Location Services – Friend or Foe for Higher Education?
Enriching the on-campus experience for students and faculty with actionable insights and assured access, while respecting data privacy fundamentals.
Location services and the benefits of deploying them are not a new concept to higher education communities. In fact, higher education institutions already understand and recognize the value they will gain from a location adoption. But in reality, Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) battery beacon deployment at scale has never been practical and held firm as the barrier blocking the technology benefits. Technology innovation is now virtualizing this BLE network layer, opening the door to more engaging, experience-first services and an unsurpassed level of data insight and intelligence informing strategies and steering investments. Juniper is the industry pioneer of virtualization of BLE beacons and stands alone in enabling customers to remove boundaries, embrace location at scale and reap the benefits that have been nothing more than a broken promise for so long.
One Virtual BLE (vBLE) Solution, Multiple Benefits
Today, location services can help universities deliver strategic objectives, including:
- Enhancing recruitment: Integrating virtual BLE (vBLE) navigation and mobile engagement with the university’s mobile app to create interactive, guided tours that will enrich campus open days and ensure the university puts on its best face when attracting new students.
- Supporting student retention: Analyzing footfall data to understand student engagement, enabling universities to identify those consistently engaging in campus life, and those not.
- Monitoring student health and wellbeing: Analyzing footfall data and student activity to identify withdrawn behavior potentially caused by health and wellbeing issues.
- Driving student engagement: Improving university to student communications in real-time through location and BLE technology to proactively engage with students, based on who they are, where they are and the time of day.
- Understanding attendance: Harvesting accurate footfall analytics to understand class attendance, flagging trends and anomalies to help drive attendance improvements and student success.
- Managing study space: Using BLE and footfall analytics to enable students and staff to effectively identify and book study spaces; saving time, enhancing the student experience and ensuring efficient use of available space (and especially relevant in the context of COVID-19 guidelines, below).
- Steering incident management: Using footfall analytics and mobile engagement to effectively identify and manage incidents to positive conclusion.
- Supporting COVID-19 guidelines: Using contact tracing, journey planning and congestion alerting to create a safer, secure environment for students and staff to return.
The Elephant in the Room: The Data Privacy Challenge
The contract between a university and the student is a non-negotiable foundation that underpins every education and research partnership. Higher education institutions are no different than any other organization when it comes to personal data and privacy legislation (i.e., GDPR).
Personal data protection is a fundamental citizens’ right. Yet, in a rapidly changing world where living with COVID-19 in our communities is now a fact of life, has the acceptability needle moved with students and faculty alike needing an assured safe and secure campus to which to return?
This isn’t to suggest that tracking student footfall with an ability to identify specific students is, or should be, compulsory: it is everyone’s human right to opt in or opt out and every strategy should adhere to that. However, we also know that embracing location services can create a safer campus environment and help to reduce the impact significantly if someone tests positive.
When integrated into a university’s app, BLE location services can provide sub-1 meter location accuracy and the ability to harvest footfall analytics for contact tracing, journey mapping, congestion alerting and dwell times. These are all essential elements to protect and keep students and faculty safe.
It is recognized that COVID-19 alone may not support a business case as justification for campus-wide location services, but it should be positioned as one significant and advantageous benefit among many.
Those who embrace vBLE technology and adopt location services within their core network strategy will benefit from new analytics, gaining access to an unprecedented level of intelligence and insight to drive new services and better experiences, reduce operational overheads and create a safer environment. Collectively, these powerful benefits build a compelling case for universities to consider embracing and adopting network-enabled location technology in the near term.
Location Services – What’s Changed and Why Now?
Technology evolves as manufacturers innovate. BLE virtualization (vBLE) from Juniper is a giant leap for location enablement, opening the door to practical location deployment at scale. It’s time to realize the long list of operational, financial and end user benefits and dump those physical BLE beacons that hinder the potential of this long-awaited technology.
To learn how Juniper can help your university, please visit our Higher Education Solutions page.
Gartner has named Juniper Networks as a Visionary in the 2021 Magic Quadrant for Indoor Location Services, Global. Download the report here.
The blog was originally published on Juniper’s website. It has been used here with permission from the provider.