What do you mean all the rooms are booked?

Efficient spaces on the intelligent campus


What’s the issue?

When you move around a university or college campus do you notice rooms and spaces that are currently unused or underused?

Is space being utilised well or for an activity for which it wasn’t designed? As a teacher or lecturer do you have rooms you dislike and spaces you think are great?

Is the room temperature never correct? Is it stuffy? Are the students dozing off? Are empty spaces being heated?

Is the wireless infrastructure inadequate for the video studies workshop?

Does the fixed furniture inhibit group activities?

On an Intelligent Campus rooms and spaces should used be efficiently, in comfort and with the suitable activities taking place.

Extensive, low cost, monitoring that is already rolling out across campuses. Data that will be collected includes:

  • Occupancy
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • CO2 levels
  • Lighting levels
  • Sound and noise levels
  • Network and wireless usage

If this data can be combined intelligently with other systems it will contribute considerably to the development of the Intelligent Campus.

Are there any practical examples?

A number of institutions are now starting to collect and interpret real time data from across their campus. For example, in an effort to improve space utilisation Cambridge University are implementing a system that collects live space usage data that reports through a web portal every 15 minutes. This is integrated with the rooming booking system to provide high quality reporting. A case study is available in University Business. This type of system could lead to changes in the management and timetabling of space.

A system could flag up block booked rooms are regularly unused and make them available to others.

Other developments may be possible. Could the length of bookings be flexible? Is an hour always the optimum time for a booking?

Similarly, could the data collected lead to variable, flexible course dates allowing better space utilisation across the calendar year?

Feedback from room users on their specific needs could be matched to available suitable spaces – these might even change from week to week as course requirements change.

Video monitoring of spaces could also gather data on the numbers of people using a space noting underuse or overcrowding, and suggesting other more suitable space.

Similarly in areas with seating for lectures, workstations or at desks, the seats themselves could collect data – truly the Internet of Things. This takes seat availability to a new level, beyond showing un-booked seats on a Virgin train or the open access computers availability at Edinburgh University. Unused bookings or the German towel method of reserving facilities could be revealed. The aggregation of this usage may well show low usage levels, for example 100 seat lecture theatres booked for courses of 100 that regularly only attract 50 students.

Clearly a very warm, stuffy room may lead to less alert students. The improved monitoring of rooms not only allows better temperature control but measuring a rising CO2 level could automatically trigger windows to open or air-con to be turned on.

The availability of extensive and detailed monitoring of rooms and spaces means that Georgia Tech’s Smart Energy Campus Program is able to quickly identify unusually high energy usage, and notify the facility team to rectify the problem.


What about ethical and other issues?

As with many Intelligent Campus developments there is a reliance upon high levels of monitoring to collect useful data. This inevitably raises ethical and security issues. The university or college will need to communicate the benefits to staff and students.

Who needs to be involved?

Unlike many other Intelligent Campus developments this Use Case does not need a wide range of departments to be involved. It will primarily be the responsibility of the facility manager and estates service with some input for the networking team and those responsible for timetabling.

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