7. Security


Features of the intelligent campus offer the potential to enhance security for users and the physical assets of the campus. CCTV is nothing new, but with remote control of cameras, linked with real time notifications to security staff, availability of digital floor plans and control of alarms, locks and access systems, a wide range of new benefits for campus users could become available. This could include facilities for individuals such as mobile panic buttons and alerting systems. Issues such as bullying (including cyberbullying) and harassment, criminal activity or emergencies could all potentially be dealt with by harnessing such technology. The range of emergencies that could be handled more effectively include natural disasters, medical emergencies or violent attacks. Monitoring where people are and their movement, providing information and assisting the emergency services have been shown to be of value in a number of incidents in the US. However, ethical issues including privacy and consent are also critical, as covered in the previous section.

Device security

The proliferation of devices connected through the internet, including embedded and wearable devices, is often referred to as the internet of things (IoT). It has led to concerns about vulnerability to hacking and other attacks, and the safety of data collected. The devices are typically specialised for a particular function (eg a webcam) and don’t have the sophisticated software available to desktop or mobile computers. In many cases this means they are produced with the minimum functionality to perform their task, and security features can often be omitted, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Furthermore they may run only with the factory installed software and be difficult to “patch” with updated features.

This may be a problem that is only corrected over time as device manufacturers and their users become more aware of the dangers and are willing to pay the extra cost for added safety. Device users can currently check more carefully about what the device can and can’t do, what can be accessed and by whom, and whether any updates are available. The local IT department may offer guidance and support on how best to use devices for effective integration with the campus infrastructure.

It may be appropriate to also consider what level of security is needed, depending on the type of data and the criticality of the device. For example, what consequences are there if the temperature sensor of a building is hacked? This may reveal information about the actual temperature, but it is probably more serious if the controls of the heating system were compromised. It may be more important to focus on securing the processing and integrating of the data and the subsequent decisions and actions taken from interpreting the data.


Jisc provides guidance and services to universities and colleges on cyber security and managing IT networks safely, including key issues of relevance to the intelligent campus. These include:

  • Viruses and hacking – of particular concern with the proliferation of devices and the Internet of Things
  • Authentication – ensuring the right people have access to the right data in line with appropriate transparency and consent
  • Encryption – making the transmission of data between devices and systems safe from unauthorised access and supporting the integrity of that data
  • Secure storage – protecting the gathered data in a safe location
  • Backups and data loss prevention – systems and procedures to guard against loss or damage of data

All of the above need careful consideration in effectively implementing systems and applications to support the intelligent campus features. In addition, the wider IT and network infrastructure needs to be fit for purpose and able to support the intended applications. This may include having a reliable network of sufficient bandwidth to allow intelligent solutions and interoperability of systems and services to support the integration and exchange of data.

Ethics and security are perhaps the biggest concerns of campus users when aspects of the intelligent campus are discussed. Approaching both aspects with careful consideration of the limitations and opportunities of interconnected smart devices is important. In addition a full appreciation of those impacted is critical to ensure that design and implementation of new applications is carried out for maximum impact.

Leave a Reply

The following information is needed for us to identify you and display your comment. We’ll use it, as described in our standard privacy notice, to provide the service you’ve requested, as well as to identify problems or ways to make the service better. We’ll keep the information until we are told that you no longer want us to hold it.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *