By: Richard Nedwich, Global Director of Education
Just a few years ago, it was smooth sailing for most colleges and universities. As the economy stuttered and jobs were harder to find, young people had every incentive to go to and stay in school. Enrollment was booming and student retention was through the roof.
Fast forward to today, and the skies are a lot cloudier for higher education. As the economy has improved and more young people are entering the workforce, enrollment has dropped off. According to one recent survey, just 34 percent of institutions met their enrollment targets last year. Even worse, the same survey suggests that more students are questioning the basic value of a college education in a way they haven’t in the past.
Colleges and universities have always competed for students. But if messages about the great curriculum and stellar job prospects aren’t resonating the way they used to, what is? The actual experience on campus.
What are you doing to give “digital natives”—who are, after all, going to live on your campus for several years—the same kind of wicked-fast Wi-Fi and hassle-free access they already have at home? What kinds of new experiences can you offer—in the ways that people learn, live, work, and play—that make your campus stand out as the place they need to be?
The battle for enrollment is becoming a “lifestyle arms race.” And if you’re not thinking about how you plan to win it, you’re already behind.
Enter the Smart Campus
More colleges and universities are recognizing that the technology experiences they deliver can make all the difference in how current and prospective students think about the institution. And they’re looking to new models, such as “Smart Homes” and “Smart Cities” to reimagine campus life.
It’s called the Smart Campus. And it’s all about making the most of your network infrastructure to build a campus experience that digital natives will rave about.
At the highest level, a Smart Campus links devices, applications, and people to enable new experiences and run campus services more efficiently and effectively. When everyone and everything on campus is connected over a ubiquitous, high-performance wireless infrastructure, they can interact with applications and each other in ways they never could before. All of a sudden, a world of new experiences and efficiencies become possible.
Give Digital Natives a True Home-Away-from-Home
The students you’re trying to attract have had constant, always-on wireless access since they could crawl. They use every device under the sun—smartphones, laptops, wearables, gaming consoles—and they’re bringing them all to campus. All of this stuff “just works” at home. They won’t have much patience for spotty connectivity or having to jump through hoops just to get online.
On a Smart Campus, you can use your wireless infrastructure to give digital natives lightning-fast access anywhere and everywhere, and the ability to get online (and stay online) from any device in seconds. Even more, you can deliver the kind of Smart Home experiences many digital natives are already accustomed to: opening locks and checking who’s at the door from a smartphone, personalizing lighting and environmental controls through an app, and much more. (Check out this story about Lennar Homes to see the kinds of Smart Home experiences you can bring to the residence hall.)
Use Your Wireless Infrastructure to Transform Campus Life
With the same wireless infrastructure that’s giving digital natives a home-away-from-home experience, you can also start deploying “Smart City” solutions that make your campus more efficient, convenient, and just downright cool.
Use digital signage and wayfinding apps to let students discover and engage more deeply with everything the campus has to offer. Use smart parking and connected buses, ride-shares, and bike-shares to make it easy to get around campus. Make everyone safer with connected video surveillance, alarms, broadcast systems, and asset tracking—that can all communicate with and work together. And measure and control energy usage, water consumption, and other utilities to make your school the model of a green campus. (See this video case study about how the City of San Jose is using Smart City technology to deliver new experiences and efficiencies.)
This is just a small sample of the ways you can use your wireless infrastructure to win the lifestyle arms race and give digital natives an experience they can’t find anywhere else.
Ready to start imagining what your own Smart Campus can look like?
Check out our webinar on Demand to learn what it means to turn your college or university into a smart campus: “Smart Campus: The Journey Starts Here”
See our Smart Campus solution briefs:
Solution Brief – Smart Living Applications
Solution Brief – Smart Learning With Campus Data
Solution Brief – Smart Security and Safety