The Internet of Things is all around us, comprising objects from cell phones to thermostats that are connected to the Internet. We use these objects to send and receive information, and sometimes the objects send data to each other, such as in building management systems. The IoT is like a spiderweb of shared information.
Student connectivity in higher education
Meet Paola, a college student. She connects to the IoT and uses it all the time without much thought because she grew up with computers and the Internet. Paola is sitting in the college library, writing a report for her literature class on a laptop computer connected to the school’s WiFi. When she has questions, Paola uses her computer to check library databases.
She stretches, yawns, and takes a quick break. Paola checks her smartphone app to learn whether any washing machines are available at her dorm’s laundry room. Then she walks around the library while signing in to her school’s learning management system. She checks for messages from professors and study groups. She telecommutes to her job as a freelance writer to see if any assignments are available.
Paola fingers the fitness bracelet on her wrist connected by WiFi to her smartphone. She signs in to her fitness website to see her daily activity data, which is low. Aware that her educational performance benefits from exercise, she decides to pack up her materials and take a vigorous walk to her dorm.
It is cold and getting dark. Paola wishes she could use her phone to send signals to her dorm room to turn on the lights and turn up the heat. Her college is working on developing “smart” dorms, which provide students with environmental controls and Internet lounges.
Paola would like to live in a dorm with a WiFi student lounge, where she could charge her digital devices while meeting with study groups or chatting with friends. She once saw a college IoT lounge online that even had cozy padded booths.
Comfortable smart communities
Students’ academic and social lives are digitally connected. WiFi is no longer considered a luxury at school, home, and the workplace, but a utility necessary to daily life.
Smart Buildings magazine reports that “round-the-clock connectivity” is an increasingly important part of our lives, and many people worry about not having access to the Internet on smartphones and other mobile devices. The magazine calls this worry nomophobia: “the fear of being without a mobile device.”
Researchers estimate that the IoT will include 50 to 75 billion objects by 2020. Many of these will be common tools for college students, and students and educators will have many digital objects drawing on campus bandwidth.
Each college campus is like a village, with business offices, cafes, campus security stations, classrooms, homes, facilities for recreation and entertainment, libraries, and medical centers. College campuses need powerful digital networking tools to become “smart” well-integrated communities.
Integration involves connecting the management systems of buildings and grounds with many IoT-enabled devices, which connect to each other digitally to share information. This information might be when classrooms, dorm rooms, and offices are and are not occupied, for example, so that heating and air conditioning can be adjusted automatically for comfort and energy savings.
The data might also include information about the condition of roads and grounds. For example, moisture sensors in the landscape could turn off sprinklers after a rainy day. Campus security reports could become available in real time all over the campus when necessary.
Powerful digital manager
Smart campuses need a powerful digital platform for tracking, analyzing, and sharing information from a school’s IoT devices. Data gathered from these devices can help decrease cost of operations. Learner achievement data from the digital learning management system can shape teaching models through better analytics.
The IoT edition of SAP HANA can do these tasks while protecting privacy. It can also use data to analyze and make predictions. For example, data about the student recreation center might show when to cut or increase hours.
Machine-to-machine management of a college’s facilities is particularly important for making schools sustainable. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed building IoT data and was able to save millions of dollars by increasing use of space by 10%.
Having individual control of room environments through IoT-connected objects will make students like Paola more comfortable in the future. IoT objects will “speak” to school administrators about how they can create the best possible environment at colleges and universities.
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