The use of technology in the 21st century classroom is no longer a want but an essential part of education and learning. Nowadays universities exist as mini towns with the ever-growing connectivity demands. This as students expect to receive all their data and services wirelessly while professors and researchers need to be able to connect easily over the network.
This is why universities need to get connectivity right, and there are a few parallels which can be drawn between their ambitions and those of a smart city, according to networking specialists Aruba.
They advise that universities learn from smart city projects (PDF) on how to identify which solutions can be implemented effectively to impact the campus.
Network infrastructure on the edge
Aruba explains that in the past WiFi was concentrated on central university buildings or town centres, nowadays there is an expectation that coverage should be consistent no matter where you are, meaning that the network infrastructure must be mobile enough to follow users far and wide.
The company points to the University of Free State as a good example, where Aruba installed WiFi with a total of 2 000 access points (APs), and installed eight mobility controllers to effectively serve 33 000 students and 4 500 staff members.
Adding to that the University has strategically placed access points throughout the campus to provide students to full access of the campus WiFi.
User experience vs. Network security
Aruba adds that both universities and smart cities must walk a tightrope between providing the best user experience and keeping the network secure. “As mobile connectivity, cloud and IoT bring benefits to everyone who uses them, they also provide hackers with opportunities of exploitation,” the company explains.
They also note that universities could look into the way smart cities have mitigated this by implementing networks that are granular enough to show individuals and devices connecting them. That way they can monitor the pattern usage, spikes in demand and any irregularities.
The firm says that these networks can adapt their policies in real-time to match demand and prevent breaches, downtime and user dissatisfaction can be avoided.
“The most successful smart city projects are harnessing the power of an always-on network to collect relevant data and turn it to their advantage,” Aruba points.
They continue by noting that universities also need to be utilising their network data to make improvements across the campus, as institutions continue to battle each other in a bid to attract new students and provide the best experience.
Preparing for the experience economy
Aruba concludes by stating that the coming years the experience economy will only grow larger.
“In order to keep up institutions need to work together, attending conferences like Networkshop and being vocal about personal successes in order to discover joint learnings,” they say.
“Collaboration is going to be key to unlocking solutions to these challenges and ensuring that user experience goes hand-in-hand with a secure reliable network,” the company concludes.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]