider business benefit that can be leveraged from other lines of business to address the ‘pillars’ we see above, and the investment starts to show a clear ROI through some of the themes below.

Campus Experience

  • Improving open day attendance and experience by sending contextual reminders to prospective students and nudges to parents and students when on campus.
  • Take the student walking past the library with an overdue book they’ve forgotten to return. Their intuitive campus app would send them a reminder to ensure they remember to drop the book off in time.
  • Getting to class on time, from information on lecture room changes to detailed room directions.
  • Location of assets, printers, and other facilities.
  • Improving capacity planning, showing how many people attend lectures/operational meetings, and using predictive analytics to help people find the right space for their needs. Insights are fed back to Estates & Facilities on space utilisation and use.
  • Real-time information on availability of quiet/busy study areas.
  • Building inclusivity into technology to ensure all students – including those with disabilities – can make the most of their time on campus.
  • Offering a ‘route master’ service, effectively giving people a dedicated campus map. Low latency ‘blue dot’ experience.
  • Or let’s say a lecture gets moved at the last minute. A notification will inform students of this change, with directions to the new room in plenty of time to ensure they don’t arrive late.

Economic Benefits

  • Improving operating costs by using real-time information to use resources more efficiently.
  • Refining building and facilities management systems, from smart cleaning to more efficient buildings
  • Boosting enrolment by having a reputation for providing a brilliant student experience – whether on or off campus
  • Utilising space more effectively to save thousands of pounds in avoidable costs (Cisco Eco partner applications such as Maze Map, Lone Rooftop, Involvio really extend the value of Cisco investment in this area).

Richard Atkin, Wifi Wizard, ITGL

In my next article, I’ll be discussing how to implement a strategy to deliver the kind of Intuitive Campus you want, and how to get there.

About Richard:  I’ve spent my career specialising in scalable, secure, Wireless networks for customers with big estates that support a broad mixture of people and devices. I love my role and the ever-evolving challenge of designing, deploying and supporting solutions that exceed my customers’ requirements is what ITGL is great at.

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