Latest trends IHLs are adopting
to enable Smart Campus

23 November 2018

For all the focus on smart cities as the engines of economic growth, another topic that is increasingly being talked about is smart campuses. A smart campus entails the deployment of technological solutions and services to improve everyday experiences within an institute of higher learning (IHL), as well as to better support learning outcomes.

Understanding Smart Campus

At the National University of Singapore (NUS), planners are tapping into crowd data and using it to build 3D models to better understand how the spaces are used to design better facilities. To improve the quality of life on campus, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore was reported earlier this year as using technology embedded within new matriculation cards, not just for identification, but to facilitate access to classrooms and offices and contactless payments. 

There are many more practical strategies that can improve the everyday experience within a Smart Campus, limited only by the imagination. This ranges from improving crowd management and the design and installation of suitable facilities by monitoring their use and student footfall throughout the campus. For instance, Nanyang Polytechnic implemented a location-based system that can even guide students and visitors to their desired destination across the campus.

Security can also be substantially improved with the availability of real-time data from extensive sensors. These could be correlated with video feeds from security cameras to quickly identify and thwart serious security incidents, or to deter shenanigans from students. Indeed, at least one campus in India uses biometrics-operated turnstiles to keep intruders out and for classroom access.

When it comes to supporting learning environments, a high school in Hangzhou, China uses facial recognition to automatically register class attendance and track the performance of individual students. Aa Smart Campus allows can also allow students to easily leverage digital equipment such as visualisers and projectors for collaboration straight from their laptops and smartphones. Meanwhile, academic staff and program coordinators can tap into an extensive network of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and digitalization efforts to gain a real-time overview of students’ academic performance. This translates into actionable insights that can be used to optimise future runs of a course or used to counsel students who may be lagging their mates.


Connecting the Smart Campus

How would large numbers IoT sensors be connected across the large grounds of an IHL? While it makes sense for high throughput devices such as IP cameras to be physically wired, the sheer breadth and types of these devices make wireless connectivity the logical road forward. But despite the pervasive use of Wi-Fi in modern campuses, its comparatively high-power consumption and the sheer density of Wi-Fi end-user devices make it a poor choice. Moreover, it makes sense to leverage frequency bands that are less prone to congestion or inadvertent interference.

This leaves Smart Campuses with specialised RF (Radio Frequency) technologies such as SigFox, Silver Spring Network, Ingenu and ZigBee, or upcoming mobile technologies designed specifically to support IoT such as Long Term Evolution for Machines, or LTE-M, and NarrowBand Internet of Things, also known as NB-IoT. Designed to support IoT devices across a large area, they form the bedrock of these interconnected devices which are often equipped with minimal processing capabilities.

While the ultimate decision will likely depend on existing deployments and use cases, it is worth noting that mobile network solutions such as NB-IoT offers improved reliability over technologies such as Wi-Fi due to the ability to guarantee resource allocation through Quality of Service (QoS).


Choosing the right partner

Similar to the nascent state of Smart Cities, we are still in the early days of Smart Campuses. Tried and tested IoT solutions that can be quickly deployed and easily integrated as part of the Smart Campus vision can hence bolster the chances of success. While some development work and the need for pilot tests may be unavoidable, working with partners that have the requisite expertise and capabilities can help IHL realize their Smart Campus vision sooner rather than later.

For a start, the importance of the network undergirding the IoT devices should not be overlooked, whether mobile or non-mobile based, with the former offered by StarHub through a dual-band NB-IoT network that operates in both 900MHz and 1800MHz for better coverage in both underground and indoor settings. IHLs are freed from the need to install and maintain their own base stations, leaving IT and facility departments free to focus on their core competencies without having to grapple with configuring and maintaining disparate IoT systems.

The other consideration would be the breadth of solutions that can be quickly deployed on top of this network to improve everyday experiences and improve efficient use of resources. This could range from the obvious such as smart metering and smart lighting solutions, to IoT-based rodent monitoring to keep a close eye on these pests before an infestation can take root. Other capabilities to consider include know-how around behavioural analytics and the ability to quickly integrate smart sensors within the Smart Campus.


Moving into the future

The establishment of Smart Campuses is an important cornerstone towards building the smart city, serving as a fertile ground for IoT deployments and innovation. Existing systems can be interconnected with newly developed capabilities, and the experience and lessons learned can be leveraged towards larger-scale deployments within estates or towns.

There is no question that smart campuses are the way forward for IHLs, delivering a highly-conducive educational environment that both encourages and facilitates learning, and in a way that is environmentally sustainable. As IHLs in Singapore deploy their Smart Campuses, their success will serve to both complement and bolster Singapore’s efforts to establish itself into a Smart Nation.


Find out how StarHub’s IoT Solutions can enable Smart Campuses.

Follow StarHub Business on LinkedIn for the latest business updates.

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