Smart Colleges support Smart Communities

Source: Kenosha News

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Smart Future Summit hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Parkside.

Digi.City Founder Chelsea Collier kicked off the day by defining Smart organizations as those that use technology to reduce inequity and improve prosperity.

As we think about ways to move toward creating Smart Cities, we might consider using colleges as Petri dishes for this effort. There are a number of reasons that colleges would be an appropriate launch point for the smart movement. They are more densely populated than cities, with greater access to technology. They have the bandwidth and the wifi to accommodate 5G speeds and AI, as well as the facilities needed for the internet of things. And the population at colleges tends to be interested and acclimated to this sort of technology.

At the same time, campuses would face the same challenges that larger organizations might, most importantly the difficulty of bringing together many different sectors to collaborate: finance, facilities, student affairs, and constituencies like faculty, staff, students. The analog in cities, of course, would be government, industry, startups, colleges and universities, and advocates.

Carthage has very recently used a cross-functional team to improve registration and onboarding of new students. Students need to send information, fill out forms for health and roommates, register for classes, and complete a number of other tasks. Doing this technologically, on phones or computers, is more efficient, reduces inequity (different populations respond to a uniform situation differently), and improves prosperity (more students complete the process and enroll in college).

Our successful collaboration on this effort leads me to believe we are in a good position to partner around creating a smarter campus. Like cities, Carthage will need to make sure resources are available to all (such as having all of our web pages translated into any language. Did you know Kenosha residents alone come from 40 countries?). We need to use technology to see which people might be accessing resources at lower rates, and where we should redirect resources to help.

Some of our faculty are leading the way, using technology and data science to help government and community organizations provide more targeted aid in Racine and Kenosha Counties.

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