With a focus on safety and the opportunity to greatly enhance operations and the quality of research and learning, educational institutions could see significant gains by implementing computer vision with real-time federated analytics.

Computer vision is revolutionizing many industries but it’s still making inroads into education. That’s not surprising, given the historically tight budgets for many educational institutions. As the technology advances and becomes more mainstream in the commercial world, colleges and universities are likely to be the first adopters in the education realm.

With a camera infrastructure already in place on most education campuses, along with adequate district, campus and departmental networks, departments already have the infrastructure needed for computer vision.

What’s needed are scalable hyperconverged infrastructures (HCIs) that combine compute, networking, storage and software, enabling institutions to capture and analyze video, audio and other data at the edge to get real-time insights. A significant benefit to this approachof computer vision–powered analytics is that data can be ingested once, analyzed and then used in many different ways. To remove the risk in adopting this technology, an all-in-one computer vision system is preconfigured, right-sized and validated to work with an institution’s applications.

Let’s look at computer vision’s impact on education-related outcomes across five key areas: safety and security, the educational experience, operational efficiencies, sustainability and enhancing revenue.

Increasing the safety and security of students, staff, facilities and campuses

Safety and security are key requirements in all education institutions. One of the most common uses of computer vision today is to monitor premises, which includes the perimeter and interior of buildings. That data can be used to streamline biometric access control systems or automate incident control to protect occupants and deny entry to unauthorized persons. AI and machine learning analysis of video streams, still photos and audio feeds can assist security personnel with real-time situational awareness for things like finding missing persons and identifying those who should not be in a particular location, as well as providing predictive occupancy to help ensure that spaces remain under capacity limits to meet fire codes and social distancing measures.

Equally important is the safety of individuals from contaminants. Cameras along with air-quality sensors can feed data into a computer vision system to detect changes in the environment from hazardous materials or airborne chemicals. Any space can be monitored for air quality and ventilation to protect personal health and wellbeing.

Computer vision can also help individuals move about safely between buildings on campus and enhance real-time situational awareness for emergency personnel. For example, consider a student leaving the library at night. The student uses an app to notify campus security that they are heading to their dorm room. As cameras detect the student in motion, lights turn on to illuminate the path to the resident hall with security staff monitoring progress. A computer vision system can also integrate into a local city system to enable faster response times by law enforcement and first responders.

Realizing greater operational efficiencies through real-time actionable intelligence improves campus experience

Enhancing educational experience often also delivers operational efficiencies—streamlining a service benefits the business and the people who consume that service.

On a higher education campus, getting people to their destination with minimal effort can be accomplished through services like augmented-reality–based wayfinding, where digital signage and/or apps guide people to parking spots, buildings, offices and classrooms. Classroom and auditoriums can be configured for hoteling, which detects when an instructor walks into the room and automatically adjusts lighting, air temperature and the height of the podium per the instructor’s preferences.

Queue management is also made more efficient by computer vision. Computer vision insights are used to predict busy times at the bookstore, for example, by combining visual data with historical sales data. Potential wait times in the checkout line (or places like the registration office) can be alleviated through dynamic staffing, in which employees are pre-scheduled or shifted in real time to meet demand. In the future, students will be able to purchase books and supplies using touchless or frictionless technology, grabbing what they need and checking out automatically as they leave the store. 

Higher education campuses are like mini cities, many with their own power generation plants and water heating and cooling systems. A campus can operate like a smart city, using computer vision to control power consumption and water usage, as well as per-building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Based on historical usage patterns, outdoor smart lighting can be configured to automatically power off or use downlighting during daylight hours and light up the same areas after dark.

Data analytics derived through computer vision is also being used to help prevent students from dropping out of school. A major K-12 school district in the United States uses real-time federated analytics to combine visual factors with data from social media posts, academic reporting and other sources to classify types of at-risk students. Educators and counselors then use these insights, along with their personal observations, to offer student counseling and other resources to help students on their academic journeys.

How schools can reduce environmental impacts through sustainability measures via computer vision

Schools at all levels tend to be environmental stewards, looking to build a healthy future for their students, personnel and surrounding communities. For many administrators, running an eco-friendly school system and reducing their overall carbon footprint is a priority likely to extend well into the future.

So how does computer vision help?

Occupancy data generated by cameras can be used by building energy management systems to automatically adjust HVAC conditions in real time to ensure proper conditions for occupied spaces while conserving resources in spaces that are unused.

Data from cameras monitoring parking lots is integrated into digital signage systems and wayfinding to help to direct traffic to available parking spaces more efficiently, reducing emissions. The same principle applies to shuttles moving people to and from events at university stadiums, which will become even more fine-tuned as the use of autonomous driving vehicles with regulated speed and acceleration become the norm.

Generating revenue through computer vision in higher education

Colleges and universities, and even some private K-12 schools, compete to attract a certain caliber of students. While an institution with computer vision in place appeals to parents due to increased safety and security, recruiters can use computer vision for enhanced virtual tours and as a general draw that makes the campus a destination for students.

For example, research universities using computer vision’s real-time federated analytics offer students the opportunity to learn about and use the same tools as commercial industries, such as big pharma and healthcare, gaining valuable experience while pursuing a degree. Departments may be able to acquire funding, such as research & development grants, for computer vision through public entities and private corporations.

In the United States, college sports and entertainment events are a significant source of revenue. Using computer vision to increase the safety of stadiums and the people who use them, and make the fan experience easier and more enjoyable, can increase ticket and concession sales, boosting the revenue of those venues.

Having the capability to generate data insights at the right speed and velocity to make time-sensitive decisions can only improve overall safety. It also enriches the experience of the educational community, increases operational efficiencies, improves sustainability and enhances revenue generation. Consider where you can begin incorporating computer vision into your school to improve outcomes for your students, educators, staff and institution.

Learn more about how computer vision is positively impacting other industries.

The Future Is Computer Vision – Real-Time Situational Awareness, Better Quality and Faster InsightsComputer Vision Is Transforming the Transportation Industry, Making It Safer, More Efficient and Improving the Bottom LineHow Computer Vision is revolutionizing the Manufacturing Supply ChainHow the Sports and Entertainment Industry Is Reinventing the Fan Experience and Enhancing Revenues with Computer VisionHow the Retail Industry Can Improve the Customer Experience, Increase Safety and Maximize Margins Through Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence


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IT Leadership

The digital transformation of the education sector is accelerating at pace. You don’t need to look far to find powerful examples of how data is helping to enrich both student and educator outcomes. Gardens, Libraries and Museums of The University of Oxford digitised its collections and reduced storage costs by 50-60% and avoided a management cost increase of 13% with the cloud.

Anjanesh Babu of the University of Oxford worked with CirrusHQ to deliver the service. He said: “Cirrus HQ have been an engaging, proactive and learning partner for us. Every one of their team – from the account manager, to solution architects to accounts have a clear sense of dedication, purpose and focus putting the customer first. They are willing to learn and adapt from customer inputs which puts them solidly ahead in the partnership space. CirrusHQ are considered an extension of our internal team with shared expertise as well as knowledge.”

At the core of this transformation lies the need to leverage data and associated apps and services in a way that is agile, cost effective, secure and scalable. Migrating data, apps and services to a market-leading cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), delivers all of this and more. And working with a trusted AWS partner such as CirrusHQ can help education providers unlock the full potential of these benefits.

Bursting cloud-migration myths

Institutions are often concerned about losing control of their data, but cloud migration actually empowers data access and agility. Ultimately cloud migration, using a solution such as AWS, enables educators to focus more time, money and effort on delivering first-class outcomes rather than being distracted by the very real demands of running hardware and software.

Cloud services have evolved rapidly in recent years and many of the perceived barriers to migration no longer exist.

There are a couple of myths when it comes to the cloud. Firstly, that the cloud is too expensive. There is a cost of migration, but cloud providers such as AWS have reduced the total cost of ownership significantly. Cloud services generally now cost less than owning and managing a physical data centre.

The second myth is that the cloud isn’t secure. Market leaders, such as AWS, subject themselves to some of the strictest security controls and audits in the industry. The biggest risks instead now lie with apps and services which have been poorly designed by organisations themselves.

Six benefits of cloud migration in education

Cloud use cases can be found right across the education sector. For example, a step-change in innovation, performance and student provision can be achieved in administration and assessment processing, teaching practices, remote learning and continual professional development. Andre Zelenka, from Birkbeck, University of London said: “AWS Technology is vast and CirrusHQ have engaged with us to understand our requirements, propose a sensible way forward, and help us to execute that. All without recourse to AWS tech speak, smoothing the path for our projects.”

The wider benefits of cloud migration also include: 

Cost reduction – Education companies can, on average, save just under a third (31%) of data management costs.Digital transformation – Cloud isn’t just a great way to store data, it is transformational. For example, it enables public sector organisations to innovate and adopt an entrepreneurial ‘fail fast’ mentality, accelerating time to market.Agility, staff productivity and staff retention – AWS migration is shown to trigger a 66% boost in administrator productivity.Security and resilience – According to IDC, IT systems downtime costs the global economy up to $2.5 billion annually. With AWS, however, companies operate on one secure, robust platform, enabling superior governance.Avoiding vendor lock-in – Market-leading cloud services such as AWS do all the heavy lifting, making it easy for customers using end-of-life products to migrate their databases and servers to the cloud and modernise in a streamlined way. Organisations are urged, however, to take action before vendor lock-in becomes an urgent problem.Scalability at speed – Cloud services such as AWS enable education sector organisations to futureproof their IT ecosystems, scale at their own pace, with no limits, adding resources at the right time and expanding their cloud environment to meet changing needs and goals.

Finding the right partner

Organisations in the education sector looking to move to the cloud will need help throughout the migration process. The ideal partner will have AWS partner certifications, a high customer satisfaction score and case studies demonstrating that they follow best practice.

Proven industry experience in this fast-moving area is also essential. CirrusHQ, for example, has an AWS migration track record going back 15 years, and answers an average of 4,000 customer support requests every month.

It is also worth working with a migration partner with a good geographic spread, so you can be confident of support whenever and wherever you need it. CirrusHQ has capability to deliver in both the UK and EMEA.

To find out more about how CirrusHQ can help click here.

Education Industry

The shift to e-learning has changed education for good. Students and educators now expect anytime, anywhere access to their learning environments and are increasingly demanding access to modern, cloud-based technologies that enable them to work flexibly, cut down their workloads, and reach their full academic potential.

This means that institutions need to take a holistic approach to education technology (EdTech), including platforms used for teaching and learning, to not only meet these demands but to address ever-present challenges such as student success, retention, accessibility, and educational integrity.

However, for many embarking on this digital transformation journey and looking to more fully embrace EdTech, it can be daunting. Not only are IT leaders often faced with issues related to cost, infrastructure and security, but some solutions can make it challenging for schools to deliver inclusive, consistent educational experiences to all of their students. 

For example, some solutions may require an upheaval of existing tools and infrastructure, placing a strain on already-busy IT teams. Technology leaders are also looking to ensure the security of their schools’ digital ecosystem and that educators and students receive sufficient training in order to use these tools in the classroom.

Other EdTech solutions offer a one-size-fits-all approach to education, making it difficult for some students to keep up with online learning and for educators to adapt to pupils’ different needs. Similarly, while some solutions enable teachers and students to work and learn remotely, they struggle to adapt to hybrid teaching models.

Anthology’s learning management system (LMS), Blackboard Learn, takes a different approach. Designed to make the lives of educators and learners easier, Blackboard Learn creates experiences that are informed and personalised to support learning, teaching, and leading more effectively.

With students and teachers alike demanding more flexibility, Blackboard Learn can be used to replace or to supplement traditional face-to-face classes, enabling institutions to recognise the full benefits of a hybrid environment while ensuring nobody is left behind. For example, by providing personalised learning experiences, students are empowered to learn on-the-go and in ways that best meet their individual needs, ensuring educators can deliver inclusive, consistent experiences for learners of all abilities.

It also allows students to gain independence and become more autonomous. By providing real-time, data-driven insights, learners can keep track of their own progress, identify next steps, and get the support they need when they need it. These insights also enable educators to identify disengaged or struggling learners sooner to help promote more positive outcomes for students, while Blackboard’s customisable feedback ensures all students are on track for assessment success.

Anthology’s LMS can make life easier for IT leaders, too. The SaaS application code was built with security and privacy in mind and is LMS agnostic, ensuring seamless integration into the learning management system and existing workflows. What’s more, by using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, institutions benefit from continuous deliverability of smaller updates – which require zero downtime.

This also means that Anthology has the agility to develop capabilities and features quickly, such as its built-in accessibility and plagiarism tools. Because these features are out-of-the-box, institutions can save money while benefitting from a streamlined, scalable EdTech stack that can continue to evolve as they do.

With Blackboard Learn by Anthology, educators can rest assured they have the foundation of an EdTech ecosystem that equips all students and teachers with the flexibility to create more personalised learning experiences that support student success, while improving efficiency and setting their institution up for what’s to come in higher education.

For more insights into understanding student expectations, click here to read Anthology’s whitepaper.

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