Edinburgh Uni reveals new library space monitoring technology

Apparently there are sensors in the desks

In an article published on April 20th, Edinburgh University announced the use of new ‘OccupEye technology’ to monitor usage of spaces in the Main Library.

The news comes alongside reports of staff patrolling the aisles and handing out warning notes to those suspected of having tried to unfairly reserve seats during the overcrowded exam season, as the University finally takes long-awaited action on the problem of under-provision of library spaces.

The uni’s new passive-aggressive leaflet addressed to desk-hoggers

The technology has so far only been installed on the Lower Ground Floor and Group Study Room LG.03, and involves special sensors attached to entry doors as well as each desk, which pick up temperature and movement.

The data is then sent for analysis – and apparently, the University aims to soon be able to display it in real time, letting students know about any free study spaces.

This picture from the OccupEye website demonstrates how the sensors work

However, this kind of sensor technology isn’t without its controversy – The Daily Telegraph withdrew the use of the OccupEye sensors last year after criticism of how they were being used to track how much time staff spent at their desks.

The fact that the presence of these sensors has not been explicitly disclosed to students is perhaps worrying, though the article reassures us that no personal data is being collected and that the technology is ‘widely used in the commercial sector and is in use in a small number of other University libraries, such as Birkbeck College’.