IoT in Higher Education: How DDI Enhances User Experience

This week’s blog comes to us from our very own Paul-Emile Bellaloum, Global Project Delivery Manager.

Universities and IoT- user experience

Students and faculty alike have high expectations for campus network user experience.

Different surveys show that more than 80% of students believe personal information will transform their higher education experience. Today’s students are comfortable sharing their personal information, but they expect more in return from schools when they do. Just like with an app, they prefer to “give to get” when it comes to data.

IoT is seen as a valuable means of gathering data, and universities are eagerly leveraging this data to improve the student experience both inside and outside the classroom. But identification of all IoT devices, while securing access, are major challenges. Knowing details on each IoT device connected will be the main success criteria for all universities to win this college experience. DDI (DNS-DHCP-IPAM) is the key to this: it provides details of what the devices are, where they are connected, how long they have been there, if they are allowed to be there, how they got there, and who owns them.

Taking advantage of IoT to improve user experience

Most of us are already familiar with IoT devices – our smart TVs, smart watches and IP cameras all fall into this category. Some analysts predict that by 2020 there will be anywhere between 20 and 100+ billion connected devices. Many such devices could have a direct impact on the residential education experience – in accommodation halls, study lounges, desks, whiteboards, dining halls, parking lots, air conditioning systems, etc. What if the data extracted from these devices could be triangulated and used to improve student success and well-being?

In most universities, connecting to campus-wide Wi-Fi using a personal device allows users to access information based on their location e.g. to inform visitors of historical or local facts, or students/staff to check the availability of study rooms. Some universities are now even considering integrating wearables in order to track students’ health and better cater to students’ needs. Exciting stuff, but it all needs to be carefully managed and controlled.

Keep visibility and control of your network through DDI

In their DNS-DHCP-IPAM market guide, Gartner highlight the importance of DDI for IoT initiatives. The guide recommends: “include DDI as a prerequisite to any large IPv6 deployment or centralized Internet of Things (IoT) initiative. IoT initiatives require a massive number of devices (often millions), and centrally managing IP services at this degree of scale requires robust DDI solutions.”

DDI is undoubtedly the key component for giving universities the ability to engage in that battle. University administrators need visibility on available IP space across all devices – which is what IP Address Management (IPAM) is all about. Naming and identification of all IoT devices to track and maintain performance can be done through DHCP leases and network discovery tools. When combined, IPAM & DHCP provide every connected device a unique IP address – which is named, organized, measured, optimized, and tracked.

Linking self-registration portals to DDI for faster device capture

Once equipped with a smart DDI to provide protection and visibility to administrators, universities can create an optimized college experience. For instance, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts offer a self registration portal to their students, allowing them to connect all their devices easily. It also enables administrators to monitor usage and disable access when needed. Capturing those devices automatically in DDI was key to WPI, as it allows the university to collect students’ data and use it to provide enhanced user experiences (like providing entry to events and buildings after hours or tracking how students work in collaborative workspaces). With other IoT devices also being tracked in the same global DDI system, WPI can meet students’ insatiable demand for knowledge and allow them to transform their experience at school.

Securing access is crucial for protecting both users and sensitive data

With an innovative DDI solution in place, universities can start thinking of enhancing user experience and reap many benefits from IoT devices, without being scared by the massive amount of data needing to be handled. However, security for students becomes a critical aspect due to number of connected devices. For that, lots of universities are just referring to NAC (Network Access Control) to protect their people. This is great technology indeed and can protect your valuable IP but this will not block known malware from entering over the WAN connection, or prevent users with authorized access from making inappropriate use of data. Using a secured and robust DNS solution with ACLs (Access Control Lists) is the only way to fully protect end users, secure access to powerful apps, and save integrity of the entire University network.

Towards happy users on your campus

IoT has tremendous potential to make education more relevant, to engage and motivate students and staff, and to increase speed of learning. Smart DDI helps create a better environment for students, staff, parents and visitors, leading to a frictionless, pleasant education experience.

 

Learn how Worcester Polytechnic Institute streamlined their DNS-DHCP-IPAM infrastructure for better management.
Read the case study here.