It’s not just student devices that
are putting a strain on campus networks. A growing number of security
cameras, door locks, light switches,
thermostats and other building components contain networked sensors
that allow campus administrators
to control and monitor their functions remotely. And the number of
networked devices will continue to
explode in the coming years.
The universe of objects containing
microprocessors or embedded sensors
capable of communicating and transmitting information across networks is
called the Internet of Things, and it has
enormous implications for community
colleges. Already, many colleges are
saving time and money by monitoring and controlling “smart building”
features online, and the Internet of
Things is shaping the curriculum at
community colleges as well.
But there is a downside to this
burgeoning technology trend. For
instance, campus leaders will have
to consider its impact on student
and data privacy, as well as network
security. Then, too, there’s the issue
Adding connectivity to everyday
objects “really taxes the network
capacity of colleges,” Slimp says, “and
it’s only going to grow from here.”
20 BILLION DEVICES
Technology analyst Gartner estimates
that 8. 4 billion connected devices will
be in use worldwide by the end of the
year, up 31 percent from just a year ago.
The company expects that figure to
exceed 20 billion in the year 2020.
The New Media Consortium follows
technology trends that are likely to
affect colleges. The organization’s 2017
Horizon Report pegged the Internet of
Things as a significant development
that will have a big impact on higher
education in the next two to three
years. Already, 51 percent of commu-
nity colleges say they are actively
considering the potential of the
Internet of Things in their strate-
gic planning, the Center for Digital
Education says—up nine percentage
points from the prior year.
Besides smart building and security
systems, here are some other applications
of the Internet of Things that exist today
or are in development, according to the
Pew Internet and American Life Project:
• Devices that monitor patients’ vital
signs or other biomedical information
in real time and provide this informa-
tion to medical providers.
• Sensors in parking lots and on street
curbs that provide real-time information to commuters about the location
of available parking spaces.
• Roadways, bridges and other pieces of
infrastructure that give regular readings on the state of wear and tear and
provide alerts when repairs are needed.
• Paper towel dispensers in restrooms
that signal when they need to be
refilled. Trash cans that signal when
they need to be emptied.
“Securing the growing number of
networked devices on campus is
going to be a constant challenge.”
ROY BARTELS, chief technology and information security officer, Western Texas College
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's
technology program trains students
for in-demand jobs.