Universities – Smart Cities in microcosm

Nick Stein, 
Image Credit: Executive Academy

Smart cities on Campus

University campuses are a great testing ground for many things, Google and Facebook might just agree.

As they are like small villages, the idea of creating a smart city on a campus is actually the perfect testing ground. You have a semi-contained environment, a technologically aware population who want to get the best out of their time, and a community behind trying new things out.

A quick Quora search finds this answer

“Stanford University owns 8,183 acres (3,312 ha), which makes it the second largest university in the world in terms of contiguous area. Moscow State University is built vertically and has a larger total floor area but occupies a smaller piece of land.”


stanford university campus map


This shows that these can in fact be small cities, with stadiums, supermarkets, apartment complexes etc. Not to mention the stadiums that are part of the US campuses.


TD Ameritrade Park Omaha seating

TD Ameritrade Park Omaha Stadium

University Use Case

  • Campus security
  • Patrols
  • Safety for students
  • Indoor Navigation for blind or reduced mobility individuals
  • Time to class
  • Managing canteen times
  • Booking empty study room/lecture halls
  • Energy management of the campus
  • Tracking important assets
  • Guest lecture orientations
  • Student orientation and tours


These are just a few of the possible use cases available when a university implements Indoor Navigation. Now we will go in depth on a few of the use cases to show what benefits they can bring.

Campus Safety

Campus security
New bike patrols at UH-Manoa










This has unfortunately become a big topic and therefore deserves to be singled out as a point where Indoor Positioning systems would be able to support a safer campus.

It would be possible to integrate a notification feature so that when someone needs to be alerted, the location of the alert can be pinpointed, which building, which floor, which room.

As there is a lot of area to be covered, this can be highly important in a situation where assistance is needed. There are many papers written about EMT response times

  1. https://indoo.rs/first-responders/
  2. https://indoo.rs/indoor-navigation-for-security/


Access for blind and reduced mobility students

One of the ways that students with reduced mobility or who are visually impaired have gained access to higher education in the past has been through online course MOOCs  This is a great opportunity but one of the experiences that universities offer is the social aspect and this is denied someone who is studying remotely.

With Indoor Navigation it is possible to offer the full university experience making universities a fully inclusive place – https://indoo.rs/solution/visually-impaired/



Energy Management

LEED Energy efficiency certifications






Complex and costly to implement and optimize; Energy management solutions have the opportunity to save a university campus a lot of money and reduce wasted energy consumption.

Implementing an Indoor Positioning system can offer the same level of energy savings as a stand alone solution. The advantage over a stand alone solution is that the setup can be utilized for all the other use cases mentioned in this blog as well.


Download our brochure on Smart Building Management:


    Asset management

    As mentioned before, university campuses are, at least in terms of facilities on offer, like a small city. With much on offer keeping track of it all means that automation is needed to run this with the required proficiency. By giving the campus management team a full overview of the assets on their books, it is possible to increase the ROI for the entire campus. This allows all the students, visitors and employees to have instant access to all the facilities that the university has to offer, hopefully exposing the students to new opportunities as well.

    The access to the assets such as room, laboratories etc can be restricted. This would enable a safer testing environment for experiments as it would be known exactly when a student or professor last accessed the lab and thus further control could be exercised over the experiments.

    This is heavily interlinked with Energy Management, booking rooms, canteen management; and also into the accessibility for students as it is possible to track wheelchairs.

    Health Management

    With the advent of fitness trackers, people are being made more aware of their health and movements. What this has to do with universities, might not seem obvious at first glance. The benefits of concentration and mental capacity have been written about many times , so helping students become more aware of their own movements can benefit them.

    This is such a hot topic that a year ago, a university in the US took it a step further by making FitBits mandatory for all students.

    While it would not be possible to monitor heart rates, it would be possible to give a student a rough footstep count and encourage them with offers for healthy food or let them know when the fitness facilities might be available according to their class schedule.


    Campus Orientation

    Campus orientation






    Combining GPS and Indoor Navigation would give students the opportunity to know how long it will take to get from class to class.

    Above that it would allow guest lecturers, visitors, first responders etc. the chance to have almost first hand knowledge of the campus.

    This could also be used to introduce new facilities to the current students, have companies run a campaign on campus, or even allowing third parties to use facilities to increase revenue.


    University Navigation: The full experience

    The modern university campus has everything from stadiums to supermarkets as well as many different academic departments, therefore Indoor Positioning should be one of the core components of a campus to enable the students to gain every advantage that is available during their time there.

    By highlighting what is near or more importantly what undiscovered opportunities lay just around the corner for a student, it benefits both the student and the university. The college experience is all about discovering something new and testing yourself to the limits. A student could find that during their spare time there is a lecture that they could attend and be exposed to a whole new way of thinking. Another could be made aware that there is a gym is close, or a prayer room and not full.

    As you can see, university apps are now commonplace, the download rate might not be out of this world but with more to offer the students, that will change. This is an audience that is contained and also wanting to get the best out of their time, therefore it is a natural fit for the students to use the app on a consistent basis.

    The more the students use the app, the better for both the students and the university. The use cases on campus are near limitless and if the students are allowed supervised access to the setup, it would be possible for them to find out even more uses.

    Below are a few more examples of how the setups can be used.


    Similar articles

    1. Indoor Positioning for Airports
    2. Indoor Navigation for Security
    3. Asset Tracking
    4. Uber indoors
    5. Industry 4.0