A Student's Perspective: The Case for Smart Home Tech in Student Housing

By: Patrick Lewis

College students are searching for smart home technology in their next home.College students are searching for smart home technology in their next home.College students are searching for smart home technology in their next home.College students are searching for smart home technology in their next home.

As a student actively attending college, I have recently observed both the highs and lows of the modern student housing sector. While dormitories have come a long way in recent years, many schools have struggled to update their campuses and, on some university grounds, students are living in dormitories constructed in the early 18th century.

From the university’s perspective, a significant reason for this is the upfront costs of demolishing a building, coupled with the ensuing bill for building a new one. Pair this with the fact that these buildings typically hold a remarkable amount of history for the school and surrounding area, and it’s easy to see why approving new construction is a difficult choice to make. Complicating matters even further is the fact that this generation of undergraduates have strong preferences and expectations when it comes to their living quarters – expectations that are difficult to meet in less-than-modern buildings.

In the coming years we will see the latter half of Gen Z flood universities around the world. To attract students, universities must modernize their on and off-campus living quarters, as 62% of Gen Z renters consider smart home technology very important. Unfortunately, building new, smart facilities may not be a financially feasible option. This is where property technology, or proptech, comes in.

Proptech allows universities to modernize the residential halls they already have. This effectively brings older buildings up to pace with newer ones in regard to their technological functionality and usability. Proptech implementation provides countless benefits to both students and school administrators.

Let’s dive into frequent issues plaguing colleges in regards to student housing, and how smart home solutions can help.

Trade in Clunky Key Options for Smart Access Control

Eliminating keys/FOBs makes students’ lives easier. No physical keys means less things they need to carry around campus, and to get into their living quarters they will simply need their smartphone (an accessory 98% of Gen Z has). Contactless access also saves schools the cost of having to replace keys lost by students.

The modern key fob system presents some concerning issues when it comes to access control in residential halls or other campus buildings. Both metal keys and FOBs can be easily duplicated, at little cost. This can present a serious concern for universities, as student residents and authorized school officials should be the only people with access to these facilities.

Proptech provides a simple and effective way to manage this concern. Access control technologies effectively eliminate the possibility of key/FOB duplication. Instead of requiring a physical key to enter a housing space, SmartRent’s solution requires only an individual’s smartphone. Using the phone, the student resident can unlock their door with the SmartRent app or a personalized code.

Plus, the SmartRent solution gives colleges records of who accessed which buildings and at what time. This includes records of maintenance workers, residential life employees, and of course, students. This can provide peace of mind to students and parents alike, as they may access data to see who has been in and out of their place of residence.

Control the Temps with Smart Thermostats

Believe it or not, thermostats present a lot of issues at universities. I’ve seen firsthand the disputes between students and schools over the temperature their rooms are kept at. Thermostats have been tampered with or even severely damaged by students in attempts to alter temperatures in their room, leading to frequent replacements by the maintenance team.

Smart thermostats allow for monitoring by the university while also giving students a more modern system they will prefer. For instance, if a student is coming back to their dorm after a night out, they can lower the temperature in their room before they return, so it is the perfect setting when they walk through the door.

SmartRent-equipped smart thermostats give students tons of flexibility, while also appealing to colleges with tools that set limits for the temperature range students can change their thermostats to. This saves schools money on energy and device replacements. If more control is needed, proptech-enabled thermostats give operators the ability to fully control the thermostats to limit potential issues before they start.

Another advantage proptech provides when it comes to temperatures is mold prevention. This is an issue impacting many schools across the country, but particularly for those in the south, where extreme humidity is the norm. Smart thermostats can alert school officials to rising humidity levels before adjusting the temperature or automatically creating a work order for maintenance.

Prevent Disastrous Damage by Detecting Leaks Early

Being occupied almost entirely by students, college facilities face a lot of damage on a sometimes weekly basis. Whether it’s due to reckless behavior or normal wear and tear, leaks can cause devastating damage if left unattended.

Student rooms also face a lot of time being unoccupied, particularly over school breaks. While students may be gone, typically, there are still a lot of possessions left behind when they depart campus. This can make potential leaks even more disastrous.

Further worsening a potential leak situation is the high chance students will not report leaks even if they see them. In my experience, there is not as much regard for school property as university officials may hope. If a building springs a leak and no one reports it for months, it’s easy to imagine how out of hand the situation can become.

Leak detection eliminates these scenarios from ever becoming an issue. Should a leak occur, leak sensors detect it and automatically alert maintenance teams and the student(s) affected by the leak. By addressing the leak quickly and effectively, SmartRent helps schools avoid extensive damage and expensive repairs.

Ease the Burden of Move-In/Move-Out Days

Perhaps two of the worst days each year for universities are move-in and move-out days. Quite frankly, they are a logistical nightmare for the students, and even worse for school officials. Proptech offers a unique opportunity to ease some of the burdens that so often accompany these processes.

Let’s take the distribution and recollection of room keys, for example. Long lines are often coupled with the frequent misplacement of keys by students and families as they begin their move-in process. By modernizing the move-in and move-out process with a keyless solution, all students will need to gain access to their dorm on move-in day is their phone. When they vacate their room for move-out, their access to the building is turned off at the appropriate time.

Campuses also tend to be heavily overpopulated these days, as parents and families often like to tag along with their children to assist them. This creates extensive issues in regards to parking on campus, particularly at smaller universities. Smart parking gives college officials the opportunity to automate parking on campus, allowing them to manage and monitor vehicles around the college grounds.

Take It from Me: Smart Home Tech is the Wave of the Future

Proptech can provide many benefits to college campuses. Gen Z clearly has strong preferences when it comes to their living quarters, so the modernization of the campus they pay to attend may soon be a basic expectation.

SmartRent provides universities with a smart home automation platform that saves money and energy, boosts efficiency, and appeals to my generation of college students. Modernized residential halls are the future of on-campus student housing and will serve as an excellent way to attract new students.

Best of all, there are cost-effective ways to implement smart solutions on your campus. If you’re interested in learning how SmartRent can help you, request a complimentary demo now.