Creating an advanced network platform and positioning industry at the core
Focusing on career readiness, practical learning, inclusion, opportunity, and excellence has earned VU its ranking in the top three percent of universities worldwide.
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Size: 3135 employees
Victoria University deployed a Software-Defined Access network at its new vertical campus and trialed a range of digital services that will improve health and safety, create intuitive navigation services, and help optimize use of its physical spaces.
VU has an expanding presence and a bold vision to bring the future of learning to students. VU turned to Cisco Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) to help its network environment meet its demands in the state-of-the-art vertical campus building in Melbourne's central business district (CBD).
VU's City Campus embodies the university campus of the future. It houses the state-of-the-art, 26-level VU City Tower in the heart of Melbourne's central business district and legal precinct. In order to realize the university's vision of bringing the future of learning to students, the campus needed to be designed with a digital-first approach from the outset.
This meant supporting a growing number of applications, users, and devices that would place unprecedented demands on the network. It also meant having an IT environment that could evolve to match new immersive digital technologies—all while promoting a consistent and secure user experience for staff and students, and ease of deployment for IT.
Cisco deployed SD-Access—a solution within Cisco DNA architecture, which is built on intent-based networking principles.
With Cisco SD-Access, an intelligent network fabric was implemented, underpinned by Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switches, Cisco Catalyst Center, and Cisco Identity Services Engine (Cisco ISE). This solution provided visibility-based, automated end-to-end segmentation to separate user, device, and application traffic—in addition to the flexibility and agility possible only with a network controller-based fabric.
By facilitating policy-based automation from the edge to the cloud, SD-Access gave VU next-generation capabilities to manage its network environment. VU has been able to simplify network management, tighten security, tackle ever-increasing workloads, and embrace new digital technologies. For example, visualization of network traffic and bandwidth control is now more precise and flexible.
Instead of simply provisioning and managing devices, IT is now able to unlock the network's full potential. The network has become critical infrastructure that can accommodate future changes, such as an increase in the number of devices or adoption of new digital services and work styles—all while promoting rigorous levels of security for VU, staff, and students.
“Our partnership with Cisco enables us to do things that we could otherwise nowhere near touch. They're an integral relational partner, including research and impact in society. We're on this journey with a company that knows what that means and can do it together with us. That's unique.”Professor Adam Shoemaker, Vice-Chancellor and President
VU ran a series of proof of concepts using Cisco technology to trial and better understand how technology could deliver a COVID-safe return to campus, create intuitive navigation services, and help VU optimize the use of its physical spaces.
Cisco, Cisco Meraki and MazeMap
The impact of COVID-19 on university campuses has been long-lasting. The acceleration of remote working—alongside blended learning—has led to more staff and students working and learning at home. This has drastically reduced demand for traditional spaces such as lecture theatres and has created pressure on universities to differentiate the campus experience.
VU wanted to understand how spaces—one of universities' largest fixed costs—were currently being used and what opportunities existed to improve utilization through digital services supporting campus activation. This included services supporting a safe return to campus (social distancing, hygiene requirements, and other COVID-safe restrictions), intuitive navigation around the campus, and immersive working and learning.
As campuses are reimagined for the future, VU also wants to understand how the data it gathers across its network of campuses can be used to monitor environmental conditions and create an automated platform for reducing the university's environmental footprint.
To capture data on space utilization, VU installed Cisco Meraki smart cameras, which provided secure insights into people activity in and out of the demo space. This was amplified through deployment of Webex by Cisco devices in meeting rooms, providing an intelligent meetings solution, deep analytics on room utilization, and environmental monitoring, all in one.
Data from Cisco Meraki smart cameras and Webex devices was then integrated with Cisco Wi-Fi 6 access points and Cisco Spaces (formerly Cisco DNA Spaces) to provide a unified telemetry platform with rich insights into the use of spaces and environmental conditions.
The analytics generated through this solution were used to deploy a suite of digital services enabling a safe return to campus. This included integration of Cisco Spaces with MazeMap, delivering a rich and engaging presentation of occupancy and environmental data to students and staff, and activation of active feedback features on Webex devices to inform users if room occupancy exceeded recommended levels.
By taking advantage of the deployed technologies' sensing capabilities, VU discovered new insights into asset performance, environmental conditions, and customer behavior that would assist with future campus design and deployment of new location-based services across the campus network. As part of the proof of concepts, VU could facilitate capabilities including:
Early trials of analytics services deployed across the campus demonstrated significant potential. VU was able to capture data that will be critical to facilitating a richer and more collaborative on-campus experience for staff, educators, and students. The data is easily accessible (including via online portal for Cisco Spaces data) and can be integrated with other systems such as MazeMap to ensure that the campus is comfortable, easy to navigate, safe, and efficient to operate.
VU's proof of concepts demonstrate the feasibility of using Wi-Fi data to generate insights into space utilization and drive the design of digital services that activate the campus. While initially developed at VU's Footscray Park campus, the solution—as well as the digital services built on top of it—has the potential to play a major role at VU's City Campus. The deployment of SD-Access at VU's City Campus provides the underlying technology infrastructure to run the solution and associated services at scale.