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OpenGov speaks to William D Confalonieri, Deakin University, Australia

A smart university is a truly connected and allows for innovative technologies to be integrated with the campus lifestyle. This is all in the effort to better the student experience and provide more tools for success.

Deakin University, Australia’s eighth largest university with 52,000 students, is the first truly smart university in Australia. The smart campus initiative expects to boost student and staff engagement. This, in turn, will facilitate better learning development and help adapt the student body to the digital economy.

OpenGov recently spoke to Mr. William D Confalonieri, Chief Digital Officer/Chief Information Officer/Vice President, Deakin University. He drives the smart campus projects throughout Deakin University.

Deakin University began its journey towards becoming a smart university in the beginning of 2012. The university motto is ‘Driving the digital frontier’ and it represents their intent to differentiate themselves. Deakin is the first university in the world to use artificial intelligence to serve their students. This has assigned Mr.Confalonieri’s team with a great responsibility in the university.

On what drives these smart campus projects, Mr.Confalonieri told us, “We are very serious about taking advantage of all opportunities to meet our end goal of overall satisfaction and success of our students.” Deakin utilises advanced technology to improve student services and experiences and this differentiates themselves from other universities.

Deakin University’s library represents modernization at its best. The library services are integrating video analytics, sensor technologies, location service systems, and advanced inventory management systems into the Smart Campus platform.

If a student is looking to go to the library, they can use the platform to see which study spots are not occupied. This kind of intelligence is very useful to students as they can eliminate time searching for an open space, and spend more time studying. “Our Students are very happy and engaged with all of these new innovations. As we move into the new generation, the millennials will be the most important group at our university,” Mr.Confalonieri stated.

The library location service system is currently a pilot. Mr.Confalonieri and his team are working on making this a fully functioning project with many new features to be introduced in the next year.

To make these services accessible, Mr.Confalonieri and his team have consolidated them into a unified platform. “We do not have many mobile platforms, just one that responds individually to every student. It consolidates all of our services. For every student, a different experience is created. We have a Digital Passport to deliver the student an individualized experience. This is based off of the preferences and details of the student,” Mr.Confalonieri told us.

For example, if you are a first year student in medicine, you are seeing something completely different than what a third year student will see on the screen. Their platform responds to the personal profile and situation of each student, so as to create a unique and useful experience.

Students are quite satisfied with the level of services that Mr.Confalonieri and his team has provided. Students are directly involved with the Smart Campus efforts. Their demands and input are essential to the project meeting its end goal.

Mr.Confalonieri said, “While working on a project, we generally introduce a pilot to test and see if this system adds value to the student experience. We work with students by our side. We have them talking to us, working with us, injecting feedback on each of our projects. It makes this journey a lot more valuable.”

For 2016, Deakin University is looking to integrate many new technologies into their current platform. When we asked Mr.Confalonieri about what projects he will be working on in the next year, he said, “I cannot reveal that information but we have many projects in the pipeline that will keep us very busy.”

However, he did tell us that they plan on researching into and using artificial intelligence, immersive reality, predictive analytics, mobility, and cyber security to improve the campus experience. Using these frontier technologies, Deakin will continue to stay ahead in the Smart Campus space.

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