The Rise of the Smart Campus

The Internet of Things is going to school.

First there were smart homes and smart cities (not to mention smart construction equipment). Now college campuses are smartening up by embracing the Internet of Things (IoT).

Institutes of higher learning are natural places for IoT experiments because the physical environment is not unlike that of a small town or city and the population already expects a high level of technology in their everyday lives.

IoT applications being tested on campuses range from smart parking lots that indicate where open spaces can be found (such as the lot at Colorado State University) to the tracking of student attendance and even health.

At Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the administration has adopted a "whole person" mindset and requires students to engage in fitness activities. To that end, freshmen are outfitted with Fitbits that transmit exercise data into the university's grading system.

Arizona State University, named the most innovative national university by U.S. News & World Report, is testing the use of digital beacons to monitor class attendance. This fall, engineering students’ dorms will be equipped with personal digital assistants called "Ask ASU," similar to the Amazon Echo, that can answer questions about the university and provide news. In the future, ASU plans to issue students internet-enabled, wearable tags instead of traditional student ID cards.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is exploring how IoT can be used to improve facility management both on the campus and off. In a “smarter buildings” partnership with IBM, it’s developing a cloud-based analytics system for reducing energy use and facility operating costs.

The IoT revolution is just beginning, but these universities are giving other schools and the general public a glimpse into what’s possible when everything — and everyone — is connected.