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University campuses are ideal mini smart cities

Universities around the world, with the US leading the way, are taking notice of smart city developments and applying many of the same solutions. University campuses are ideal for this, as, in effect, they are mini metropolises of their own, with their own shops, roads, transport, residences, banks, and tens of thousands of visitors every day.

In fact, campuses may be better suited to smart solutions than cities. Cities can be slow-moving entities due to the large number of players and stakeholders, while universities (usually) have control of their own estates, buildings and networks, which they can operate in unison, acting as a living lab. This is what Manchester Metropolitan University is trying to do with an overall smart campus plan which unites six projects and brings smart initiatives together, facilitating their implementation.

In general, various universities are proving excellent test beds of smart technology. In the US, the University of Texas at Austin has a fully independent grid that provides all its energy, the University of Michigan has introduced a self-driving shuttle system (pictured above) and the University of Minnesota has installed 300 digital signage boards, updated with real-time data. In the UK the University of Glasgow has been working on a strategy to bring smart tech to the campus, including intelligent campus AI, an on-demand bus service and a data centre powered by renewable energy.

Of course, the gathering of data, which is a key feature of smart solutions, raises reasonable concerns regarding privacy. The ownership and application of student data should be a vital concern.

The original article can be found on the Guardian.