In many ways, today's school campuses are like miniature cities. And like cities, they must tackle complex safety, transportation and communication challenges. The Internet of Things (IoT) has helped municipalities solve similar challenges, and campus leaders can look to those solutions for innovative approaches to their concerns.
Here's how IoT in education environments can help create safe, connected, communicative campuses.
Challenges facing school campuses
A safe, smart campus is a top priority, but every school faces challenges in creating one. For one, schools are grappling with how best to prevent assaults and other crimes on campus while still maintaining the kind of open, welcoming environment that supports learning and research.
They must also make sense of a torrent of data from surveillance, security and other sources. The sheer volume of data can make it complex and costly to manage and may impede schools' ability to process events in real time and make prompt and informed decisions to keep students, staff and faculty safe. Schools without real-time situational awareness might not be able to respond to issues as they arise, which could impact campus security and, ultimately, the school's reputation.
Schools, particularly those with more than one campus, must also manage transportation and parking, which are essential to the free flow of students, faculty and staff. Limited or remote parking can create unnecessary friction. If students, faculty and staff have to park too far away and cannot get where they're going on time by walking or using campus shuttle buses, for example, the school's ability to fulfill its educational mission may be undermined.
In the long run, campuses might need to implement transportation solutions that meet the evolving needs of the connected, 21st-century campus.
How IoT solutions support a safer, more connected campus
IoT solutions can help schools deliver valuable improvements that enhance campus life. Here are just a few IoT in education examples that illustrate how campuses could benefit.
Much like it is already doing in smart cities, sensor-equipped intelligent lighting could help campuses improve safety by ensuring proper illumination at night. Intelligent lighting could also help control costs and conserve energy—a win-win for schools. Real-time situational awareness solutions can provide comprehensive insight into safety and security issues across the entire campus by tapping data from sources such as video sensors and computer-aided dispatch, helping lean campus IT departments quickly identify and mitigate threats to campus safety.
Schools could also turn to traffic data services to optimize traffic flow in city streets near schools, minimizing congestion during peaks (such as during sporting events and the beginning and end of academic terms) and helping students, faculty and staff travel between locations or campuses more efficiently. Over the long term, the insights unearthed by analyzing traffic data could also highlight opportunities for improving land use and implementing multimodal transportation options that make getting around campus easier.
Similarly, a parking optimization solution could help schools analyze parking usage and alleviate pain points, further improving the experience of getting around campus. And intelligent lighting could help keep parking areas optimally lit to ensure traffic safety and personal safety.