“Everything is booked, but many rooms and seats are empty”. This problem was the basis of the ‘Smart campus tools’ research and is familiar to both users and campus managers alike. On today’s university campus - with an increasing amount of students, part-time researchers, guest professors and other visitors - many users are looking for a place to study, to work or to have a meeting on a daily basis, but often all the space on campus seems to be in use: education spaces are booked for lectures and desks are claimed by books on the table or a coat on the chair. However, for large parts of the day they are not in active use.
This “reserved but not used” problem resembles a top-10 annoyance on vacation: sunbeds by the poolside at holiday resorts are claimed with towels, without actual people using them. This analogy with the ‘towel problem’ points out two important issues: when space is scarce people start claiming their territory “in advance” and this annoys all other potential users, with a negative effect on satisfaction rates. This leads to a paradox: while the campus community perceives scarcity of space, campus managers know that the available spaces are not used to their full capacity. Smart tools were envisioned as a possible solution for this problem.