Wireless Campus

Wireless Campus

IT Vice President Warner looks forward

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Where five years ago the Internet was little-used by most of the Boston College community, today e-mail and the World Wide Web are staples of University life. But that's nothing compared to what's coming over the next five years, says Information Technology Vice President Kathleen Warner.

Nine months into her tenure as Boston College's first vice president for IT, Warner is overseeing a network upgrade that will affect every desktop and thoroughly revamp the BC Web site, among other things.

As soon as next year, for example, Warner envisions a "wireless campus," she said, where a faculty member could sit on Bapst Lawn and us e a laptop computer to grade papers, research a book or chat with students and colleagues around the globe.

"The Internet is changing the way we live and the way we work," said Warner, "and living in Internet time means things need to be done now."

In a recent interview, Warner offered a brief look at how the University's information technology resources and facilities are being prepared for the 21st century.

Kathleen Warner: The Information Technology Vice President sees the day coming soon when faculty, staff and students will have access to the network from anywhere on campus, even outdoors.

One of the most critical initiatives Warner cited is the sweeping "Desktop 2000" campaign, which will replace the primary desktop computers of all BC employees with new high-power systems and standard software. Warner said the project is about two-thirds completed, with 2,000 new computers already in place, and a remaining 1,000 to be installed by Oct. 29. These machines, like all University IT systems, are Y2K compliant, she added.
Next year will see the debut of a thoroughly redesigned BC Web site, Warner said, making it easier for Internet visitors to quickly find information about the University. As part of the redesign, she added, Agora and InfoEagle will be incorporated into an "intranet," an in-house network for the BC community.

Warner said the "wireless campus" is expected by June 2000, when small sensor boxes installed on each floor of every building o n the Main Campus will allow wireless radio transmission between computers and servers anywhere on campus. The technology was successfully tested by the Biology Department this summer, she said, and plans call for the Newton Campus to go wireless later next year.

The Agora system also continues to undergo refinements, Warner said, with the most recent innovation enabling departments to view operating budgets and process budget transfers using attractive and simplified Web-based screens.

Other projects include introduction of network security software in November, and by next spring, a Web-based system that will simplify conference room booking, she added.

"All the new technology we introduce has a lifespan of three to five years," she said. "We're constantly forward-thinking. This is an ongoing process. It never ends. You have to have a sense of where you want to be in 10 years.

"Boston College wants to be a leader in information technology, a showcase for other universities. We don't want to just keep up. We want to lead the pack."

Return to Sept. 3 menu

Return to Chronicle home page