Students who’ve arrived at Thorne without their OneCards recently have been swiping in with the help of an iPad. The system is the latest project of the Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC).
Every week, ITAC meets with Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis to discuss solutions to students' information technology related concerns.
“We take suggestions from the student body,” said Matt Glatt ’14, co-chairman of ITAC, “We talk about the suggestions and how we’ll implement them. It’s strictly project-based.”
ITAC is composed of Glatt, Co-Chairman Chris Kan ’13 and Romeo Ibanez ’15.
Once Davis approves the group's suggestions, which have ranged from public charging stations to GPS shuttle tracking, ITAC members reach out to the Bowdoin staff members likely to be involved in each project. After tweaking and testing the initiatives, they are introduced to the Bowdoin community.
Other completed projects include the online package notification system, free copies of Apple’s Mountain Lion operating system for students, and student-friendly Blackboard maintenance hours.
“If it weren’t for them, all of those things wouldn’t have gotten done. I found it very valuable to have their feedback,” Davis said. “It’s almost always in areas I don’t go to. There’s no way for me to experience the problems they are having.”
“This is a really old council that was formed when Mitch first got here,” Glatt said. In the fall of 2010, Kan and Glatt decided to meet with Davis to restart the organization. “It just kind of disbanded, and Chris and I picked it up again.”
The ITAC website offers a list of current and past projects, a wireless feedback form, and their online suggestion box. Input from the wireless feedback form allows the IT department to quickly fix any weak or dead Wi-Fi spots on campus.
Kan and Glatt played important roles in communicating student complaints about the slow network to the IT department, leading to the state-of-the-art Cisco network installation last winter.
Many projects, however, are still in the works. An online ordering system for Jack Magee's Pub, which would be more convenient for customers and staff, is one of ITAC's top priorities.
Webcams in Moulton, Thorne, Sargent Gym and Morrell Gym are also under consideration. The goal is to allow faculty, staff, and students to check availability and crowd levels, preventing long meal lines and unnecessary trips to a full gym. Webcams are currently available for Hubbard Hall, Coles Tower, and the Wentworth Servery in Thorne Dining Hall.
Glatt would also like to see a Bowdoin Security app, which students could use to contact offices if they find themselves in trouble. None of these projects have specific timeframes or release dates, but they are on the horizon.
ITAC also spurred the creation of a GPS shuttle tracker, which was introduced in December 2011. The website now shows an error message. Glatt says Security and Facilities are currently seeking a better commercial long-term solution than the iPad trackers they previously used.
“It’s not ‘shutdown’ per se, but who knows how long it will take,” said Glatt.
Kan, Glatt and Ibanez say they are always looking for new suggestions and problems to address, and hope that ITAC can grow.
“I want us to get bigger. I want us to have more members,” Glatt said. “It’s not exclusive now, it’s just that no one really knows about it.”
Holding meetings as an open forum with more student input is Glatt's ultimate goal.
“[Davis] is really into meeting with students and getting their perspective,” Glatt said. “A lot of schools don’t have anything like this.”