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The conference, TechJunction Alabama 2015, is being sponsored by TechBirmingham and a variety of national sponsors. UAB has joined many of the larger employers in Birmingham in endorsing the event.
Dr. Curt Carver is a member of their advisory board and will be chairing the CIO panel during one of the sessions. The keynote address will be given by Brunson White, Secretary of Information Technology for the State of Alabama.
The event is free and open to all technology employees at UAB. There is no charge to attend this event, but advance registration is required. Employees wishing to attend the conference should seek clearance from their supervisors before registering.
Back in the 1980s, a new way of doing business evolved as corporations began collecting, combining, and crunching data from sources throughout their enterprise. Their goal was to improve the bottom line by discerning hidden patterns and thereby improving the decision making process. Three decades later, this goal has expanded to include increased student achievement and other data-driven decision making processes.
In the past year, UAB has produced groundbreaking discoveries and innovations, delivering on the promise of “knowledge that will change your world.” The university’s overarching mission pillars embody the commitment to educate, advance research and discovery, care for the sick, respond to the needs of the community and use knowledge to establish Alabama as a progressive economic center that can change the world.
None of this is possible without cutting edge technology and advanced business analysis, which is one of the seven UAB IT strategic imperatives.
On the student side, UAB IT currently has dashboards available for the following content areas:
- Retention and graduation
- Credit hour production
- Admissions funnel
- Active course registration
- Graduating student career plan survey results
Each of the dashboards has drill-down capabilities that allow users to focus and dissect delivered information specific to their area of interest.
The census enrollment dashboard image shown below provides a good example of UAB diversity trends for the past five years.
Jon Corliss and his team are working tirelessly on supporting institution-wide initiatives concerning faculty and student engagements and student recruitment and retention.
The Office of Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni is another BI (business intelligence) consumer. Cognos allows them to focus on two additional institution-wide initiatives: alumni engagement and campaigning for UAB.
In one month, 73 Cognos users utilized dashboards and reports, delivered by the business intelligence department and the Office of Associate Vice President for Development & Alumni, either to justify decisions or look for business opportunities.
The Director of Human Resources Information Systems, Rahul Thadani, and HR Administrative Systems manager, Jason Womack, reached out to UAB IT recently. They indicated significant interest in using the Cognos platform for their BI needs.
Soon HR and UAB IT will be able answer questions such as: Which program is successful that prepares diverse students to lead, teach, provide professional services and to become the prominent scholars and societal leaders of the future? Which department is efficiently utilizing resources to stimulate innovation?
The future looks bright when UAB fosters an institutional, data-driven, decision-making culture that allows UAB to make informed and optimal decisions.
Researchers at UAB need a robust computer network to support their world-class work.
A new grant awarded to Puri Bangalore, associate professor and director of the Collaborative Computing Laboratory, will strengthen that network and increase its speed — tenfold.
Bangalore, who also serves as assistant director of the UAB Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, received a $498,443 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a ScienceDMZ, a network to be operated by UAB IT that will allow UAB researchers to more easily and quickly connect with each other and with other institutions.
With UAB researchers working on projects that generate vast amounts of data, they need to be able to upload and download files and images quickly and securely, Bangalore said.
The goal in building the ScienceDMZ is to provide UAB researchers with 10-gigabit connections and key research labs with 40-gigabit connections, allowing researchers to communicate with each other and with researchers at other institutions at far greater speeds.
“Internally we can move faster, plus we can go outside, whether to upload or download data,” Bangalore said. “This promotes collaboration. Instead of waiting for data to transfer, researchers can be working.”
Bangalore said the network is essential to UAB’s success in research.
“If we don’t do this, we’ll be left behind,” Bangalore said. “Networking is the foundation. We now live in a digital world. Everything is digitally driven.” This grant provides the foundation for UAB to build the 100 Gbps network — giving researchers a network they can depend on as they would electricity or water service at home. “In an ideal world you would want (researchers) to take this for granted,” he said. “We just expect things to work. But obviously, someone needs to make sure they work.”
UAB is revising its password/passphrase policy to ensure better security for campus assets.
Beginning Sept. 15, passwords/passphrases will need to be 15 characters, but the passwords will expire after one year.
Implementation of the policy will be phased in; while users can change their passwords at any time at BlazerID Central, they will not be required to change their passwords to 15 characters until their current password expires. Enforcement of the new requirements and expiration will begin on the first password change event after the policy goes into effect on Sept. 15.
Fifteen-character passwords are much harder to crack than eight-character passwords, making them more secure than UAB’s current standard. Once a password/passphrase expires, a user will never be able to reuse it.
A strong passphrase:
- Is a series of words that create a phrase.
- Does not contain common phrases found in literature or music. You can choose a sentence or phrase that is familiar to you, but use the first letter of every word as a mnemonic device.
- Does not contain words found in the dictionary. You can replace certain letters in words with numbers, such as 1 for an I or L.
- Does not contain your user name, real name or company name.
UAB’s passphrases must contain three of the following four characters: an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a special symbol.
When users log into BlazerID Central to change their passwords, they will automatically be prompted to enroll a phone number in the Identity feature, which allows users to more easily reset a BlazerID password/passphrase without having to contact AskIT.
UAB IT is also actively pursuing a contract for a password manager for faculty, staff and students.
"UAB IT is listening intently to campus, so that we can act intentionally to meet the technology needs of faculty, staff and students," Carver said.
Telephone service at Denman was not affected.
Construction crews have begun replacing the conduit and fiber cables, with service estimated to be restored by early next week.
We apologize for the interruption of service, which was out of our control.
A simple technology change provided by UAB IT’s telecommunications unit helped the office better serve potential donors — and helped UAB’s Annual Fund collect more philanthropic gifts to support schools, departments and libraries across campus.
Initially, the Office of Annual Giving asked UAB IT to change its unlisted number projected on caller ID to a live number that would direct back to the office, said Randy Kinder, senior director of Annual Giving for UAB. In just one day, UAB IT fulfilled the request.
“Be careful what you ask for,” Kinder said.
The result of the change was positive — but had the Annual Giving staff, who typically fielded two to three calls a week, trying to keep up with a much greater volume of returned calls from potential donors.
“The result was approximately 50 calls per day to Annual Giving regarding a missed call from our department,” Kinder said. “Most folks just wanted to know who we are and why we were calling, but several also made philanthropic gifts to the university during the return calls.”
In fact, the volume of calls prompted another request to UAB IT.
“We needed these calls to be directed to a different number, with a custom voicemail, and for the voicemails to be sent to an email account,” Kinder said. “This way, we could manage returned calls without drastically impacting our resources.”
That request was also fulfilled quickly, allowing Annual Giving and student phonathon staff to focus on seeking gifts for the Annual Fund, which provides funding for scholarships, programs, out-of-classroom learning, curriculum enhancements and more.
“This has been a monumental addition to our operations, which has allowed us to provide superior donor relations and transparency,” Kinder said.
To learn more about the Office of Annual Giving and the UAB Annual Fund, click here.
Each month, the chief information security officers for UA, UAB, UAB Medicine and UAHuntsville publish a monthly electronic newsletter to help users avoid IT errors.
Summer 2015 | Issue No. 8
March 2015 | Issue No. 6
February 2015 | Issue No. 5
January 2015 | Issue No. 4
December 2014 | Issue No. 3
November 2014 | Issue No. 2
October 2014 | Issue No. 1