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Smart Campus : why is flow management important?

Updated: May 3

For several years, higher education has been facing many challenges.

On the one hand, universities are facing new student profiles, digital natives, who want increased connectivity and a more intuitive experience on their university campus. The COVID-19 health crisis has amplified this phenomenon, forcing universities to adapt more quickly than expected by imposing 100% distance learning courses on students.

On the other hand, more and more people are talking about Smart Cities: many public places are moving towards a different way of organising themselves, centred on the use of intelligent technologies. Universities must also take this turn and become part of a "Smart Campus" project. The benefits are clear as these new technologies can improve the quality of life of the whole university community (students, staff, teachers, researchers, management) by making the university campus smarter, more adaptive and more efficient through better services!

According to a survey by the Centre for Digital Education in the US and CenturyLink*, 43% of higher education leaders believe that the smart campus can improve student retention. In addition, 50% said that a well-designed smart campus will result in significant cost savings. So there is no reason for universities to hesitate!

What is a "Smart Campus"?

Before listing the benefits of a smart campus, let's start with a clear definition.

A smart campus is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technological systems interact with each other to create new, intelligent, interactive and interconnected services while meeting the needs, expectations, goals and behaviours of students on the university campus.

All this is possible thanks to the emergence of intelligent technologies which are, more concretely, devices, sensors, counting cameras, machines that are connected to the internet and driven by artificial intelligence. They enable the collection and analysis of valuable data that optimise the use of resources, the flow of people in spaces and many other things. Intelligent tools are already an integral part of the world we live in, we use them on a daily basis, wether it is at the bank, in a shop, in the office or even in our own home!

The smart campus addresses environmental, energy and digital issues while improving the student experience, efficiency and education.

How can a flow management solution turn your university into a smart campus?

There are an unlimited number of systems contributing to the development of the smart campus, so it is sometimes difficult to find your way around and choose the best technologies.

Several levers can be activated, including the improvement of teaching, which will aim to personalise training, allow continuous access to teaching resources, provide hybrid learning spaces that facilitate exchanges, etc. Beyond this "teaching" aspect, other aspects need to be taken into account, such as flow management, mobility and energy transition.

We explain to you how flow management solutions are particularly effective and address the three aspects mentioned above.

What is the purpose of a flow management solution in a smart campus project?

By using intelligent tools, universities can more easily provide relevant information to their students, such as people counting systems that can measure and communicate occupancy in real time. You provide your students with valuable information that will allow them to know the precise occupancy of all the spaces on campus (libraries, sports halls and fields, cafeterias, lecture halls, etc.). They will be able to check the availability of the services on offer before they arrive. In this way, you can automatically smooth out the flow of students around the campus while improving their comfort and experience!

For example, the London School of Science and Tropical Medicine equipped with Affluences measures the school's occupancy by floor, as well as the classroom occupancy!

With flow management solutions such as Affluences, you can even observe and understand more precisely your students' journey thanks to a heatmap functionality that shows you the distribution of your students in the campus. This allows you to optimise your organisation by adapting the schedule of cleaning teams, for example, or to optimise space by adjusting the size of certain classrooms according to the expected number of students.

Affluences heatmap feature
Affluences heatmap feature

In addition to its people counting solution, Affluences also offers an online booking and appointment system that can also be very useful. Allow your students to book a wide range of resources: library or cafeteria spaces, study rooms, sports classes or administrative appointments. University staff will save a lot of time as resources and flows will be optimised automatically!

Its impact on mobility: measuring car park occupancy

In addition to counting people, some flow management solutions can also count cars or bicycles in a car park, as in the case of Affluences. The aim is to communicate the occupancy of car parks to students and university staff, who will no longer have to wait for hours for a space to become available. They will be able to check the availability of car parks before going to the campus and choose the least busy one! With Affluences, parking occupancy can be communicated both on a web and mobile application and on the university's communication channels.

Thanks to such a solution, the flow of people by car or bicycle is optimised, as is their comfort. No more stress about parking on campus!

In addition, the university staff will be able to use and control this data internally to better understand the behaviour of car park users and thus optimise the spaces according to this information.

Its impact on the energy transition: the integration of a flow management solution into a BMS

Finally, a flow management solution such as Affluences can also be integrated with a BMS (Building Management System). These are computer systems capable of smartly controlling the equipment in a building, i.e. heating, air conditioning, lighting or electricity.

It allows the optimisation of the security, comfort, energy and environmental performance of a building by using various data, including the occupancy data provided by Affluences! Indeed, the temperature will automatically change according to the occupancy of the campus spaces. For example, if in winter, 250 students are counted in lecture theatre A at 2pm (whereas in the morning there were only 100), the temperature will automatically increase in the lecture theatre. The system will therefore reduce the heating in order to balance the temperature and thus save energy!

In this way, the university will be able to better control the operating costs of the buildings on the university campus, especially those related to energy consumption. It saves energy and reduces its carbon footprint!

Do you want to turn your university into a smart campus? Contact us to find out more about our flow management solution for the smart campus!

*Leveraging the internet of things for a smarter, safer campus - The Center for Digital Education and CenturyLink



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