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Smart Campus - University of Glasgow

Smart Campus - University of Glasgow

We’re working with The University of Glasgow to develop a strategy for a Smart Campus that will take into account changes in technology and learning whilst also protecting their heritage (both cultural and physical) and realising cost savings.

How are universities changing? What do new technologies mean for the way student learn and academics teach? And how are university campuses going to adapt to new technologies whilst maintaining their position as incubators for exploration and innovation?

New technologies have allowed the sudden growth of MOOCs (‘Massively Open Online Courses’) which are dramatically changing access to education and the ways in which learning takes place, disrupting traditional approaches to teaching.

The changes are similar in scale to shifts that have occurred in other industries as result of technology, from shifts in the music industry to changes in publishing.

At Future Cities Catapult we’re keen to understand these changes and identify the appropriate responses that will allow universities to flourish within the new rules of the game.

We’re working with The University of Glasgow to develop a strategy for a Smart Campus that will take into account changes in technology and learning whilst also protecting their heritage (both cultural and physical) and realising cost savings.

The University is planning a £800 million investment to transform and expand their campus. The catalyst for this decision was the acquisition of 14 acres of land adjacent to their main campus, which has provided a rare opportunity to rethink the design and layout of a university with 30000 students located in an urban area.

We helped the University to define what a ‘smart campus’ means, how it can attract and engage students, and the ways in which it can deliver opportunities for the university, today and in the future.

In a competitive landscape of designed services, the university campus needs to remain a relevant place of engagement. The focus, therefore, is on making the university a more sustainable place for human exchange and interaction.

Traditional approaches to planning a development of this size would most likely include a consultation process with stakeholders and residents – normally a one-way conversation with citizens being told about the design process.

To inform our Smart Campus strategy, we focused on a human-centred approach. We conducted in-depth research interviews at all levels of management and engaged with students to understand what ‘a day in the life’ looked like, their pain-points and their vision of the university of the future.

We also undertook horizon-scanning, looking ahead to anticipated developments in 10 years time and beyond. We went through a process of identifying the main disruptors that will affect the shape and experience of the future campus in the years to come.

This was supported by best practice analysis (including field trips and desk-based research), whilst also engaging with the university in co-defining the findings.

As a result we developed a definition of the Smart Campus that supports the University’s new strategy:

The Smart Campus actively learns from and adapts to the needs of its people and place, unlocking the potential of e technology and enabling world-changing learning and research.

The Smart Campus approach, including 10 recommendations for action, will help the university to plan their Smart Campus strategy, by creating the systems, services and organisational structures that will enhance the development in learning, research and campus life.

Since working with the Future Cities Catapult, the University of Glasgow have been progressing the implementation of their Smart Campus. A number of toolkits have been developed already for immediate use: a digital application for students to use is currently being developed and is about to undertake field trials. The University library has also had a sensor network successfully installed which reports on environmental occupancy. Optimised timetabling which correlates to predictive analytics based on a student’s course choice has been developed with other technologies such as smart parking, 5G and footfall sensors are being explored.

There has also been engagement with SMEs from the local area, specifically in the energy and communication sectors.

The latest update on the implementation of the Smart Campus can be found here and be sure to follow the project’s progress in the weeks and months ahead.”

"You changed our language on how we speak about technology and its role in a Smart Campus…You also made us realise that it’s not the responsibility of just one department, we need to re-evaluate how we operate to deliver a Smart Campus”

– Director of Estates

The work has already altered the university’s perception of itself, and its readiness for the future.

We believe that the Smart Campus will become the expected norm across universities in the UK and internationally, and see the University of Glasgow as a pioneer in this – developing tried and tested approaches that can be adopted by universities and cities the world over.

To find out more about our Smart Campus work you can contact our Project Lead in Strategic Design, Gemma Ginty: gginty@futurecities.catapult.org.uk

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