1 Jul 2018

Chaos on campus? Not with Joan, says University of Melbourne

Anyone who has ever stepped foot on a university campus knows what a confusing maze it can be. The University of Melbourne is no exception. This Uni has decided to tackle its organizational chaos by welcoming a new member to its ranks – Joan.

The University of Melbourne campuses are home to 48,000 students from 130 countries and 8,000 employees. Staff and students alike can find it equally challenging to reserve rooms, check for vacancies or simply find the right place to be at the right time.

We asked Tommy Carron, the Technical Lead within the University’s Technology Management team of Infrastructure Services, about the main reason for investing in the meeting room management system.

He gave a very clear-cut answer:

“From frustration. One of the main drives was to know what’s going on in a room, so that people wouldn’t have to ask if it’s empty. More efficiency in using our meeting spaces, really.”


“It’s information at that point where it’s needed.”

The University of Melbourne already has 92 Joan Executives strategically placed around its premises and four Joan Classrooms displayed at the Melbourne School of Design. A unique, easy-to-use, e-paper screen that functions as a multi-purpose, interactive sign at the door, it shows ongoing meetings as well as timetables of future ones.

“It also addresses clashes,” points out Tommy. “If you have people squatting in a room, you can use that screen, it’s the authority: ‘Hey, I booked this room, can you please vacate it, we need it.’ It brought a sense of harmony to meeting rooms. And reduced the chaos.”

Employing state-of-the-art technology is one thing, the practicality of its implementation is another. Or is it?

Joan’s installation was “Very, very easy,” says Tommy.

He also told us that the device’s cable-free property enabled them to place it wherever they wanted. From a logistics standpoint, it is a win-win situation, as it does not require teams of people, additional budget resources nor time.

“We had it up and running in about a fortnight,” he says.

The green campus

Besides its spectacular size and impressive academic reputation, the University of Melbourne prides itself on being an eco-friendly institution committed to sustainability and innovation. A recycling program, a farmers market on its campus lawn, solar panels on rooftops, and… Joan, with its battery life of up to 12 months on a single charge. How green is that!

And its sustainability both in the meeting room and lecture hall: another representative of the Joan family currently employed at the university is Joan Classroom.

This academic’s little helper displays the daily schedule of each classroom, with real-time updates and alerts, making it the smartest and most efficient way to manage campus resources. For streamlined campus communication, managed in real-time—in less time than it takes to fire up your printer!

Yes, the words by British educationalist Sir Michael Barber “Universities must be places of intellectual discomfort” surely ring true; however, their level of organizational discomfort should indeed be kept to a bare minimum.

And now, with Joan holding permanent tenure in that department, this is more than feasible.