Tapping into tech for smart student housing
Four tech solutions for a smoother hostel life
What are the chances that you would ever stand in queue again to book your train tickets? Or would you visit your nearest shop to recharge your phone? Chances of that happening now are pretty slim.
But guess what? That’s exactly what we used to do until a few years ago. However, over the last decade, with the influx of technology, there are now a million apps for almost everything under the sun. Life hasn’t been the same.
In spite of technological advances in all other sectors, tech hasn’t really made much inroads into our educational institutions and universities. The very talent that makes tech products for every industry hasn’t had many tech products built for their campuses.
Let’s take the example of a college hostel. If a student has to raise a request for a leaky tap in his/her room, they have to raise the complaint with the warden, record it in a register, and wait till the issue has been resolved.
Imagine if this could be replaced with an app to raise a complaint, track it real time and resolve it. The entire manual process of raising a complaint and keeping a track of it can be done through an app. Similar to how MyGate has revolutionised apartment management in India, a tech based solution can change the way hostels and student accommodation is managed.
These are some of the areas where tech can play a huge role:
This is one of the crucial components in campus, and if managed well, it can reduce costs for the institution. Students eat about four meals a day. A detailed analytics on various parameters will help management to be more efficient with meal planning.
Implementing a system where we know students’ dietary patterns along with the nutritional requirements for each of them will help them plan meals that suit their needs and choices. Before every meal, students can RSVP through the app. Based on this data, over time, the hostel kitchen can figure out the kind of meals most students prefer or turn up for, the expected number of students on a daily basis for each meal and the number of plates that need to be prepared on a daily basis. This in turn can be linked to the inventory system of the mess, which will actually help the mess manager with their budgeting, inventory planning, and meal management.
Currently, most students have to physically apply for leave through a manual process and approach multiple people for approval. Instead of a pen and paper process and multiple layers of approval, the whole process of leave management can be simplified through an app based system.
A student can raise a leave request from his/her app, and the concerned authorities are automatically notified. Once the leave is approved by the authorities, the student will automatically be issued a gate pass via the app, which he can show at the gate and leave. This removes any unnecessary paperwork and makes the process hassle free.
Currently, all maintenance related requests are managed manually. If there’s a bulb to be replaced, the student has to approach the warden and raise a request.
Daily maintenance issues reported by students and timely intervention is key to ensure that problems don’t escalate and costs don’t increase.
Most institutions have some sort of pen and paper mechanism to note down maintenance related complaints. The first step is to transition to a digital mode if they haven’t already done so.
Next will be to look at the analysis of the kind of issues that are reported most of the time. Once these systems are run over a significant amount of time, the organisation can have enough data generated to leverage some AI models.
Manual methods of security management in a large campus are not viable. Though most campuses promise facilities like CCTV cameras, they are more of a reactive solution. Proactive solutions like biometric scans and facial recognition are the need of the hour. This will help in real time tracking of student attendance in hostels.
AI for Data Driven Insights
In all of the above mentioned aspects of student housing, a lot of data gets generated that is currently not used or easily available for key decision makers in educational institutions for forward planning. This can lead to very costly errors and wastage.
AI can play a key role in providing data driven actionable insights. These insights not only help institutions to streamline their operations but also lead to significant cost savings and improved student satisfaction.
Guest contributor Anamik Adhikary is the Director of Engineering at SpaceBasic, an AI startup that is digitising hostels and student living communities. Any opinions expressed in this article are strictly that of the author.