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Live Density Program FAQ

When did UC San Diego start using live density data?

In 2018, UC San Diego began pilot testing live density sensors in high-traffic locations such as Geisel Library, RIMAC, dining areas, etc. As part of the program, students and community members could use the UC San Diego mobile app to assess wait times as they plan their visits to libraries, dining halls and gyms, providing a better experience for our faculty, students and staff.

Press

San Diego start-up helps college students avoid crowds on campus amid pandemicThe San Diego Union-Tribune, September 24, 2020 This story also ran in La Jolla Light.

Currently, the university is studying how the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in work culture, with many departments embracing more flexible work arrangements. The university is using the live density data to understand how space is currently being used and to make informed decisions on responsible and best use going forward.

The Live Density Program is a component of the overall space management framework. UC San Diego leadership uses multiple qualitative and quantitative analyses to make informed decisions about space allocations. For example, UC San Diego uses several methods that are common in a university setting to gather data, including badge swipes, visual observations, Wi-Fi and network analysis, threshold sensors and sensors in the parking structures.

How is the data used?

As part of UC San Diego’s space management and planning efforts, the Live Density Program aims to use campus space more effectively and improve emergency response.

The university uses this technology to manage space efficiently, and will not use the data for any purposes other than space management and planning. Furthermore, the data will not be used to infer individuals' identities or to track attendance. UC San Diego will not provide the data to third parties (unless required by law or university policy).

What information does the live density sensor collect?

The Live Density Program collects occupancy information for the floor of a building, not for individual offices or cubicles. Sensors are placed approximately 3,000 square feet apart. The collected data is aggregated at the floor level to calculate density relative to available seats over time.

The sensors analyze the area's total Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled device signals to estimate occupancy. For example, the sensors may read a device's Media Access Control (MAC) address, date and time stamps and signal strength indicator. Because a MAC address uniquely identifies a device and could identify a person, it is immediately replaced by a random number, the hash value. Only that anonymized number is stored temporarily on the sensor.

Live density sensors use the campus wireless device network with a dedicated virtual local area network (VLAN). This network is isolated from other wireless networks to protect users' real and hashed MAC addresses. As always, data security is of the utmost concern and all standard university policies and procedures are adhered to.

Learn more about Occuspace’s privacy and security information.

Does the technology provide accurate results?

Although the sensors would not show who is in a building, they are able to provide high confidence in the number of people—it can estimate the number of people with over 90% accuracy.

Who has access to the information?

The occupancy information is available to space administrators and campus leaders involved in space management.

The live occupancy information related to public realm spaces is published—students and community members can use the UC San Diego mobile app to assess wait times as they plan their visits to libraries, dining halls and gyms, providing a better experience for our faculty, students and staff.

If I have multiple devices, will the program count me as various people?

No. The Occuspace algorithms account for multiple devices per person by examining more than 20 different variables, including how close together anonymous devices are to each other and if those devices are moving together or independently.

Was there a competitive bidding process?

In 2018, the project team conducted a Request for Information (RFI) and compared different live-density solutions. The team evaluated the value and cost of several platforms and selected Occuspace for a pilot program at the campus libraries.

Is this technology used at University of California or other universities?

University of California campuses and similar-sized higher-education institutions use this technology to manage space efficiently.

Does this impact the networks in the buildings?

No. The sensors send around a kilobyte of data at any one time, which has no measurable impact on network bandwidth.

Can I opt out of the program by turning off my Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections?

Anyone can opt out of this or other Wi-Fi-enabled programs by turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to their devices. However, if you turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, you may have limited access to some university resources.

What happens if an area is not being used?

A key goal of the Live Density Program and other campus space management and planning efforts is to improve understanding in order to ensure responsible and best use of campus spaces going forward. Future plans would be be discussed within each Vice Chancellor area.

Which buildings have live density sensors and which buildings are being considered for expansion?

What are the channels to provide input?

The Q&A on this page was informed by questions received during presentations in meetings held across the campus. A series of meetings will be scheduled before the Fall Quarter to share information and gather feedback.

Questions?

If you have questions or concerns, contact omcp@ucsd.edu.