• IoT
  • Smart Home Technology
  • Intelligent Building Technologies

Student Housing Is a Nascent Market for Smart Home IoT Technology

Sasha Wedekind
May 22, 2019

Smart Home

Recently, smart apartment technology company IOTAS, Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, and Purdue University established a partnership to outfit a new Aspire residence community with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. This partnership may be a bellwether of an emerging vertical for residential IoT—student housing.

Smart home IoT technologies carry many potential benefits for higher education, which include energy savings, security improvement in resident halls, and talking points for enrollment marketing. However, the smart student housing market is nascent, and growth is likely to be slow and limited to a few early adopters for the foreseeable future. 

Limited Budgets Are the Main Market Barrier

Most colleges are currently unlikely to make large-scale investments in non-essential technology. The sector is experiencing significant financial strain due to decreasing state funding, falling enrollments and tuition earnings, and lagging fundraising revenue that is not catching up to close the gaps. CAPEX projects are often the first thing to be put on hold in this environment.

The Pioneers and What They Have in Common

Aspire is a striking example of a full IoT solution in student housing. The buildings are expected to be outfitted with IOTAS technology, helping students manage apartment access, lighting, and temperature through a smartphone app.

Other universities have implemented smart technology in dorms, but on a smaller scale. Saint Louis University and Arizona State University installed Amazon Echo Dot devices in dorms to help students get information on campus activities. Schools including the University of Chicago, New York University, and University of California, Davis are working with Telkonet to help students manage their thermostats through a mobile app.

A common feature among early adopters is their status on the higher education totem pole. These are prestigious universities that face fewer struggles with enrollment or tuition shortfalls, and are supported by robust fundraising operations that enable investment in cutting edge technology. Additionally, investments in IoT align with their missions. 

Institutional Identity and the Future of IoT Adoption

Institutional identity is key in higher ed for many reasons, including enrollment marketing and alumni loyalty, and tends to drive many strategic decisions. Universities that live and breathe sustainability, student experience, and innovation goals are much more likely to be early adopters of IoT student housing. 

While widespread adoption of IoT is unlikely among higher ed, potential early adopters that fit the profile described above should be on the radar of IoT smart home technology firms. Growth in this market requires educating key stakeholders in capital planning, facilities, and business offices, as well as demonstrating clear ROI and aligning proposed residential IoT projects with institutional mission and goals.