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The Internet of Things: The IoT on College Campuses
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The Internet of Things: The IoT on College Campuses - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: The IoT on College Campuses

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: The IoT on College Campuses

Most of the Internet of Things talk centers around two recurring themes: what we could be doing with smart devices someday, and how serious the security considerations are. While it’s true that the promise of a seemingly all-connected future and the dangers that come with it are the most exciting and most daunting topics in this field, at least judging by media coverage, it’s easy to forget that a lot of this connectivity is happening now, although sometimes it may require a deep-dive to drill down to it. So as a nice reminder, here are a few ways the IoT is taking shape on scales larger than our homes and offices but smaller than most cities: college campuses.

Universities are great places for implementing new IoT concepts. First, they have small enough a user base to test things at reasonable scale--again, smaller than a city, but bigger than a home--but also a large population of people born and raised by smart technology and eager to try it out. Second, colleges often have the foresight and resources to set adequate infrastructure in place, with adequate network capacity, data collection capability, and security measures.

“Get out of the laundry and on with life,” implores the web interface for a smart laundry service called Esuds. Students can check their nearest laundry room, via mobile app or website, to see how many washers and dryers are available, including the machines who’ve completed their tasks but whose users have not yet removed their laundry. Additionally, students can receive text alerts when their specific machines have ended their cycles, ostensibly to decrease the time others have to wait for machines to be emptied. Among schools already using the service are Binghamton, Rutgers, Drake, Mary Washington, and Southern Mississippi. There is no word yet about a companion app that will fold the newly washed clothes and bring it up to a dorm room.

On a much larger scale, Arizona State University recently installed sensor hubs under seats throughout its stadium. The sensors collect a range of data, including sound levels, temperature, humidity, and vibration. The only fully implemented use of the data so far is for an actual, real time cheering contest between fans in different sections of the stadium at football games. The cheering contest has been a sports arena staple for decades, but the scoreboard graphics are fictional, a preprogrammed animation designed more for getting even louder cheers out of audiences than actually displaying true noise levels. Now Sun Devils supporters can see whether they’re in an appropriately rabid section of the stadium or whether they need to request different seats for next season. That’s just a joke, of course, but the cheering contest does point in the right direction: increased awareness of fan experience, plus increased customer engagement.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is pointing its sensors toward the most noble use of all: making parking less of a hassle. Its license plate recognition technology, through a service called NuPark, means drivers don’t need to display paper passes on dashboards or stick vinyl clings to the insides of windshields. Sensors all over campus identify cars in order to verify locations, permissions, and account statuses. An admin-accessible app tells parking enforcement issues where cars are actually parked, hopefully so sentries at guard shacks can tell new arrivals where their best chances are for good stalls. It seems the application is aimed entirely at parking enforcement with no access to data for parkers themselves, but the decrease in paperwork, not to mention lineup times or fumbling for cash to get daily passes, should make some difference on the consumer end, as it smooths things out on the provider end.

It’s not difficult to remember the long list we all have of the inconveniences of campus life, for the resident, commuter, undergrad, graduate, faculty, or support staff. But technology seems to be catching up with us, finally able to do away with some of the headaches that distract us from our true purposes, whether they be the completion of a degree, the generation and sharing of ideas, or the celebration of youth through as much safe partying as possible.

Reference links:
ASU: https://www.si.com/tech-media/2017/03/29/intel-arizona-state-sun-devil-stadium-technology
Binghamton State: http://binghamton-asi.esuds.net/RoomStatus/showRoomStatus.i?locationId=2043877
UNC Charlotte: https://campustechnology.com/articles/2017/07/06/unc-charlotte-gets-smart-with-parking-on-campus.aspx

 

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The Internet of Things: The IoT on College Campuses - Executive Leadership Articles

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