Al-Jamiah Al Mubarakah (Smart University) Blueprint: Navigating a New Normal

09/06/2021 08:54 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Ts Dr Madihah Mohd Saudi

It has been more than 365 days since the first case of COVID-19, and much has changed worldwide. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) has launched our first strategic Smart Universities Blueprint entitled Al-Jamiah Al Mubarakah (Smart University) to navigate the ‘new normal’ until 2025. Adapting to a new world, we have learned a great deal about the spread of COVID-19, are aware of the implications and have introduced mitigation solutions within societies and with regard to our economies. Yet worldwide, we are still learning.

The new normal is not only about introducing physical distancing practices or practising good respiratory etiquette; it is all about our ethical manners in terms of supporting government initiatives and strategies when it comes to combating COVID-19. With the launch of this blueprint, we demonstrate that we are increasingly tech-driven, and ready to adapt to the new normal.

The Al-Jamiah Al Mubarakah blueprint introduces five clusters and 13 initiatives for digital transformation in order to support business operations at the university. Furthermore, this blueprint is based on seven principles taken from our ICT Strategic Plan (ISP) 2021-2025 which emphasise and are based on Maqasid Syariah, the Industrial Revolution, student-centric, data-driven, open source, agile and mobility and prosumerism. Besides, there are five clusters in the form of smart INAQ (smart lifestyle), smart governance, smart infrastructure, smart learning and smart services.

The smart INAQ is based on a student-centric and data-driven approach, in order to create and collect data, derive insights from that data, and utilize these insights for visual analytics and knowledge sharing. It fosters a digital and mobile culture in terms of mosque management, health, transportation, donations (waqf and infaq), knowledge, personal data, academic achievement and lifestyle. This includes smart attendance, e-wallets (cashless campus), smart transport, ebooks, open access, smart health, and a masjid portal which can be accessed through mobile applications.

Digital leadership

To drive the digital transformation at USIM, it is necessary to empower the ICT governance via Smart Governance. The digital transformation is supported in terms of inspiration, the empowerment of ICT governance and ICT policies, molding digital leaders, the execution of Enterprise Architecture, and compliance with the Information Security Management System (ISO 270001).

As a result of the synergistic cooperation between the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Unit and the System Development and Engineering Centre (SDEC), a series of Tech Talks, industry collaboration, certified and certification of professional bodies, prosumerism enculturation, and tech-driven awareness, will be executed in the immediate future and until 2025.

According to Shah (2020) and, Eberl and Drews (2021), digital leadership is a combination of the leadership style of transformation leadership and the uses of digital technology, which have a direct impact on business model innovation and co-creation strategy. Many scholars suggested that the role of the leader is central in driving a fast decision-making process, and propelling the change.

Teaching and learning

USIM looks forward to bringing Al-Jamiah Al Mubarakah to life and moving forward in terms of the teaching and learning (T&L) and research and administration aspects via a stable, secure and efficient smart infrastructure. Hence, the introduction of such a sustainable smart infrastructure is significant in ensuring that staff, lecturers and students operate in a conducive environment. Physical and security systems are generally intended to protect people, data, equipment, systems, facilities and organisations from intruders.

The physical and security systems are the most visible components of an organisation. Consequently, the Al-Jamiah Al Mubarakah is adopting automated technologies and emerging technologies such as facial recognition, visual analytics, virtual reality, gamification, secure computer labs, smart barriers and identity access management (Rashma, Macherla, Jaiswal, Poornima, 2021).

The inclusion of these technologies makes sense given the ever-growing role they play in the overall security picture, in that they mitigate risks, and will reduce operational costs by a minimum of five per cent within the next five years. Technology offers the potential to provide Generation Z and Generation Alpha students with new ways of learning, given that the Internet’s countless resources are essential to 21st Century T&L (Chen, Zou, Xie and, Wang, 2021).

The Wifi on Wheels and the learning space initiatives will focus on helping students with connectivity issues, increasing the availability of technology, and increasing access to WiFi when students are engaging with their T&L. These initiatives will also support smart learning. Smart learning leverages flexible education involving new interactive models by having blended learning, massive open online courses (MOOC) and micro-credentials.

Smart services leverage technologies and innovations in creating and maintaining the next-generation university – one that modernizes iteratively over time. It provides the university with information that allows it to foster positive interactions and make decisions in conjunction with students, staff, lecturers, visitors, ecosystem partners and the community. This consists of an Academic Information System (AIS), E-services, dashboard, a virtual museum, interactive websites, e-Perolehan, a Document Management System and MyARIFS v2.0.

With prosumerism at the centre of our way of thinking, we are ready for ‘expect the unexpected situations’ to ensure our business operations run smoothly. We are all in this together, and will only succeed together. There is no time to waste.

#stay safe #kita jaga kita


Ts Dr Madihah Mohd Saudi is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science and Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. She is Deputy Chairperson of Cyber Security Academia Malaysia (CSAM) and an expert in cybersecurity specialisation in malware and mobile security.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)