7/25/2018

Five Tips for Building Tomorrow’s Intelligent Campus: How to support the higher education needs of the future

You expect to find a lot of smart people on a university campus—but it’s not just the students and faculty who are smart: Today, the campus itself is intelligent!

A new technical revolution is coming to higher education. And it isn’t just collaborative teaching and learning experiences in the classroom, or connected, real-time tools for administration and IT teams. Thanks to digital transformation, this revolution also includes Smart Building and Smart Campus solutions that automate the monitoring of management, operations and safety across the entire campus. How smart is that?

Supporting these innovations requires high performance connectivity to deliver data and communications across the university infrastructure securely. Unfortunately, this basic requirement is just not available on all campuses.

Is your network ready?
At a recent conference, I ran into Susan, an old acquaintance who’s an IT director at a large state university that focuses on scientific research. For years, the university dealt with its always-growing need for bandwidth by adding more and more individual IT networks for different departments and applications, as needs arose. This hodgepodge of networks has always been a colossal pain to manage for the IT team. But as these networks become increasingly critical for handling everything from student Wi-Fi connectivity to data flows between research labs and IoT campus security solutions, keeping this patchwork of multiple overlapping networks secure and reliable has become a nightmare. It literally keeps Susan up at night, particularly since the university’s government–funded research now requires advanced levels of data security. Achieving this degree of data protection on a fragmented network infrastructure is next to impossible.

Pensive female IT director for blog post 

Unfortunately, Susan’s situation is not at all uncommon. Dealing with the complexity of the campus’s underlying IT and communication network is a major part of her team’s day-to-day responsibilities, leaving little time and few resources to deliver more innovative services to students, researchers, faculty members and university administrators.

However, this cloud does have a silver lining. I offered Susan the following tips for evolving her university’s existing network into a robust, secure and easily managed foundation for digital innovation.

Choose a single, robust network ecosystem that can connect all the people, processes, facilities, and devices on the campus. This single infrastructure will serve as a foundation of all campus IT and communications systems. The key word here is “single.” A fully integrated network lets university IT teams address the complexities of managing campus networks with a truly unified approach that allows all IT and communications systems to work together as a single, reliable network. Unified management also provides a common set of network services, policies, and authentication processes that apply to all users, ensuring consistent QoS on any device, anywhere on campus.

Deploy a layered approach to network security to protect against hackers. Security has to be a fundamental component in the campus network infrastructure, particularly since campuses are gold mines of valuable data. In part that’s because many campus networks were originally designed to make connectivity easy, which also makes them relatively simple to hack. Given today’s skyrocketing levels of cybercrime, a multi-layered security strategy with full network virtualization and IoT containment is required for protecting sensitive university data.

Make sure your campus physical security infrastructure is connected to a reliable, real-time network. It’s a sad reality that campuses and universities are not always safe environments for students and faculty. Make sure your network supports real-time emergency communication solutions that deliver situational awareness, response coordination and emergency mass notification systems.

Support student success and academic achievement. Today’s students have high expectations for connectivity services that bring digital superpowers to both faculty and students. A robust network supports the latest teaching and learning technologies and—by breaking down silos of information—opens up new ways to collaborate and share bright ideas and insights.

University student collaborating for blog post

Reduce IT overload with smart, automated network management tools. IT pros like Susan need a single-view management interface to manage the complexity of the networking infrastructure. This provides a unified set of tools to provision, monitor, analyze and troubleshoot the network. The platform has to be able to scale quickly to meet new requirements, support the latest applications—including rapid growth for mobility, IoT and Smart Building applications—and simplify operations through automation and network self-configuration.

A network for tomorrow—and beyond!
I hope this checklist helps guide your thinking, too, as you plan to upgrade your network and communications infrastructure and lay the groundwork for a smart digital campus.
But as I assured my friend Susan, don’t let the thought of transforming your current network add more hassle to your already too stressful schedule. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has solutions and services that can help make the process risk and pain free.

Learn more at https://www.al-enterprise.com/en/industries/education.

Tags - Education, Digital Transformation, Education - HighEd

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About the author
Greg Kovich photo for blog author page

Greg Kovich

Global Sales Lead, Education Vertical

Greg Kovich leads global sales for ALE’s Education vertical.  Greg has overseen or created several Education solutions including “The Fundamentals of Communications” – a vendor neutral course on digital network communications; “Safe Campus” – a solution uniting emergency alerts with first responder collaboration and mass notification; “Secure Campus” – a solution that allows instructors to limit student network access to determined sites; and “Pandemic Education Continuity” – a solution that enables classroom instruction in the event the institution is closed due to health or environmental crisis. 

He is a 1992 graduate of Indiana University with over 20 yrs experience in Information Technology.

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