Information Technology Focus Group Update

August 13, 2020

Zia Mafaher
Associate Vice President
Network and Communication Systems
Center for Information Technology Services

Sharon Bowser
Associate Dean and CIO 
University of Maryland
School of Medicine

The Main Point(s) Update

  1. Continue to provide IT virtual resources for working and learning off-site
  2. Ensure IT security requirements are met for on-site hardware and software as well as for personal devices being used off-site
  3. Coordinate the return of technical support staff to campus in numbers that meet the needs of students, staff, and faculty
  4. Expand on the availability of virtual training

IT Virtual Resources Update

  • Tele-Education: learning management systems
    • Integration of Blackboard with WebEx and Zoom
    • Integration of CE21 with Zoom
  • Virtual simulation: virtual rooms
    • integration of Learning Space with Zoom
  • WebEx Teams (Hybrid Calling)
    • UMB phone numbers now can be answered from a computer or from a mobile phone, and their caller ID displays the University extension
  • Virtual proctoring software
    • New software and additional licenses are being acquired by Schools.
  • Electronic FAX solution
    • Retarus eFax solution is being implemented
  • Conversion of paper documents/processes to an electronic format
    • DocuSign is being implemented
      • Travel and Telework documents are being created for routing and esignatures
  • Expanding availability of virtual resources in MS Azure and AWS cloud infrastructures
    • New computer resources are being configured in Azure and AWS
  • Virtual event platform
    • Several platforms have been identified for student orientation and schools/university events
    • Virtual event subcommittee under Communications Task Force will make recommendations and provide guidance
  • Closed Caption
    • WebEx and Zoom
      • WebEx Assistant is currently being tested (50 user License). Sept.2020 is the release date
      • Zoom Otter is currently being tested (20 user License). October 2020 is the release date
    • Closed Caption subcommittee under Communications Task Force will make recommendations and provide guidance
  • Providing IT resources for Teleworkers/Working remotely
    • Provide MiFi/Hotspot for Staff/faculty and students who have no Internet service coverage
    • Provide loaner laptops for staff and faculty while teleworking, if needed
    • Provide Docking stations to connect office monitors to laptops
  • IT resources for remote learning
    • The financial aid package includes funds with which students can purchase a computer and internet service.
    • During fall 2019, 79% of UMB enrolled students received financial aid
    • Several schools have a laptop requirement for incoming freshman

IT Security Update

  • Provide additional security awareness training
    • IT Security training has been provided to Staff and Faculty
  • Identify and address IT security Vulnerabilities
    • Outdated operating systems with possible security vulnerabilities on personal computers used for tele-work are being identified and evaluated
  • Implement new IT security tools to strengthen UMB network and system security
    • New IT security tools are being implemented

IT Support Update

  • Ensure that technical support staff practice safe distancing, have access to PPE, and participate in health checks
    • Coordination with Procurement for PPE purchases
    • Staff is required to participate in SAFE program
  • Continue to effectively support tele-work and tele-education and expand and enhance teaching and learning systems as needed
    • Management is actively monitoring Helpdesk tickets to ensure proper support is provided in a timely manner
  • Provide IT support resources to faculty and students as they prepare for a blended approach of virtual didactic teaching/learning and in-person clinical instruction
    • IT support is being provided and resources will be readily available
  • Consider IT Support shift work to accommodate the needs of remote workers not working traditional business hours
    • Extending hours for support staff is being considered
  • Respond to faculty/staff/student survey results and mapping of the Internet coverage across the State of Maryland to locate areas that need an alternative solution for Internet access
    • The Internet survey and mapping results show very few gaps in coverage across the State.
    • New agreement with Comcast for providing Internet access to students/residents of the Bio-Park communities


Main Point #4 – Virtual Training

  • Expand virtual training opportunities for the UMB community to learn more about web conferencing platforms for events (WebEx events, MS Teams and Zoom Webinar); highlighting the benefits of using one over the other
    • CITS website has been updated with Q&A and new training materials
  • Prepare and deliver virtual training for all new software
    • Virtual trainings are being delivered successfully
  • Prepare virtual “Job shadowing” for new hires/ transfers
    • Virtual Job shadowing for new hires/transfers is being held successfully.

New Visitor Management System Project

  • Visitor Management System (VMS)
    A VMS is needed to streamline visitor check in and check out   process. Manage visitors across multiple buildings on campus.   Customize visitor profiles and get real-time data access to   visitor’s list
    • CITS is coordinating efforts with the Operations Task Force and Public Safety to evaluate and implement a VMS

Considerations and Assumptions

  • Required resources are available (dollars and staff) for these IT projects; as well as for the IT projects identified in the other Focus Group Areas
    • If shortcomings are identified, further discussions regarding priorities will be needed
  • With necessary precautions, IT staff will be able to return to campus to perform on-site work
    • Social distancing guidelines and accommodations will be followed
  • New resources required to support telework, telelearning and community initiatives
    • Functional and IT resources will be required to support virtual event solutions
    • Help Desk support for UMB digital divide community project

Approval Requests

  • To proceed with the projects and activities pertaining to the main points in this presentation by working collaboratively with the IT leaders in CITS and in each School and Department
    • Requesting approval to proceed with Visitor Management System (VMS)

Focus Area Members

  • Zia Mafaher (Primary Lead)
  • Sharon Bowser (Deputy Lead)
  • Keith T Brooks
  • Kent Buckingham
  • Amir Chamsaz
  • Mike Green
  • Tim Munn
  • David Pitts
  • Matt Rietschel
  • Patricia A. Scott
  • James Stephens

Legal Support

  • Deepa Bhattacharyya