Campus is the perfect test lab

What We're Clicking On – February 26th, 2019
In our weekly news filter ‘What We’re Clicking On’, we share our thoughts on the most interesting articles relating to the future of cities, buildings and interiors.

University campuses – with all their facilities such as roads, shops, residential buildings, transport systems and other facilities such as gyms, pharmacies and banks and quite a large population – function in effect as tiny cities, according to an article in The Guardian. This resemblance with cities makes them an excellent environment for becoming a living lab, a test environment for smart cities.
In fact, many universities already are experimenting with smart city solutions on their campuses, reaching from a smart personalized digital assistant to equipping the entire campus and university stadium with sensors in order to monitor class attendance and crowd movement.
A big plus for university campuses functioning as smart city test beds is the fact that they are research institutions, being able to directly beta test and improve technologies and solutions. Besides, data gathered by the smart city sensors and tools could provide insights other types of academic research as well.
University campuses  have, because of their relatively homogeneous populations, quite a straightforward goal, focusing on the well-being and performance of students. Whereas real cities have to deal with a way more diverse population which leads to a wider and more complex variety of goals.
As in every smart city initiative, privacy regulation needs to be taken into account and the focus should be on generating and analyzing anonymous data intelligently to improve student experience and performance.

Increasing criticism is expressed on smart cities not taking into account the citizens when developing smart city strategies. A few weeks ago we wrote about the city of Detroit that allowed citizens to leave location-based comments on a digital map to point out what they like and don’t like about their city’s sustainability policy. The map was used a supplement of real-life interaction with citizens. Hello Lamp Post applies technology to these real-life encounters. It transforms existing street furniture into smart infrastructure by assigning numbers to objects which allow citizens to ‘communicate’ with these objects by texting or calling the number. In this way both residents and tourists can ask them questions about simple things such as way-finding but are also directed to answer questions around specific (smart city) themes. Hello Lamp Post creates an accessible and relatively cheap way to communicate with and engage citizens about what they think about their city. Before transforming existing infrastructure into smart infrastructure, the existing objects can be used to figure out how most value can be created for residents.

Technology contributes to an increasingly friction free routine. The more steady the routine, the easier for to create a friction free way of living, recreation, working and mobility takes place.
However, for uncommon and impactful events that do not occur on a daily basis (such as weddings and funerals) services and agencies exist to guide you through them. Onward responds to a different kind of impactful event: the break-up. By working together with several parties, it aims to create a “one-stop shop for moving out and moving on”. Onward put together a network of housing agencies, financial advisors, social institutions, mental health workers and retailers and bundled their services in three types of plans: from a 10-day reboot mostly dealing with logistics to a 3-month recalibrate including social care.
A service such as Onward fits perfectly in current urban developments: cohabitation doubled in the last decade (in the United States), the busy lives of city dwellers and the everyting-as-a-service trend.