Real-time space usage monitoring #theta2015

A Real-time Step into Space (abstract)
Kim Tairi and Shane Skidmore

Slides online

Swinburne a young, mid-sized university, focused on “science, technology and innovation”. Difficult times – needed to merge three collections into one and already getting feedback that students wanted more silent study space.

Worked with Facilities to open satellite spaces – outside library but managed by them and mediated by librarians shushing people – Kim’s not a fan of shushing but students want it! Lots of power, strong wifi, etc.

Other part of strategy was to create a student study space app. Derek Whitehead was at shopping centre that had just installed a parking guidance system and realised was dealing with same problem that libraries have. Came back, talked to people, budgeted for it.

With satellite spaces, marketing, and study space app, complaints dropped 81%.

Platform was Blackboard mosaic. Used html5 so a webapp [good for cross-platform usability]. Can bookmark favourites, link to maps. Simple – built by an IT student on placement. Built on “Cognimatics TrueView Counter system” cameras placed above entrance to area to detect when people move in and out, to create a count. REST API polls this once a minute, updates MySQL database with a count. (Cameras set back to 0 at midnight each day to compensate for any inaccuracy.)

Not aware of other universities doing this. [I think places in the US have? Also University of Canterbury (used to?) have a similar system but based on who’s logged in in computer workroom.]

Think there are broader applications – could put it on different rooms to indicate availability – use in conjunction with timetables. At Swinburne if not being used for teaching then students can use it, so lots of possibilities. Could be useful for space utilisation generally.

Some next-gen cameras can look at an area and count heads.

Q: How did this come up, politically.
A: Have a student rep group so worked with them, have checked in and will continue to survey if it’s working for them.

Getting to a tipping point re use of space. Numbers through the gates dropping. First generation this year where they’ve come through schools with laptops throughout their career. Shift is about to happen so have to be very careful how we use campuses and spaces.

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