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IoT in education:
Can school
campuses function
like cities?

Author: Rose de Fremery

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.

Key considerations for deploying IoT in education solutions

To have the greatest chance of success, campus supervisors must first envision what their smart campuses will look like. What opportunities can they tap to drive the school's mission forward, and what challenges lie along the path toward their goals? How will progress be measured? Most critically, what network capabilities must they have in place to support their new IoT infrastructure, and what will ongoing maintenance look like over the long term?

A pilot project is a great way to test how IoT in education solutions can deliver their benefits and build the case for larger deployments down the line. Working with a managed services provider with expertise in a smart city or educational environment, IoT initiatives can help schools create a plan that reflects their priorities, address challenges like network management and maintenance, and outline a clear course of action for achieving their goals. An experienced managed services provider could also identify opportunities to innovate using new IoT technologies, helping school officials maximize the value of their investment in smart campus technology.

As these IoT in education examples show, schools that pursue innovative smart campus strategies can address many of the urgent challenges they face today and lay a solid foundation for even more exciting innovations to improve the campus experience in the future.

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