Smart Initiative brings latest technology to students, faculty

Published September 12, 2018

The campus continues to get smarter every semester.

This fall, students living in Beachside Housing will be able to use their campus identification card, newly renamed “One Card”, to access Beachside rooms and residence halls as part of the University’s Smart Campus Initiative. The newly implemented wireless door electronic entry system will improve security and convenience, as well as expand the One Card use.

Corry Colonna, Executive Director of Housing, called the electronic entry system an “important step into the future, utilizing the best technologies to provide for our students a superior housing experience.”

In addition to electronic entry to rooms and residence halls without the need for traditional keys, students are able to pay for meals, laundry, and printing with the One Card as well as pay for purchases at shops on and around the campus.  Future services for One Card could be paying shared transportation to campus, managing attendance at campus events, and allowing students to submit online identification photos.

“Smart Campus Initiative is a strategic action to gradually and consistently enhance our learning, teaching, and research environment with technology and to make our campus business services more efficient,” said Dr. Min Yao,Vice President and CIO.

The Smart Campus Initiative, launched in 2016, aims at making the University services more user-friendly by implementing existing and emerging technologies that increase efficiency, save money, and enhance experiences for students, faculty, and staff.

“We are on track to be a leader in creating a no-barrier learning environment for our students. In addition, we want to provide our faculty and staff with an efficient and technology-friendly work environment,” President Jane Close Conoley said.  “We see technology as a means of helping us realize our vision to be one of the best public universities in the nation. The Smart Campus Initiative paves the way for us to achieve our strategic goals of academic rigor, inclusive excellence, innovation and public good.” 

The initiative has four pilot work streams – eSignature, Digital Signage, Digital Wayfinding, and One Card. Other innovative digital services also are in various stages of implementation including a student virtual computer lab, digital time and attendance reporting, cloud email, and a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. The services are detailed below:

Student Virtual Lab was implemented through a partnership between the Division of Information Technology and Academic Technology Services.  It provides students with 24-hour remote access to expensive university licensed software used for classroom instruction and assignments at no student cost, and on any computing device. Software licenses currently available for use in the Student Virtual Lab are ArcGIS, Minitab, MATLB, SAS, SPSS, Office 2016 and Web Browsers.

Central High-Performance Computing Service gives faculty a shared, fast and powerful computing and data storage environment, where they can conduct research projects that require a large amount of high-speed computational resources and data storage space.

Digital Signage (eDisplay) is gradually and systematically replacing static signage on campus with electronic displays that interactively show office locations, faculty and staff directory, building floor plans, and timely information for students, visitors, faculty, and staff.  The management of the eDisplay system is distributed to colleges and offices and linked to the campus emergency notification system.  In the event of a need, an emergency notice can be quickly broadcast to all electronic displays across the campus. 

Digital Wayfinding will be a service designed to guide students to campus locations by displaying information on both wayfinding kiosks located around campus and mobile devices, such as smart phones. The Division of Information Technology and Physical Planning and Facilities Management are partnering to implement Digital Wayfinding.

Cloud-based Email/Calendar Service delivers anywhere anytime email and calendar services through Microsoft Office 365 cloud service to faculty, students, and staff.  The cloud-based email and calendaring service significantly increased email storage while saving approximately $175,000 a year.

Beach Bites is a mobile food app developed through a partnership between the Division of Information Technology and Division of Student Affairs.  The mobile app alerts students, who are iOS or Android users, to available food from on-campus catered events and meetings.

Digitizing Time and Attendance Report is being implemented by Staff Human Resources to replace the paper employee attendance reporting process.  It saves time and saves paper.

Digital RTP is a project being implemented by the Office of Faculty Affairs, aiming at converting the paper-driven reappointment, tenure and promotion review process for faculty into an electronic process to save time and reduce paper usage.

Faculty Research Experience and Expertise database is a Web-enabled tool for the campus community and the general public to search faculty by their expertise and research specialty.  It also assists faculty to search for potential research partners across disciplines and helps students to look for potential faculty mentors.

For more information about the Smart Campus Initiative, please visit