Are university campuses turning into mini smart cities?

April 16, 2019 Sanjana Saluja

The smart campus is here. There are possibilities around smart kiosks with personalized information, true cross-campus digital and personalized wayfinding. The Guardian explores explores how universities are experimenting with AI and big data to improve how students live and learn on campus.


Think of a university campus: it has its own roads, shops, residential areas, banks and transport links. It may be visited by tens of thousands of people each day. It is, in effect, a tiny city. Across the globe, these mini metropolises are increasingly opting for a smart city approach. This is a tech-driven model that’s used in places such as Barcelona, where street lamps react intelligently to surroundings to save energy; Seattle, where smart traffic lights respond to the conditions on the road; and even Milton Keynes, which has a real-time “data hub” sharing information about the town’s energy and water consumption, transport, weather and pollution.

Universities are taking notice. The US is leading the way, with on-campus innovations around energy (the University of Texas at Austin has a fully independent grid that provides all its energy), transport (the University of Michigan has introduced a self-driving shuttle system) and information (the University of Minnesota has installed 300 digital signage boards, updated with real-time data).

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