Report: March 26, 2008


Report of the meeting of the COMPUTING COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 3:10 p.m. in the Ante Room, #3129, S.B.

Present: J. Lim (in the Chair), A. Wensley, C. Capewell, R. deSouza, D. Kreuger, C. Mejia, D. O’Day, R. da Silva, A. Akers, J. Hu, S. Senese, A. Vyas
Regrets: J. Sills, T. Al-Sarraj

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting (February 27, 2008)

The minutes of the last meeting was approved.

2. Report of the Chief Information Officer:

a) Computing Services: the year’s accomplishments

Mr. Lim discussed the department’s accomplishments over the past year, which are also listed on the Computing Services website in the “about us” section. He reported that during the past year, the department established a technical operations committee, allowing information technology staff on campus to have an open technical discussion on technology and the validity of its adaptation in the UTM environment. That group differs from the Computing Committee in that the latter is focused more on information technology policy. The group also sets standards for access and security, software development platform, hardware and network configuration, and client support.

The department evaluates new technologies and implements new services every year. Projects completed during the 2007-08 academic year are as follows:

  • UTORid/UTORmail migration for staff
  • UPass Application – Admin and User site for decal distribution
  • Meal Plan Application – Meal Plan Selection, Financial Reports and Audit Trail
  • VPN Solution – Virtual Private Network for secure access from home
  • UTM Dropbox Application – Efficient solution for file sharing
  • Desktop Repair for Students, Staff and Faculty
  • Network Security Policy – New policy approved by the Computing Committee and Erindale College Council
  • i-Clicker Stats collection – Real-time stats collection of in-class electronic survey
  • A/V Booking System (Phase I) – Interface with ORBS from the Office of the Registrar
  • U of T Events Calendar – Collaborative work with St. George.

Projects the department is currently working on include the following:

  • Online Marker – Online Essay Marker with wiki capability (Funded by ITCDF)
  • Conference Services Application – Web application for entire Conference Services Operation
  • Request Tracker Help Desk Application
  • Wireless Solution for the Tuzo Research Wing
  • Server Virtualization
  • ClassNet
  • Medical Academy
  • Video Conferencing
  • UPortal – Integration with Blackboard LMS
  • Migration of mailing list to UTORmail
  • Upgrade to UTM Backbone
  • Private Network for Grounds and Utilities
  • Client management tools for remote assistance
  • Remote printing for students via wireless
  • AccessAbility Resource Web Application
  • E-Commerce Hosting Service
  • Secure Desktop – Domain Logon using UTORid
  • Rogue Network Devices Detection
  • Network monitoring software (OpenNMS, MRTG, ntop and Cacti)
  • Mr. Lim noted that many of the above projects depend on budget approval. If budgetary approval is granted, then wireless service will be installed for the Tuzo research wing.

b) Planned summer projects

Mr. Lim discussed planned projects for the summer of 2008 and noted that again, many of these projects depended on funding:

  • Upgrade all CCT computer labs: including the Psychology laboratory, room # 1151 in the South Building, including the software used in these labs; XP will remain as the operating system of choice
  • Expansion of the “Common Labs” in the North Building study area, where more computers will be added
  • Creation of new laboratory (CCT2100) by removing the wall between room # 2100 and 2110 and installing 24 Windows lab machines. In addition room # 1157 and room #1154, both in the South Building are planned to be reconfigured
  • Some upgrades to current storage and back up infrastructure
  • Migration of mailing lists to St. George

The Chair opened the floor to questions and comments.

In response to a member’s question on when the funding for the installation of wireless service in the research wing is expected, Mr. deSouza explained that the university is currently trying to find the needed funds for this project, which is in excess of $200,000 for the entire project. He noted that he is committed to completing this project and added that the network will be a private secure wireless network and that is why it has been separated from other infrastructure considerations.

3. New Business:

a) New email guidelines from the Office of the Provost – Joe Lim

Mr. Lim distributed a handout describing new guidelines for email services. He explained that under the Policy on Information Technology, the Vice-President and Provost is authorized to establish guidelines for information technology services at the university. This guideline will be implemented and anyone who is providing email service will have to sign an accountability form, making them accountable to the Vice-President and Provost and/or the Director of Strategic Computing.

Mr. Lim explained that a service information template needs to be completed by each of the university’s email service providers, which defines areas such as access, anti-spam and anti-virus, appropriate use, authentication service, business continuity, delivery service goal, email attachment limit and email naming, encryption, junk mail filtering, message recovery, procedure for notification of email abuses and mailbox quota. He noted that currently there are two UTM departments that run their own email server (Geography and Biology) and they will be asked to report on compliance with institutional standards.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

In response to a member’s question, Mr. Lim explained that other units may elect to offer email services to their constituents for reasons such as scale or specialization as well as historical reasons. He noted that these departments will need to provide backup recovery and abide by rules, which can be very costly. He also noted that one of the reasons behind these guidelines is to ensure that service providers really understand the need to guarantee message delivery and prevent outsourcing to Gmail and others. Mr. Lim added that if outsourcing occurs, there is a question of where the email will reside and what happens when emails are lost.

b) Digital signage guidelines: Anil Vyas, Manager of the Technology Resource Centre

With respect to digital signage on campus, the office of the Technology Resource Centre developed the following six guidelines for proper use:

  1. The vendor must provide login Access (on campus and off campus) to UTM for emergency and special communications
  2. Hardware must comply with UTM’s Network and Security Policy
  3. Timing of the upload process and schedule must comply with UTM’s Network and Security Policy
  4. Hardware installation must comply with UTM’s Physical Security Policy
  5. Any advertising for digital signage display at UTM must be approved by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
  6. Departmental digital signage projects must be submitted to the Chief Administrative Officer for consultation and approval

Regarding the above guidelines, the Chief Administrative Officer reported that 15 LCD’s will be installed throughout the campus, which will provide the campus with a method of communicating in crisis and emergency situations. He explained that UTM opted to go with a service provider that will manage the screens in the following way: one panel has been designated for 24-hour news; a second panel will be reserved for local advertising (special menu items; plays); a third panel will have scrolling messages on Office of the Registrar deadlines or road work announcements; and a final panel will be set aside for commercial advertising to generate revenue. A committee is already in place to approve such ads, as it already considers Zoom advertising in restrooms. In emergency situations, all 15 screens will be taken over by the office of the Chief Administrative Officer for posting immediate information.

The Chair opened the floor to questions and comments.

In response to a member’s question, Mr. deSouza explained that message content will be controlled by the Director of Communications along with the service provider.

A member suggested looking at the Scarborough model for departmental signage, since their software is considered of high quality.

The Chair announced that the next meeting of the Computing Committee was schedule for the fall of 2008.

The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.

Secretary ______________________________ Chair _______________________________