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A Strategic Framework for a Smart Campus: American University of Sharjah Case Study

AbuAlnaaj, Karam Hani
A Master of Science thesis in Engineering Systems Management by Karam Hani AbuAlnaaj entitled, “A Strategic Framework for a Smart Campus: American University of Sharjah Case Study”, submitted in November 2019. Thesis advisor is Dr. Vian Ahmed. Soft copy is available (Thesis, Approval Signatures, Completion Certificate, and AUS Archives Consent Form).
As the term smart campus attracts the professionals and academics from multiple disciplines, and the technology keeps intervening in every aspect of life; it becomes inevitable for the smart campus to take place and contribute in the future vision of smart cities. As a first step to achieve this vision, it is very important to develop a clear understanding of what is a smart campus. To date, there is still no clear perception of how would a smart campus look like, or what are the main components that can form a smart campus. In this study, an intensive research is conducted to explore and compile the recent accomplishments in the fields of: smart cities, internet of things and smart campus; to utilize these recent studies into a coherent entity called ‘The Smart Campus’. The objective of this research is to propose a conceptual framework for the Smart Campus that underpins the most important criteria from the campus end users’ perception. The main criteria are defined from literature review, and a case study is conducted on the American University of Sharjah campus end users to assess the designated criteria. This exploratory research relies on both qualitative and quantitative methods to perform the analysis, taking into consideration the perceptions of students, faculties, and IT service providers. The results of the case study shows that 10 smart application scored High Importance level (H) (0.8 ≤ RII ≤ 1) based on the Relative Importance Index, and 15 other application are in the High-Medium importance level (H–M) (0.6 ≤ RI ≤ 0.8) based on the same index. Moreover, the case study shows that students prefer to deploy respectively the application of Smart Cards, Smart Classrooms, Smart Energy Management, and Smart Transportation in their campus life, and 60% of them believe that their university is capable to do the smart transformation. Nevertheless, professors and IT professionals confirmed the proposed smart criteria, and highlighted the main obstacles in: implementation cost, buildings’ reliability, and resistance to change. Finally, having defined and evaluated the criteria that underpins the smart campus framework, a set of recommendations are drawn to guide the utilization of a smart campus within higher education settings. This research opens the doors for future studies to gain a deeper insight into the type of decisions that need to be made in order to transform a traditional campus to a smart campus.
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