Monash University looks to a 'smart' future through big data

Partnering with Honeywell Building Solutions, the Melbourne-based university will be leveraging big data to change the way students and staff interact with its Clayton campus.

Monash University has announced a partnership with Honeywell Building Solutions that will see automated "smart" environments deployed throughout one of its campuses.

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The Honeywell Vector Occupant App will be deployed across the university's Clayton, Victoria campus to collect data on how staff and students rate spaces, navigate buildings, and report faults, as well as how and when buildings are accessed.

The pair will use "big data" to enable Monash's buildings to "intelligently and automatically" alter the internal environment. They hope to transform the way staff and students interact with the university, in what they labelled one of the world's first cognitive office buildings.

Monash Faculty of IT Dean Professor Jon Whittle said the size of the Clayton Campus and its energy requirements are similar to a small city.

"As Australia's largest university, with more than 78,000 students, 16,000 staff, and over 150 buildings spread across four domestic campuses, we're a significant consumer of energy," he said in a statement.

"The team at Monash, working together with Honeywell, are changing the way building performance data can be used to help mitigate risk, enhance business continuity, and reduce operational costs."

The data will feed into Honeywell's Command and Control Suite based in the Future Control Room at Monash for data visualisation. The research outcomes will contribute to the broader Monash University Net Zero initiative, in which Monash aims to achieve the ambitious net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

"Using Monash University buildings, we want to bring a new level of intelligence -- a brain if you will -- allowing them to service their occupants in ways we might never have thought possible," vice president of Honeywell Building Solutions Asia Pacific Karl Mahoney said.

Curtin University similarly announced last year it was transforming its 300,000 square metre campus into a "smart" one through the deployment of sensors and analytics technology from Hitachi.

The Perth-based university, which has more than 60,000 students and 4,000 staff, is looking to obtain information on how buildings and spaces such as car parks are used, as well as study patterns and course attendance.

At the time, Keith Roscarel, director of public safety and smart cities at Hitachi Asia Pacific, told ZDNet that the university is feeding video and other sensor data into an analytics engine, as well as testing facial recognition and "people counting" technology to monitor student attendance.

Melbourne's Deakin University has also been working with Cisco and Dimension Data on a number of smart campus initiatives to personalise experiences for its staff and students. Deakin allows students via mobile apps and digital signage to see which parts of the library are most crowded, request assistance, and check out books.

Cisco, alongside SAS and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), last month announced the launch of a new Internet of Things (IoT) research and teaching facility expected to help businesses improve decision-making, build organisational capacity, and apply streaming data analytics at the edge.

The UTS-SAS-Cisco IoT Innovation Lab will combine SAS analytics, Cisco hardware and software, and the university's expertise in data engineering to explore how to gather, store, and analyse the data potentially billions of IoT devices are going to generate.

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