IT personnel working in the for-profit corporate world have it easy compared to their colleagues on college and university campuses. Computerworld calls the chief information officers in higher education the “unsung heroes of academia.”
“Far from taking it easy while students are out on break, higher-ed CIOs work tirelessly all summer to prepare for every imaginable back-to-school nightmare, from a security breach to a network outage to a Twitterstorm of negative publicity,” said writer Cindy Waxer in a Computerworld article profiling the challenges of serving thousands of students, faculty, and staff on a campus.
Some institutions, faced with balancing cost and service, are coming up with innovative solutions. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, upgraded its wireless network to ensure enough access points in areas where concentrated numbers of students might need to jump on at the same time—such as classrooms—but scaled back the access points in dormitories and other areas where users are spread out.
Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA, looked to police tactics to improve computer technician response times. Noting how some police departments crunch data to determine “crime hot spots” and then assign more patrol cars to those areas, the school used computer modeling to predict where technicians would be most needed at various times.
“Technicians are now situated in key locations around campus so that if an issue arises, they can be on-site within minutes,” the article noted. Average response time is now 13 minutes. Previously, it took a technician one to two hours to show up.