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Universities Are Primed to Capitalize on the IoT's Transformative Potential

As colleges strive to attract the best students, they must provide an autonomous experience that is intuitive, personalized and connected; the Internet of Things can help.
By Viswanath Subramaniam

An IoT platform that is open, scalable and interoperable with different systems can help in addressing these challenges and controlling security breaches. The University of San Francisco has worked with Cisco to put in place an intelligent facial-recognition system that can aid in effectively tracking multiple human faces in an uncontrolled environment across non-overlapping cameras. This is known as facial recognition in a crowd, which enables comparisons against a comprehensive student database to determine who is not authorized to be there. Such an interoperable IoT solution allows the university to push out rich data into the field, to command centers and to anyone else who is using a tablet or a smartphone and needs to be informed about unauthorized access or entry.

Facilitating Autonomy for Intuitive Student Experience
As students seek to learn and thrive at a university, it is imperative for them to do so in an environment that encourages them to be free and unencumbered. With most colleges spanning several acres, adjusting to campus life for a freshman can be quite overwhelming.

An IoT-powered indoor navigation system can help students map their paths to dorms, student centers, hospitals and libraries, in order to make life a tad easier for them. In addition, the ubiquity of smartphones and watches provides several possibilities for universities to integrate such devices into the ecosystem to provide their students with rich and contextual data about upcoming lectures, student performance, health statistics or lunch options available at the cafeteria.

IoT Enables Universities to Tap Into Their Reservoir of Data
There is an ocean of data available at each university, and it can be the key to unlocking highly personalized learning experiences for students. With the ubiquity of connected devices spread across a campus, there has been a significant increase in the volume of data-driven insights that can contribute toward improving decision making and student performance.

The University of Southern California has already made strides in this direction by using an IoT network of devices and sensors to assess the cognitive engagement and emotions of its students. The data extracted would be married with more traditional assessments to enable timely interventions by teachers, who would now know exactly what kind of help their students need, and when.

Connecting the Dots Across the IoT Ecosystem
As with any technology that is poised to be a game-changer, the successful adoption of the IoT is dependent upon connecting the right dots across smart devices and gateways, IoT platforms, reporting dashboards and business layers. A university that is looking to get started on its IoT journey would do well to collaborate with an experienced technology services partner that has a strong IoT focus coupled with a nuanced understanding of the world of education.

Viswanath Subramaniam is the director and enterprise domain head at Happiest Minds. Vish, as he is popularly known, is the company's EduTech domain head and is closely invested in the education space. Having worked in the education industry, Vish has a deep understanding of how institutions are looking to use technology as a key enabler in facilitating better learning experiences. At Happiest Minds, Vish works with some of the largest e-learning and publishing companies across the world to help them leverage the latest technologies in creating better learning experiences.

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