2.5 min read
It’s that time of year where post secondary schools and higher learning institutions are busy getting ready for the fall semester. Of course, this year (for so, so many reasons) is not like any other year. Schools, including universities, colleges, polytechnics, and vocationals across North America are doing their best to make decisions that are right for their states, provinces and territories, as well as their students and their staff. Like many things COVID-19 related, there’s no real consensus on how it should be.
Uncertainty seems to be the only certainty.
Schools across Canada are all responding differently and there is certainly reason to worry. The one thing we can all agree on is that we want to avoid the nightmare of issues that are plaguing the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where a major COVID outbreak has already happened.
One major aspect of post secondary life for students on campus is the shared use facilities and high traffic areas, all of which are being managed (or not) differently. Think of the administrative service areas like the registrar’s office, student union, and various intake offices. Then there are the shared facilities areas such as, pools, gyms, cafeterias, libraries, plus the campus bars and restaurants, and bookstores. All requiring their own regulations and processes. Just like in the outside world, there are many different solutions available, ranging from the lowest of the low-fi (hello, green masking tape, my old friend) to higher fidelity solutions (like those multiple texts you get when you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant, except they’re just letting you know you’ve signed up and that you’re on the list).
What’s the right solution for post secondary decision makers?
Of course it depends on the unique circumstances surrounding the decision. One thing we know is that institutions take the health and safety of their students and staff seriously, but it’s a difficult balance when simply being open creates myriad social distancing issues in a pandemic. It’s about safety, but it’s also about what’s practical and reasonable, while delivering the best possible experience for students and staff.
For many, digital solutions can play a key role. Why line-up where space is limited, when you can have appointment setting for, say, the pool and the gym? And where line-ups are perhaps unavoidable, technology can be used to create more efficiency and transparency for students at places like the bookstore and library. It’s easier to stand in line if you know how long it will be and you know that the people inside are moving through their experience as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
Another consideration for schools is enforcing the occupancy limits to ensure social distancing in the many buildings across the campus. Again, there’s low-fidelity solutions (hello, security guard, my old friend) and higher tech solutions, and though there’s no one size fits all answer, we can say that low-fidelity solutions can be resource heavy, expensive, and often don’t scale as well for the multiple buildings a post secondary institution has to deal with.
Digital solutions such as Wavetec (an Aequilibrium partner) manage customer flow through innovative technological solutions, and have been around for more than 20 years, serving world class clients, including post secondary institutions around the world.
In fact, they recently deployed their technology at the University of Central Florida to help manage this issue of occupancy limits on campus. Beyond that they offer digital appointment setting and virtual queues, that integrate with the institution’s systems, and can provide alerts and notifications via WhatsApp and SMS. They are one of the few companies that provide the data and analytics behind it all to help institutions find efficiencies and continually improve both the student experience and the staff experience.
And this is where the future gets really interesting. With innovations and solutions driven by this unique and terrible problem of the pandemic, perhaps we can actually create better service for students and better working conditions for staff even beyond the pandemic and when 2020 is finally, and firmly, behind us.
This is why we’ve partnered with Wavetec. Because we believe this technology is not only important to help our communities overcome COVID-19 by making it easier to adhere to restrictions, but also because there is incredible potential and opportunity to go further and deliver remarkable experiences for people. And, given all that’s happened, wouldn’t that be remarkable in itself?