Ensuring wellbeing

Use Case: Student Wellbeing on an Intelligent Campus

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What’s the issue?

As well as enabling a student to achieve their academic goals, colleges and universities have a responsibility for a student’s wellbeing. Their health, both physical and mental, security and safety, are all important to institutions. The development of intelligent campuses can offer considerable support for student wellbeing.

Safety and security

The intelligent campus is a safer and more secure campus. For examples intelligent street lighting is being developed as part of Future City Glasgow initiative. Street lighting will dim during quiet periods but the use of sensors to monitor movement and noise can bring up the lighting. The lighting could even be controlled by the approach of students via a signal from their mobile device.

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A range of apps are already available to help students to be safe at night. A typical example is the  Circle of Six app which keeps an individual in touch with their 6 most trusted contacts making it very easy to send help messages with their location coordinates. Apps could be integrated into the intelligent campus to provide help beyond their friends when a student is lost, worried, in trouble or in a dangerous situation. An example is GuardianSentral which works with campus security and safety systems such as emergency phones and campus police. It provides GPS tracking of individuals who are in danger. It can provide check-in facilities and an arrival time at a destination. A security alert is sent if the student does not check-in. If the student is feeling uneasy the app can ask campus police to monitor them via GPS or send an officer to escort them. If they are in immediate danger there is an urgent, call assistance button which also provides the police with their current location.

Linked to a student’s safety is drinking responsibly. It’s already possible to monitor alcohol drinking using apps like WiseDrinking which monitors an individual’s drinking, based on their size, gender, time of last meal etc. provides advice on unsafe drinking and helps with calling a taxi or using public transport. In future, on the intelligent campus a student could allow their drinking in campus bars to be monitored to allow student welfare services to be alerted when drinking is excessive.

Keeping healthy

Similarly the intelligent campus could provide students with help in eating healthily on a budget, providing healthy recipes and shopping advice. The Internet of Things could monitor fridge contents and food which is out of date.

There are a large number of mental health apps now available, many of which could help with student wellbeing. The University of Edinburgh student counselling service provides a useful review of a number of these apps. They look at issues such as panic attacks, wellbeing, mental health, anxiety and mood improvement. Coventry University’s CU Health and Wellbeing app “provides information to Coventry University Students on student support services, interactive maps to NHS providers and campus buildings, and emergency contacts and help.” While this app is not really taking advantage of intelligent campus developments it does demonstrate that universities and colleges are keen to improve the health and wellbeing of their students.

In future the intelligent campus could move beyond offering advice to monitoring student behaviour and intervening if necessary. If their typical behaviour in terms of alcohol consumption, coffee drinking, movement patterns, absence from lectures, missing meetings, etc. changes, alerts and interventions could be planned by tutors or student welfare services.

Keeping Fit

Many students and staff are now using wearable fitness trackers. These could be integrated with the intelligent campus, for example, providing walking routes around the campus to achieve activity targets. Campus communities of activity tracker users could be supported creating social opportunities and even a level of competition. The university or colleges sports facilities, programmes and courses could also be integrated with the individual’s fitness targets and goals providing further support. If confidentiality issues are not considered a problem, wearable fitness trackers could provide the intelligent campus with huge quantities of data about students. This could include their sleep patterns, or lack of sleep, since many activity trackers have basic sleep tracking facilities, others can provide heart rate data which could be used to provide information about individuals with high stress levels or other health issues.

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