Smart campus communication, Internet of Things, and data governance: Understanding student tensions and imaginaries

Pauline Hope Cheong, Pratik Nyaupane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In recent years, universities have been urged to restructure and re-evaluate their ability to trace and monitor their students as the “smart campus” is being built upon datafication, while networked apps and sensors serve as the means through which its constituents are connected and governed. This paper advances a dialectical and communication-centered approach to the Internet of Things campus ecosystem and provides an empirical investigation into (a) the tensions experienced by students and (b) the ways that these students envision alternative practices that support their digital engagement. Drawing upon student focus group interviews in a large American research and innovation intensive university, dialectical tensions identified include convenience–annoyance, integration–independence, and safety–insecurity, brought upon by students’ ongoing and prospective negotiations with Internet of Things. Furthermore, in a bid to understand students’ alternative data imaginaries, this project examined students’ preferred Internet of Things-related communication practices with campus digital application platforms, analog and older forms of digital media, as well as in-person interactions with traditional authorities within classroom and group settings. Finally, this contribution presents a discussion of the findings for theory and praxis, particularly for smart campus innovation and social data governance, in terms of potential growing challenges involving complexifying student privacy concerns, data normalization and coercion, and tertiary digital divides and inequalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBig Data and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Smart campus
  • data governance
  • datafication
  • digital divide
  • human communication
  • internet of things

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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