Tag: Dell Technologies

Smart Campus, Safe Campus

By Randy Lack, safety, security and computer vision manager for the Americas, Dell Technologies.

Randy Lack

Many colleges and universities are working to take advantage of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to build “smart campuses” that promise new peace of mind for students and their families and a better overall experience for all who set foot on campus.

Schools are the largest market for video security systems in the U.S., with an estimated $450 million spent in 2018. Adoption will continue to increase as IoT-enabled security solutions come onto the scene—empowering colleges and universities to do more than monitor security cameras and investigate after-event footage.

New kinds of devices and powerful analytics, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are transforming cameras and sensors from passive data collectors into intelligent observers with the ability to recognize and alert security to potential problems, provide real-time insight during unfolding events, and help identify patterns to proactively deter and prevent problems.

Smart IP cameras with “computer vision” can learn over time to recognize patterns and behaviors in order to zero in on suspicious activity and better predict the likelihood of events. These cameras, combined with sensors that can detect sound, temperature, vibration, chemicals and more, form a system that can alert security to potential problems by relying on insights delivered from analytics-driven interconnected IoT devices.

As a result, security teams can help improve response, share critical information with first responders, make better use of available resources, and help prevent situations from escalating or in some cases, help prevent them from occurring in the first place.

The following are just some of the innovative secure-campus applications being deployed today:

The need for a holistic, integrated approach

To take advantage of these applications, it’s important to understand that security is no longer confined to self-contained, standalone systems and departments. With IoT, campus safety becomes a widely distributed, networked, and data-driven solution, with new requirements for shared campus policies and IT modernization across infrastructure, security, data management, analytics, operations, software development, and more.

Indeed, many HiEd safety solutions require integration with security and IT organizations beyond the physical campus. For example, a large urban campus in southern California and surrounding city government are working together to tie together data from campus, municipal and even the shuttle buses that transport students to and from the city for cultural and sporting events. The solution being developed also enables city and campus police to log in to each other’s systems when coordinated efforts are needed.

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Lessons Learned As A University CIO

By Chris Wessells, senior higher education strategist, Dell Technologies.

Christopher WessellsA university CIO is responsible for myriad responsibilities related to improving and maintaining technology and services in support of institutional goals. Still, to do that effectively, the job goes far beyond what many typically consider as part of the role.

Hiring engineers and IT specialists? That’s part of your requirements, in addition to protecting personal information of students and faculty, ensuring there is a high-performance infrastructure, as well as providing effective systems and IT services to meet institutional requirements.

A CIO needs to have a variety of skills to succeed, including being capable of managing people and change while also considering financials, managing a budget, balancing technology responsibilities and keeping cybersecurity top-of-mind.

Having served as a CIO at prominent four-year universities in the United States, I learned that in addition to the responsibilities outlined above, the role of a CIO is an ever-changing position that requires constant evolution and adaption to meet the needs of a heavily technology-driven community.

Some of the most important lessons I learned include:

1) Relationships are as important as technology

I quickly learned that building relationships with executive decision-makers was crucial to the success of institutional initiatives. Building bonds with business unit leaders from facilities management to public safety to athletics can be as essential at the relationships with the provost, deans and academic department chairs. That is, the CIO should cultivate and maintain healthy relationships at all levels of the university, which can lead to allies in digital transformation efforts.

Being connected with students is equally important. I found having a student technology advisory committee was an excellent way to listen to student needs, gain insights on how to improve IT services and build trust with the student community.

Building a strong IT leadership team also enables CIOs to form better relationships on campus that will assist in implementing new academic and administrative initiatives.

2) Enforcing shared governance is a must

One common CIO mistake is dictating change without receiving input from others on campus. This is why shared governance, placing the responsibility, authority and accountability for decisions on those who will use the technology, should be a top priority.  Shared governance with the academic community is essential to being successful.

Higher education CIOs should be shifting responsibilities from operating technology to more strategic governance responsibilities. Students and faculty are the primary constituents that require technology and services from a campus IT organization, so naturally, CIOs should consider their requirements when assessing and implementing new solutions. For example, before purchasing new classroom instructional technology, it is crucial to consult faculty on those matters; and include faculty in pilot projects and testing.  This approach often leads to better decisions that are made collaboratively, rather than having IT simply dictate decisions from a technical standpoint.

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