Stacked books with bookshelves in background

Swinburne University makes students’ lives easier by counting them.

Organization: Swinburne University of Technology
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Customer need: Occupancy, Operational efficiency
Melbourne, Australia, 

People counting solution from Axis helps top university deliver transparency as a service so students can be more productive.

Saving valuable time for students

Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne is amongst the world’s top 400 universities. Established in 1908, it achieved university status in 1992 and offers 236 undergraduate, 173 postgraduate and 125 TAFE programs. Throughout its more than 100-year history, the university has pioneered innovation and made practical use of the latest technology developments.

With this well-respected status comes a large number of students. Today, Swinburne University of Technology has over 30,000 enrolled students, including Higher Education and TAFE, and has international students from more than 100 countries.

Swinburne University has three campuses in Melbourne; Hawthorn, Croydon and Wantirna. Due to the consolidation of Higher Education students to Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus and the construction of new buildings at the campus, it made it challenging for students to find the location of study spaces and even more challenging to find a free study space.

In response to this, Derek Whitehead, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Swinburne University, wanted to increase ‘transparency as a service’, to guide students towards free study areas, which would save time and increase their productivity.

“The vision for ‘transparency as a service’ was sparked by a visit to a shopping centre where I noticed how cars were counted in the parking lot, resulting in visitors immediately being directed to the available parking spaces. Seeing this, I thought that perhaps the same paradigm could be applied to counting students entering and exiting the campus’ study spaces. Knowing immediately where to go and where there are places available would save time and increase their productivity.”

An innovative approach to student wellbeing

The university tested different people counting solutions to reach the desired goal. However, many of the systems they tested were flawed in various ways, including a lack of bidirectional counting, high costs and accuracy issues.

With an established network of surveillance cameras, Swinburne University started exploring the possibility of using them for counting, which eventually led to installing cameras embedded with AXIS People Counter.

AXIS People Counter offered Swinburne University a cost-effective and reliable way to count people and understand foot traffic in different areas within its campus. With reliable counting of people in both directions simultaneously, Swinburne University now has direct access to real-time counting data, which can be used to provide students with real-time information about available spaces.

“The fact that we are able to access the counting data in real-time gives us a much better chance of predicting the occupancy level at a certain study area. Alongside this real-time data, we developed an HTML5 mobile web app. By pairing the data with our mobile app, students can now easily find free study space on campus using the app,” says Chris Goetze, IT Security Officer responsible for developing the surveillance ecosystem.

Although it has not been that long since the service was launched, we have already received great feedback and appreciation from the students at our Hawthorne campus. With Axis People Counter, we’ve transformed the student experience, giving back valuable time to our students.
Chris Goetze
IT Security Officer, Swinburne University of Technology.

Easy installation for people counting

AXIS People Counter runs embedded in compatible ceiling-mounted Axis cameras, where it automatically counts people passing by, turning an indoor Axis camera into a highly advanced sensor.

This scalable application doesn’t require central-based servers. For wide entrance coverage, two cameras can be simply connected running AXIS People Counter and lets the user define the counting area to suit the specific entrance. Furthermore, the application can be remotely configured, managed, and monitored, giving users instant access to statistics from all cameras. This means users can review and compare multiple sites at once—all from one central location.

Based on open APIs, the data captured by AXIS People Counter can be easily integrated into third-party applications, such as the mobile web app the university developed. In addition to the system's ease of integration into existing camera infrastructure meant Swinburne University could easily install the new system, significantly reducing costs.

“The fact that we are able to use our existing camera infrastructure and access the counting data in real time, gives us a much better chance of predicting the occupancy level at a certain study area, while reducing the overall cost,” says Goetze.

For this rollout, the IT department at Swinburne University has been working in close cooperation with the library at the campus throughout the roll out phase. Through the cooperation, the technology is already being set up in 8 campus study spaces.

“Using available technology in an innovative way is a win for the students.” As the new system is rolled out, more locations will be added which will ultimately provide a better service for the students at the university,” says Kim Tairi, Associate Director of Information Management.

About Swinburne University of Technology

Swinburne University was established in 1908, achieved university status in 1992 and offers 236 undergraduate, 173 postgraduate and 125 TAFE programs. It has three campuses in Melbourne; Hawthorn, Croydon and Wantirna as well as one in Sarawak, East Malaysia. The number of student enrollments in 2012 was 18,805 in Higher Education, 13,750 TAFE, the Equivalent Full Time Student Load, including 7,500 international students from more than 100 countries. The university employs more than 2,800 staff (including seasonals) and boasts a worldwide alumni network of over 90,000 people.

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