What does smart campus mean to you?

Chris Gabriel, director of technology at Logicalis, believes inspiration leads to innovation

Let’s get straight to it. Who is really going to benefit from a smart campus initiative?

Well, it’s odds on that if you work, study, or teach at a university, at some point in the next week you will discuss some aspect of campus life with a colleague or family member.

The cleanliness of a toilet. Your journey to or from work. Not easily finding a parking spot. Lighting, heating or air-conditioning not working properly. Not being able to book a meeting room. Somebody leaving a light on in an empty room. Not feeling safe walking back to your car.

Some of those things will delight you, most will frustrate you. Research from Bristol University suggests that one of them might just push you over the edge to go find a job somewhere else.

Now imagine you are paying to come to work. Imagine you are a student. With open days being a critical factor in a student’s choice of university, research from Portsmouth University found that the glossy pictures of your shiny new buildings won’t impress the average 17-year-old more than a well-maintained older building.

“It costs a lot to go to university,” commented one student interviewed for the research. “If I turn up to that university and they haven’t taken care of the facilities and the buildings, that would leave a bad impression. If they are not taking care of the facilities and investing [in them], I would expect the level of teaching to follow the same.”

It’s an electrifying thought that the flickering lightbulb in the corridor could dim the enthusiasm of a fee-paying student to hand over their £9,000 a year. Shiny and new is easy to accomplish; old and exciting needs something more substantial to keep it up to muster.

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This is what a smart campus is all about. Make life easier for everybody who uses a campus, with the added benefit of reducing the enormous cost of running a campus the size of a small town.

All stakeholders, vice chancellor, CFO, head of facilities, student services, transport, head of waste management, academics, researchers, and of course students – in fact, anybody using the campus – should be engaged and benefit from a smart campus initiative.

At Logicalis, we are pioneering smart campus initiatives that are connecting stakeholders and use cases together.

We have connected that flickering lightbulb to a central management system that automatically reports the fault. Facilities can reduce the time to fix problems, but we are also turning those connected lights into major enhancements to campus safety. Through a simple app on a student’s phone they can now turn on all the lighting within a space with the shake of their handset. Imagine that on the front cover of the prospectus as your unique selling point. Which parent isn’t going to want their child to be part of your campus?

We are connecting parking spaces to make it easier for car drivers to find a space, but also turning those spaces into revenue streams during the weekends when the campus is quiet. Imagine the value of that to users needing to park close to buildings or in a rush during a rainstorm. But which CFO doesn’t want to monetise resources in new ways to increase income?

Those are just two simple examples of why every stakeholder should see a benefit from the smart campus. Most people won’t know what a smart campus can do for them, and that’s the challenge most CIOs or heads of facilities face. That’s why it’s vital that smart campus is for everybody and everybody is consulted about the possibilities and what problems need solving.

At Logicalis we believe that inspiration leads to innovation.

Find out more: www.logicalis.com

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