IT Update for April 2016

April 2016
A monthly report to UAB leadership and the IT community about technology projects
designed to enhance the work and lives of UAB staff, faculty and students.

Empowering UAB

Eight committees, 14 town halls: Opportunity to co-author IT plan

Faculty, staff and students are invited to join UAB IT on a journey to build an IT strategic plan for campus. Opportunities for involvement will include interactive town halls, a SPARK campaign and review poster sessions.
Learn more about the strategic plan process.

Oracle security challenge adds new layer of safety for users
On April 9, Oracle users will have the opportunity to add a new layer of security to the system that houses employees’ financial and personal information at UAB. UAB will deploy a security challenge, a series of questions for which Oracle users will provide unique answers. Learn more about the new security feature.

Sign up for automated BlazerID password reset
Forgotten your BlazerID password and need to reset it? The easiest way is to have already signed up for automated password reset through BlazerID Central. Those who are signed up will get a code via text message to reset their BlazerID password, bypassing the need to talk to AskIT. If you are not already signed up for the automated reset, go to BlazerID Central and click on e-Notify on the left to enroll. For those not enrolled during the next time you reset your password, you will be prompted to enroll during that reset process. 
WiFi, digital signage coming to UAB's Blazer Express buses
Need to log on to WiFi while you're commuting across campus? UAB IT is working with Parking & Transportation Services to outfit all of the Blazer Express buses with digital signage and WiFi. The digital signs will convey emergency information as well as general content from around campus. In addition, all buses will have a WiFi hotspot for improved connectivity to the internet. The signs and WiFi connectivity are in testing currently and will be piloted on two buses over the next four to six weeks. Plans are to roll out to all buses in the coming months.

New WiFi hotspots will focus on popular study areas
Upcoming campus WiFi improvements will be made in several areas that are popular final exam study halls, including Sterne Library, the Hill Student Center, Volker Hall and Lister Hill Library. UAB IT will be working with the Facilities Department to install the WiFi access points, primarily on Help Phones and outside building areas where students congregate. In addition, UAB IT is assessing other potential WiFi improvements as suggested by the Undergraduate Student Government Association, including the Campus Green, parking decks, OneStop, the Business and Engineering Complex, the Commons, Ryals, Heritage Hall lobby and fifth floor, athletic facilities (such as Bartow Arena), World of Wings, Subway and the Rec Center. 

Researchers, staff learn best ways to use Box in on-site visit 
Researchers and administrative officials had an opportunity last month to meet with representatives from Box to discuss how best to use the cloud storage service for their areas. Staff members from Student Affairs and Athletics and from the schools of Dentistry and Nursing, along with researchers from the School of Medicine and School of Public Health, met with Box experts and UAB IT team members to discuss their collaboration needs. In the process, they discussed the best plans for a folder structure within UAB Box to organize their files. Following those meetings, UAB IT will assist researchers and staff members with organizing their shared files and migrating them into UAB Box.

Cost-effective UAB corporate cell phone packages coming
UAB IT is rolling out bundled, cost-saving cell phone packages for UAB corporate cell phones, along with a more customer-friendly online form for ordering and managing UAB corporate phones. Packages will include unlimited text, video and photos and will be offered at a flat rate. The ordering workflow will also allow departments to approve requests online, making for a more streamlined process. The changes are expected to roll out in April. As part of a larger effort to lower costs, other ideas including cell phone stipends are being explored.

TechConnect plans vendor visits for demonstrations, Q&A
TechConnect, UAB IT's technology storefront at the Hill Student Center, will be offering product demonstrations and a chance to ask questions of vendor representatives through vendor visits planned in coming months. Last month, a Dell representative visited the storefront at Hill Student Center to meet students and staff. On May 19, an Apple representative will visit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for product demonstrations and Q and A. At any time, students, faculty and staff can purchase computers, tablets, software, accessories and other tech needs at educational pricing through the TechConnect web site.

OneTap system provides smoother event registration
An easier system for event registration at UAB will go live this month. UAB IT has been working with the OneCard office on the OneTap system, which allows event attendees to swipe or tap their OneCard when entering events on campus. Anyone interested in the new system can contact the OneCard office.
Board of Trustees to hear about research computing plans
Proposed improvements to the research computing infrastructure will be the subject of remarks Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr. will make to the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees on April 7. UAB IT is seeking approval for funding to increase UAB's research storage tenfold, from 0.7 to 6.7 petabytes. Learn more about research computing.

Intermacs suite goes worldwide with new database
UAB IT has been working with researchers in the School of Medicine to expand the suite of databases in the Intermacs system, the Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support. The new database, World Society for Pediatric & Congenital Heart Surgery, will be built to house cardiovascular surgery information, and is the first in the Intermacs system that will be an exclusively worldwide database, with no U.S. sites included.
SGA's Top 10 list includes improving connectivity, access
The Undergraduate SGA presented UAB IT with its Top 10 list of student technology needs during a forum last month with Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. and Deputy CIO Robert Howard. Among the suggestions are increasing accessibility; improving connectivity, which includes enhancing cell service in the Hill Student Center, expanding WiFi coverage in the libraries during mid-terms and finals, and strengthening WiFi connections in a number of areas around campus; and new technology suggestions, including a resource "checkout" and a laundry app that allows students to see which washers and dryers are available in residence halls. "We appreciate UAB IT’s willingness to listen to the student voice, and we look forward to working with IT to help foster technology improvements across campus," SGA President Garrett Stephens said. UAB IT is evaluating the list and hopes to respond with plans later this month.

Waitlist change will improve ability to schedule classes
UAB IT is working with the Office of the Provost to improve the waitlist function in BlazerNet, which will allow UAB to more quickly identify academic course needs. The new functionality is scheduled to go live in October, for spring 2017 registration. "This will allow us to stay ahead of the course demands," said Dr. Bradley Barnes, vice provost for enrollment management.

Change of major process streamlined in BlazerNet
The process of changing a student's major in BlazerNet has been streamlined, making it a cleaner user experience for students and academic advisors and making it easier for UAB IT to make changes in the system. The new functionality went live last month.
'Screen on the Green' will bring outdoor movie
A "Screen on the Green" outdoor movie event is being planned for early summer on the campus green. The event will be sponsored by UAB Information Technology and TechBridge, an organization that provides technology and business expertise to non-profit organizations.

Digital Dinner raises funds for area nonprofits
Eight UAB IT leaders attended a TechBridge Digital Dinner last month that raised more than $110,000 in sponsorships for Alabama non-profit organizations. In addition, the event ended with a crowdfunding "text-to-pledge" campaign that raised $15,650 in pledges for the YWCA of Central Alabama, which will use the funding for technology to better manage operations. TechBridge assists nonprofits with technology and business expertise. The UAB contingent attending the March 3 event was double the number of people who attended last year. The digital dinner was attended by more than 200 IT executives from across Birmingham.
Workshops focus on protecting consumers, data
Business and education leaders met at UAB March 23 to discuss public-private partnerships to improve cyber security and increase economic development by making Alabama a more attractive place to do business. The group looked at ways to increase opportunities to attract high-paying jobs and give K-12 students hands-on exposure to cyber security.

Cyber payment workshop hosts local retailers 
On March 22, in cooperation with the Alabama Retail Association, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and MITRE, UAB hosted a workshop for consumer-facing businesses on protecting consumer data. The UAB organizing committee for the event included Vice President and CIO Curtis Carver; Vice President for Research and Economic Development Richard Marchase; College of Arts & Sciences Dean Robert Palazzo; Collat School of Business Professor Robert Robicheaux; and Chairman of the Department of Computer & Information Sciences Yuliang Zheng.

Join beta trial for Keeper password management tool
A beta trial for a new password manager tool is under way. Keeper is being deployed to campus faculty and staff because it is a best-in-class enterprise password vault system. Anyone interested in joining the beta trial can contact AskIT.
Campus IT improves IT Service Portal
Campus IT professionals and other members of the UAB community are stepping up to make sure their voices are heard as improvements are made to the IT Service Portal. In an effort to continually improve, UAB IT is seeking feedback on the IT Service Portal, which launched earlier this year with minimal functionality to accelerate deployment to campus. Through feedback in forums and on SPARK, campus IT is rapidly fleshing out improvements to the portal to facilitate their needs. Click here for information on the focus groups surrounding the service portal. Users can also learn more about upcoming changes. Click here for details on the scheduled changes and updates already made.

UAB IT seeks community input on processes, services
UAB IT is seeking community input on its processes and services, with a new community coordinator reaching out to customers in a variety of ways. Shira Fogel, who has 10 years of experience at UAB, has joined the IT department in the new role. "We want not only to be transparent about our processes but for the UAB community to help co-design our processes," Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. said. The new position is part of a series of efforts to involve the UAB community, including the SPARK initiative that launched in June 2015 and town halls for campus IT professionals. Fogel has organized feedback forums and the first focus group for the IT Service Portal, with more interactive sessions planned in the future.

Employee Directory button directs to secure phonebook
UAB IT has streamlined the process of getting to the Employee Directory through the Administrative Systems page. The Employee Directory button has been updated to link directly to the secure UAB Electronic Phonebook site, via CAS, the Central Authentication Service.
ALUMNI EMAIL: UAB IT continues to work on a solution that would provide alumni with UAB email accounts.

FUTURE PROJECTS: Heeding calls for technology improvements on campus, UAB IT is exploring a number of new initiatives and projects. Among the proposals is the use of drones to deliver desktops to customers. Plans also call for exploring new mechanisms for transparency. Particularly in the new genomics building IT employees would occupy, transparency would be achieved by constructing the new building entirely of glass. "You might have problems with the restrooms, however," said Vice President and CIO Curtis Carver.
After Carver visited the animal research center recently, he also asked that UAB IT include pet-a-goats and terafloppyfish to its research computing initiatives. Proposals also include having UAB IT breed turtles to move faster to help make campus internet connections faster. "Reaching top speeds will be easier with this new technology," Carver promised. "I appreciate UAB IT's willingness to think outside the box. Lagging internet speeds will not help us develop a world-class IT organization."
Feedback from IT customers has been essential in developing many of these new projects. "Of course, some of these initiatives will be difficult to implement," Carver said. "Only those with 1 million votes on SPARK are likely to be funded." Lastly, UAB IT hopes to deploy robots to help students take photos on campus. "Selfies are an integral part of the college experience," Carver said.
DIGITAL SIGNAGE: UAB IT offers a digital signage solution that integrates campus-wide emergency messages. The dynamic, vibrant messaging features easily adaptable, branded content. Click here for information.
Last modified on April 01, 2016