Singapore university to tap IoT, 5G in smart campus trial

Last Updated on February 8, 2022 by Admin


The National University of Singapore (NUS) plans to run a two-year trial to tap the use of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, with the aim to better manage its campus. Drones and patrol robots, for instance, may be part of live tests to enhance safety and facilitate quicker response to situations.

Local telco StarHub has been roped in to provide its 5G and IoT service offerings, the partners said in a joint statement. StarHub’s 5G standalone services and fully solar-powered outdoor Wi-Fi system already have been deployed within the NUS campus. 

During the two-year collaboration, they would look to tap the network to improve operational efficiencies in managing outdoor campus facilities management. Both would work to identify gaps and co-develop applications in smart campus facilities management, with live data to be pulled from sensors and consolidated for analysis. 

Potential use cases here could include inspection of building facade, housekeeping and landscape operations, waste management, and security management. Augmented and virtual reality applications also could be used to provide an immersive classroom, tapping the university campus, for sustainability education.

Asked to elaborate on trials that had been planned, a spokesperson told ZDNet initial efforts would focus on the use of IoT sensors to more effectively maintain facilities in a large campus environment. Housekeeping, for instance, was labour-intensive and could prove a challenge where resources are limited. 

To address such challenges, smart sanitary sensors have been installed at NUS U-Town, which will alert facility managers when taps or flushing systems are faulty. This not only reduces the need for regular maintenance and cuts wastage, but also speeds up response and rectification. 

Ammonia and occupancy sensors also have been deployed to track usage and provide notification when toilets require cleaning.

StarHub’s integrated 5G IoT network enables the university’s facility managers to access the data via a user-friendly dashboard, in real-time, so action can be taken in a timely manner, according to the spokesperson. 

He noted that some trials already were underway and further use cases to be developed. These included predictive maintenance, cleaning, and security management.

Drones and patrol robots, for example, could be tapped to facilitate a safer campus environment with better situational awareness and quicker response time, he said. 

“Enabled by 5G, mobile cameras installed in these drones and patrol robots could transmit live feed seamlessly to the security command centre, to quickly detect any suspicious objects and activities on campus,” he noted. 

Through the two-year pilot, NUS hoped to testbed use cases to demonstrate the various benefits as well as feasibility of a wider deployment across its campus. 

The spokesperson noted that research suggested the time needed to inspect building facade could be slashed by 70% with the use of drone technology, powered by artificial intelligence.

NUS’ vice president of campus infrastructure Koh Yan Leng said: “The high-speed connectivity and real-time communications that 5G provides will allow us to redesign our facilities management workflow, enhancing productivity, efficiency and safety, as well as provide targeted responses tailored to different situations.”

NUS’ chief IT officer Tan Shui-Min added that NUS aimed to be “a borderless university, where learning and working can take place anywhere, anytime, and through any device”.

StarHub’s chief of enterprise business group Charlie Chan said: “Partnering NUS, we are capitalising on 5G to build a smart sensor network and generate new insights, for more agile decision-making and greater workforce productivity.”



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