The Internet of Things could help simplify campus and facilities management.
“The quality of real-time information
that becomes available will take the guesswork out of much of capacity planning
and decision-making,” J.P. Rangaswami,
chief scientist for Salesforce.com, predicts
in a Pew survey. The net effect will be to
reduce waste and improve efficiency in
the movement of people and goods.
However, the technology also creates
new challenges for campus leaders.
“Our notions of privacy and sharing
will continue to evolve as a result,” Pew
notes, “with new tradeoffs needing to be
understood and dealt with.”
PRIVACY AND SECURITY
Community college leaders will have to
consider the privacy implications of all
of this data sharing.
For instance: Who “owns” the data
generated by networked sensors? How
will this information be stored so that
it remains secure? What are the expectations for privacy among students,
staff, patients, and others whose movements or performance may be tracked
and monitored? Will campus leaders
have to draft new policies to fill gaps
where laws such as FERPA and HIPAA
now fall short?
Adding more networked devices
also gives hackers more opportunities
to infiltrate campus networks.
Recently, so-called Distributed Denial
of Service (DDoS) attacks have begun
targeting the Internet of Things. These
attacks involve using a network of computers to overwhelm a website or server
with so many messages that it can’t
handle the load and is incapacitated.
In the past, DDoS attacks were accom-
plished by hijacking computers with
malicious software and turning them
into a robot network, or botnet, to send
the messages. Now, there is software avail-
able on the Deep Web that compromises
Internet-connected devices that people
typically don’t think of as computers,
such as networked security cameras, and
uses them as botnets instead.
“There are a large number of people
in the world whose main goal is to
upset everybody else,” says Roy Bartels,
chief technology and information
security officer for Western Texas
College, who has presented with Slimp
about the Internet of Things and its
implications for colleges. “Securing
the growing number of networked
devices on campus is going to be a constant challenge.”
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INSTRUCTION
But where there’s a challenge, “there’s
also a workforce development opportunity for colleges,” Slimp says.
Because other organizations will
face the same challenges, there will be
a growing need for network and information security specialists, he noted.
Community colleges also will play a
key role in training students for new
jobs created by the Internet of Things,
such as designers of wearable technology or grid modernization engineers.
Some colleges already have developed
new programs to meet these workforce
demands. For instance, Springfield
Technical Community College in
Massachusetts has added courses and
labs in its electronic systems engineering technology program that teach
students how to program and connect
sensors to send data across wired and
wireless data networks. Three Rivers
College President Carol
Spalding has embraced
technology in her job.