There are numerous software applications that allow Universities and Colleges to create wifi heat maps. This is a very competitive market with many different free, freemium and charged for products.
The Jisc Technologies Wireless Advisory Service in 2015 recommended the Ekahau product for both mapping existing wifi networks and for planning new networks. Jisc Technologies published a guide on how to do this a few years ago.
As part of the intelligent campus discovery phase, the use of data from heat map software was seen as a potential data source for institutional analytics.
So why are heat maps useful for the intelligent campus?
We know they help IT teams understand where there are challenges and issues with wifi coverage, allowing them to move or add wireless routers to the network to ensure better coverage and experience for learners.
However could we use the data from these heat maps to see if we could make other interventions and improve the student experience?
It may not be just about adding wireless routers, if we know where wireless devices are being used extensively on a campus, could we ensure that those spaces are suitable and appropriate for learning? Conversely if there are learning spaces which we have already, but the heat maps show us they are been under-utilised, could we reflect on the reasons why?
Could we combine the wifi heat maps with maps of air quality, temperature and see if there are environmental issues that may have an impact of student wellbeing? Would we then turn off the wifi in order to nudge students to a different location on campus?
Currently a lot of universities and colleges have systems such as wifi heat mapping, these are often narrow systems with a focus on one aspect. Wifi heat maps are about improving the wifi. If we could bring the data from wifi heat maps and undertake analysis with data from other systems, could we have a better idea of how to improve the campus, enhance the student experience and a positive impact on learning?
What do you think?