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Smart Campus: Managed Network Services in the age of IoT

College: where young minds are molded and future leaders are born. Over 20 million students will head to class this fall with laptops and devices in tow, ready for long hours spent in lecture halls and libraries and expecting lightning fast WiFi to get the job (and the occasional internet-browsing procrastination) done.

The profound effect that internet access has had on higher education is obvious. The wealth and breadth of knowledge available at our fingertips has made the pursuit of knowledge more accessible and more complicated. With so many resources and avenues for gathering and disseminating information, it is almost cumbersome when compared to the simple days of the past, when students huddled over dusty encyclopedias and massive volumes, jotting notes in the margins and filling the pages of their composition notebooks. As apparent as this change is, there are many other ways that the internet has changed university culture. With the introduction of WiFi came a host of devices and systems that could support several functions and execute a wide array of tasks.   

Platforms, learning software and user databases have been in use by most US colleges now for over a decade, but recently new forms of WiFi enabled devices are making their way on campus. College IoT is reshaping not only the way students learn, but the way they live. It is reported that by 2020, over $1 trillion dollars will be spent on IoT devices for college campuses across the country. While this expansion brings some welcoming changes and commodities for campus life, it also creates a heavy burden for the wireless network as most were not designed to support the capacity of so many devices. When it comes to managing this network, forget about it. If the job of the campus IT team wasn't stressful enough, tasked with managing multiple lecture halls, classrooms and dorms across large areas and securing and managing a network supporting an average 10,000 students, faculty, staff, and visitors who are relying on WiFi at every second, the introduction of IoT has created another level of complication to the mix. So, before you blame IT for slow WiFi next time you're logging into blackboard, consider these new demands on the network and how the right network design and managed network services through SecurEdge can meet the needs of an expanding IoT. 

  

IoT and Smart Campus Evolution

 

The average university enrollment in the US is 6,265 undergraduate students according to US News, with the top 10 largest schools in the country averaging roughly 47,000. Factor in faculty, staff and daily guests and an average 7 tech devices per student and you've got a massive undertaking for any size university wireless network. With a dedicated IT team relative to size, most universities have in-house trained experts to ensure the network is running smoothly. This job is becoming increasingly more difficult for small teams however, thanks to the recent trend towards "Smart Campuses". The investment and implementation of IoT on campuses is a global trend that shows no sign of stopping. 

For example, Penn State employs an automation system that allows operators to monitor and control electricity, ac, plumbing, ventilation, lighting and other environmental systems remotely for more than 350 buildings across their secure WiFi network. 

Other campuses like the University of Kentucky, have installed smart laundry, an application that communicates with students to update them on the status of their laundry, offers multi-level pricing options, and updates laundry room management with real-time updates, repair notifications and remote internet access control.  

At Arizona State University, sensors have been installed throughout campus facilities to monitor and communicate environmental factors like noise, humidity, and temperature with staff. Additionally, they can detect factors such as running faucets, parking availability and concession stand lines and report in live time to users running the monitoring software.

Smart Suites with app-controlled doors are increasing campus security with programed apps that let students and faculty gain access to buildings, dorms and common areas through internet applications. 

Vending machines and cafeteria POS systems are also getting upgrades to be WiFi device friendly. Students can pay for late night lattes and afternoon snacks with touch-to-pay apps on from their smart phones and watches. Students can manage food plans, check their balance and top up from devices and applications and leave their wallets and cafeteria cards at home when dining on campus.  

As the interest and demand for smart campus technology increases, companies like ThingWorx are seeking out solutions using smart phones, sensors, alarms and other devices to address campus safest concerns and continue building and implementing smart campus IoT devices to improve and revolutionize campus environments.

With this increase comes a higher demand for managed network services to aid in the the support and management of these large-scale projects. 

 

Managed Network Services from SecurEdge

 

With all these devices and sensors running on the wireless network, providing ongoing network management services is paramount. SecurEdge has the tools and software to help IT teams on campuses across the country gain better visibility into their network and monitor and manage it successfully to stay ahead of the IoT boom. 

There are 3 steps SecurEdge employs for providing secure and reliable wireless network once a wireless network has been deployed:

 

Monitor

With SecurEdge WiFi on subscription, you'll gain access to network monitoring software that relays real-time network performance statistics. Weekly health reports and live notifications will keep you up-to-date on the status of your network on an ongoing basis so you can identify problems, troubleshoot and repair in record time. 

Additionally, SecurEdge offers 24/7 monitoring which allows us to connect to each networking component we've deployed to your business and keep you informed when events occur on your network. The value of these monitoring tools are priceless given the visibility and insight they grant your IT team as the manage your large area network.

 

Manage  

Many of the issues that occur with WLAN systems are predictable with the right WiFi analytics tools, meaning you can proactively prevent issues and maintain seamless WiFI connectivity for all your devices. 

Each component of a WLAN system has software that needs to be managed and updated. SecurEdge has a process in place to manage your hardware and install updates and performance checks regularly so you can relax knowing that the hardware infrastructure is to-date and functioning optimally. If any problems occur, we'll let you know and work together to resolve the issue. 

 

Measure 

Traditional network monitoring tools only measure performance from the network itself, but we believe the greatest measure of success is the end-user experience. 

As part of our subscription platform, we deploy sensors that measure WiFi performance from the end user’s perspective and correlate that data with network testing to determine the source of any problems that pop up.  

While managed network services are crucial to maintaining a secure and reliable wireless network, it can be limited by poor Wireless network design. If your campus is running new age wireless technology on an outdated wireless network, it's time to upgrade. SecurEdge Networks has the industry experience to design and install an enterprise-grade wireless network solution for your university and get you up and running all the devices and users you need to support growing network demands. Want to hear more about our design and network management services? Contact us. 

IoT security checklist, comprehensive checklist to protect your network from security threats associated with the internet of things
Brittany Cooper

Brittany Cooper

Brittany is the Marketing Coordinator for SecurEdge. If they had a company softball team she would make the T Shirts and play Shortstop.

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