Skip to main content

Smart cities need smart schools: See how technology is making it happen

Submitted by doug.peeples on September 2, 2015

Schools and universities face many of the same issues and problems as cities: tight budgets, aging infrastructure and growing populations straining existing resources and services. To deal with those, many schools are adapting smart cities strategies and approaches to take better advantage of existing resources and improve their performance in several areas.

Energy efficiency increasingly important for schools
Council Lead Partner Schneider Electric and The Alliance to Save Energy conducted a survey of higher education facility leaders to gauge their interest in energy efficiency. Surprisingly, 96% of the survey participants believed energy efficiency plays a crucial role in helping schools accomplish their mission -- and 86% intend to maintain or increase their investments because it is the most cost-effective way to take care of their energy needs. While many named organizational problems and the need for assistance in designing energy efficiency programs, the great majority of educators surveyed understand its importance in cutting carbon emissions and power bills.

For example, Schneider Electric conducted an energy audit for the Marshall County School system in Guntersville, Alabama. "Schneider Electric has completed an energy analysis audit and we'll be able to save 28% [of the] cost for utilities,"  Superintendent Cindy Wigley said. With the upgrades identified in the audit, the district expects to save $14 million over a 20-year period. The air, heating, lighting and water system upgrades are budgeted for so the money saved will be used for needed facilities maintenance, which will benefit the students.

Improved security
Anyone following news reports over the past couple years would not be surprised to find that schools are focusing more attention and resources on security for students and faculty. In January 2014, a Purdue University student stabbed another student. The situation could have been even worse if university police, the local police department and sheriff's department had been unable to arrive at the scene in a very short time. The rapid response was made possible because the campus police department uses Council Associate Partner SunGard Public Sector's OneSolution, which allows information entered into the system to be accessible to all law enforcement agencies.

Hawaii's Punahou School presented a challenge when officials determined they needed to improve security. The school is an open campus with no interior hallways so there are numerous points of access. They turned to Council Lead Partner Cisco for a major system upgrade that included its Video Surveillance IP Cameras and its Video Surveillance Media Server Software. Read Cisco's case study to learn more about the project.

Software development and consulting company Invid, which is affiliated with Council Lead Partner Microsoft, took a different approach for the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao -- a mobile application that allows students and faculty to report incidents or medical emergencies directly to campus police. Watch the UPRH Alert video for more on the application and how it works.

Promoting classroom success...

  • 8 Essentials for Mobile Learning Success is a white paper from Council Lead Partner Qualcomm that suggests best practices and proven solutions to address the most common challenges related to mobile learning.
  • The Intel Education Accelerator is investing up to $100,000 each in eight education technology startups that are working to improve education in innovative ways. In addition to working capital, the global investment and education divisions of Council Associate Partner Intel provide the companies with a four-month program that includes veteran mentors and dedicated work space.


Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.