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Articles: Software

When most people think of video surveillance, they think of a Big Brother scenario, where their every move is being monitored. And after a campus tragedy, such as the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007, pundits debate whether video surveillance might have prevented the tragedy. But at colleges and universities, these electronic eyes do much more.

We spoke to three security experts to discuss how video surveillance technology has changed to make surveillance far more intelligent and effective. Our panelists are:

The campus network is home to thousands of student residents while at the same time hosting key administrative servers containing private personal information. Yet in most universities the network administrators are expected to maintain an "open network environment" that allows free access in and out of the campus.

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when trying to convey complex ideas. At Purdue University (Ind.), a home-grown smartphone app lets students easily incorporate mobile video components into class assignments and share them with teachers and other students.

Called DoubleTake, the app was developed by the university's information technology staff and is available through the iTunes App store. An Android-based version is in the works as well.

Digital signage has existed on campuses in some form for decades. Originally, it was standard television sets embedded in the wall with a slow crawl of text showing campus news. Now, high-quality flatscreens display live TV, text, and information tickers all at the same time.

The judging has begun on the next round of Models of Efficiency entries, the first of three installments for 2011. We continue to be encouraged by the number of entries that are coming in for each round, a sign that colleges and universities are eager to share their stories about how they saved time or money with technology enhancements or business process improvements.

But not everyone can be named a Models of Efficiency honoree, so I'd like to take a minute to talk about why some entries fall short of the mark.

Based on Twitter, blogs, and web conferences, it looks like everybody in higher education is talking about check-ins, Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla, and SCVNGR. No matter where they work, from liberal arts colleges to big state universities, many web communication and online marketing professionals have already adopted location-based services (LBS). More and more have been busy claiming the Facebook Place for their institution, creating a Gowalla tour, applying for the Foursquare University Program, or setting up their first SCVNGR trek.

There are 18 million college students, 40 percent of whom receive federal financial aid every spring and every fall. The average student, after class drops and other adjustments, gets 2.5 refunds totaling $1,300. That's a lot of money and a lot of transactions that have to be made according to a stringent set of regulations.

With the rising cost of higher education a challenging reality for students and educators, affordability is being addressed by legislation on both state and federal levels. For example, institutions are being urged to explore cost savings for students via provisions in the Higher Education Opportunity Act. At Grand Rapids Community College (Mich.), our bookstore operator partner, Follett Higher Education Group, approached us about their Rent-A-Text program.

Back in 2003, University Business ran a cover story that asked, "Is the Tablet PC the Future of Higher Education?"

It was an exciting time, when computers were faster and more powerful than ever, and everyone was still just scratching the surface of how to interact with the internet.

On college and university campuses across the country, people were talking tablets, and students, professors, technologists, and administrators alike thought we might be witnessing the next generation of computers.

Hot button issues facing colleges and universities at times seem endless: recruitment, student retention, and shrinking budgets, to name just a few. In contrast, identity management is an often overlooked and under appreciated business process among senior leadership in the higher education field. Yet with the increase of online courses; rising popularity of distance learning; and the challenge of protecting student, faculty and organizational data, identity management is fast becoming a top concern among university professionals.

There was a time, not terribly long ago, when the telecommunications industry spoke of "convergence." Voice and data would soon be one and the complexity that goes with building and maintaining separate systems would evaporate. That time is upon us, and actually, it has been for years. Why, then, is building the corporate information technology infrastructure still so complicated?

Very few--if any--components of campus life are as important to the institution as emergency planning. A college's reputation and, more importantly, the public safety and security of its campus community are at stake.

Several years ago The College of St. Scholastica, a Catholic Benedictine school in Duluth, Minn., purchased a business intelligence (BI) system to improve its ability to make data-driven decisions. Along the way, we learned some important lessons that have strengthened us, and that may be of use to other institutions.

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