Richard Atkin, Wifi Wizard, ITGL

Throughout this series of articles and videos we have spoken about the innovative services that the Intuitive Campus can power.

We have shown how the Innovative Campus can benefit the students, researchers, staff, and visitors that use your environment every day, by being more creative with the data and infrastructure at your disposal.

In this article we will look at some of the organisation-wide considerations that must be addressed before you can realise the benefits of the Intuitive Campus.

Vision

The Intuitive Campus is an amazing place that looks different for everybody.

It is not a single thing but a collection of complementary benefits, implemented iteratively, powered by technology, facilitated by data, and driven by new ideas and big thinking.

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve with your Intuitive Campus vision, accept you won’t get there in one go, and support those around you to do an excellent job.

While building our Intuitive Campus proposition, we assessed the sector’s readiness to adopt its principles. We looked at the ecosystem of technologies and companies that provide relevant capabilities and we reviewed over a dozen different university IT & digital strategies; mainly from the UK but also from other English-speaking countries.

It is apparent to us that the industry and technology is available today to power even the most ambitious Intuitive Campus programmes. The readiness of universities to move towards the Intuitive Campus and a more integrated, data-led, student-centric environment however, varies hugely.

For those who have already put effort in to organising and consolidating their data and systems, the Intuitive Campus provides an opportunity to capitalise on that work to enhance your on-campus experience, to improve the student experience and to provide improved student welfare services through your improved insight.

For those who still have siloed systems and disparate, disjointed data within their organisations, an aspiration to move towards an Intuitive Campus may provide the required motivation to start implementing change by improving the systems, processes and data that keep your establishment running.

Data, data, data!

Many of the inputs and outputs you have seen from the Intuitive Campus concern data.

People, buildings, rooms, applications, infrastructure, booking systems, telephones, printers, car parking spots, lights (and so on, and so on) all have the potential to produce or ingest huge amounts of data; data that could be useful to other systems within the Intuitive Campus.

For these systems to interact effectively, the need for accurate, accessible, consistent, secure and well-documented data cannot be understated.

To develop your organisation into a place where programmatic data sharing and integration is a reality, consider adopting FAIR data principals across your entire estate.

FAIR data is:

Findable – Uniquely identifiable, tagged with rich Meta data and searchable
Accessible – Retrievable, secure, and accessible using universal protocols
Interoperable – Well structured, using common formats
Reusable – Includes context, is suitably licensed, has clear usage policies

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In the worlds of IT and IS this means adopting systems and processes that:

  • Promote consistency of data between systems
  • Are equipped with secure, accessible, well documented APIs
  • Use APIs based on common protocols like REST
  • Use data and metadata in a common, structured format like JSON or XML

Only once you have structured, relatable, consistent, accessible data will you be able to reap the rewards from it. Data that is inconsistent, inaccessible, and isolated has virtually no role to play in the Intuitive Campus.

The importance of leadership

Universities and large college groups often adopt siloed systems and practices, sometimes for political reasons, sometimes for organisational necessity, and sometimes as a legacy of times gone by.

Whatever the reason, be conscious that siloed, inconsistent, decentralised systems and practices can lead to similarly siloed and inconsistent data which is counter to the FAIR data principals.

To prevent bad practices from hampering your Intuitive Campus, the most senior leaders from across your organisation must buy in to the Intuitive Campus concepts and commit themselves and their resources to supporting it.

To garner this kind of programme sponsorship you must put significant effort into developing the use cases, business cases, success criteria, benefits (and so on) that will result from the works.

In some cases, the changes you need to impose may mean changing established strategies or it may mean significant upheaval for some parts of your business as they adapt to new systems or working practices.

Providing you have the right business justifications in place, the short-term disruption experienced by some will be offset by the long term benefits the Intuitive Campus brings to huge number numbers of people.

Flexibility

Developing and adding entirely new services to your organisation is likely to require teams to work together in ways they perhaps never have.

The ability to share ideas, to collaborate, to create something genuinely new, and to have a shared sense of ownership is important when you are starting afresh.

If you have yet to explore Agile working practises and a DevOps mentality, these are both likely to play a major part in your success.

Take away

Three key points to take away to help you on your journey towards the Intuitive Campus:

  1. Vision. What is the point of your Intuitive Campus dream? What problems are your trying to address and why?
  2. FAIR data. Are your systems equipped with APIs that you understand, that you can stream data from, and that make it easy for you to integrate data from different, complimentary systems?
  3. Plan big. Is your whole organisation committed to the Intuitive Campus and will they allow this commitment to influence their thinking? People, procurement, processes, systems, and services may all need to change. Are you ready to drive change across your organisation for the greater good?

Richard Atkin, Wifi Wizard, ITGL

In my next article, I’ll be discussing how 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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