Universities of Tomorrow

Data as the basis of evolution

Some of the most prestigious universities in the world are also the guardians of long-standing traditions – and so they see the need to balance the preservation of their heritage with innovating to progress.

But how to affect the marriage of heritage and innovation? Data holds the key. Investing in technology that lets them gather and analyse data, is the knowledge needed to offer an improved learning experience, while maintaining time-honoured traditions.

There are different areas in which data analysis and AI can help improve the learning experience. Following, are three examples of benefits that can be procured.

Smart Spaces

Campus buildings are one of the main assets of any university and, as such, they need to be utilised efficiently.

Access to the right data can help guide students to available spaces within a lab, a library or a computer area  and can also help target heating and lighting to populated areas of the campus, avoiding wasting energy.

Wireless technology can help universities make intelligent use of their assets. While location data was not accurate enough to offer a precise picture a few years ago, thanks to Bluetooth beacons this challenge can be overcome today, reducing cases where a university will heat and light an entire building with only 30% occupancy.

Wellbeing Monitoring

Supporting the wellbeing of its students is a duty that universities feel increasingly bound to fulfil. But monitoring mental health for example, becomes an issue when affected students shy away from public life, a natural behaviour for someone experiencing this kind of challenge. Spotting a change in movement patterns of the student population can raise the alarm and prompt universities to monitor situations closely, offering support promptly, where needed.

Location services can help here; universities can monitor movement patterns on campus and flag anomalies. All data is anonymised to protect individual privacy.

Insights for New Students

The pandemic has forced us to rethink the concept of Open Days, where universities display their assets to attract new prospective students. Students also use this opportunity to  gather information to make an all-important choice that will affect their lives, not only for the years of residence, but for the longer term.

Tailored virtual tours are a possible answer that will benefit universities and students alike.

Virtual tours can use data to personalise the experience based on the student’s chosen area of interest. Chemistry and engineering students for example will want to see different parts of the campus they are likely to visit, whether labs, lecture rooms, libraries, or other facilities. By highlighting the parts of the campus that are more relevant to them, the tour can provide a realistic view of what university life would be like.

The value of data

The Track & Trace model used to monitor the spread of the pandemic has provided useful experience on how to deal responsibly with sensitive data and respect relevant legal guidelines (GDPR).

Data-based insights are the basis for evolution. Investing in tools to collect and interpret data is important for universities to derive clear insights to guide their next steps. Having the tools to represent the data graphically will aid understanding too, so they can put such insights to good use.

For more information on AI please see The AI-Driven Enterprise has arrived.