UoD IT Newsletter
Top stories in this issue
UoD-IT’s initial emergency response to COVID-19
Amazon vouchers up for grabs!
What our customers have to say …
“IT have been fantastic”
“I couldn’t have done my job without their help”
“We really appreciate the service we received. It was invaluable.”
“The support from IT was brilliant!”
“NHS Lothian were recently seeking to purchase an increased number of headsets to support the rapid increase of video consultations to support rapid changes to clinical services in the current environment. When we spoke to the team at Jabra, they worked with their channel partners, and identified a customer who had previously ordered headsets, and was about to receive delivery. Jabra spoke to that customer, which was The University of Dundee, and your organisation kindly agreed to take a later delivery of some of your order to facilitate NHS Lothian getting priority delivery.
On behalf of NHS Lothian I wanted to thank The University of Dundee for their kindness and generosity. I wanted you to know that it is very much appreciated, and not taken for granted. Most of the headsets have been deployed in the past week with the priority being clinical services wishing to offer video consultations to patients. The remaining devices will be deployed in the coming week to general areas wishing to use Microsoft Teams for increased efficiency in their communications.”
UoD IT’s initial emergency response to COVID-19
Remote access to key services and applications
The need for remote access to the University of Dundee’s key services and applications has seen exceptional growth in the past weeks as we respond to the impact of COVID-19.
UoD IT have been working tirelessly to ensure staff and students continue to have access to key services and applications which allow them to be as creative and productive as possible as they learn, teach, undertake research and continue to run the organisation whilst working from home.
Certain apps need to run on the University network to work correctly and cannot be installed, or streamed, to your own machine. To facilitate this UoD IT introduced a new Remote Desktop Service (RDS). The RDS now provides access to several hundred PCs located on campus making it possible for staff and students to work and study from any location through virtual desktops.
Several of the University’s key business applications, such as P3, ePay, INVU have been made available to specific business users over the University’s Virtual Private Network (VPN), ensuring our colleagues in professional services continue to provide essential business functions, including running Payroll!
And while we are on the topic of Payroll, UoD-IT has successfully introduced a secure method of accessing your payslips and P60s from your PC, laptop, tablet or other mobile devices. Login to view your payslips now.
UoD IT’s ongoing priorities during COVID-19
Your personal and research data is stored by the University. This data is very valuable to criminals and rogue states. While a large percentage of the nation is working from home, cyber hackers are looking to exploit vulnerabilities in an attempt to steal valuable information. UoD IT have been working diligently to increase our cyber security by identifying protocols that may pose a security risk and proactively disabling all that do not support multi-factor authentication (MFA).
To help defend the University’s information, Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Safe Attachments and ATP Safe Links will be introduced, helping to safeguard the University from unknown email threats and malicious content.
For more information on how IT are tackling cyber security and helping to protect the University community during COVID-19, watch the below video message from the Assistant Director of IT, James Morris, who is responsible for the University’s Security, Infrastructure and Research Computing.
Giving you a better experience with the OneDundee Managed infrastructure
We want our users to have a great IT experience whether that be for work or study. Upgrading the OneDundee Managed infrastructure provides you with the best experience possible by enhancing performance, increasing security and boosting the University’s ability to communicate clearly and professionally.
IT are happy to announce that the infrastructure which underpins the OneDundee Managed Mac was successfully upgraded enabling UoD Managed Macs to support the latest version of Mac OS Catalina (macOS 10.15).
We have undertaken an extensive program of works to upgrade our Windows client infrastructure. This upgrade will bring you a more modern way of working and provide flexibility to work anywhere support model for devices located off-campus and help prepare for new and upcoming versions of Windows 10. To learn more about our Windows 10 Project, visit our IT Projects page.
Creating secure central online office environments for Health Services
In this unique moment, UoD IT have learned and progressed more quickly than ever to provide the best service possible to the University community while staying aligned to the OneDundee approach.
When the University of Dundee Health Services’ old Access database became unrepairable, we created a solution which enables Health Services to collect data of patients and provide detailed reports. We provided a solution using a SharePoint site and PowerApps Forms allowing data capture of all enquiries, admissions and appointments coming through Health Services.
The main part of the build has been successfully completed and being populated with data, UoD IT will continue to support the users by enabling them to create reports and workflows using a range of Office 365 tools including PowerBI and PowerAutomate.
The COVID-19 crisis has made paper-based office processes near impossible and has accelerated the pace of digital transformation beyond our wildest dreams.
In the blink of an eye Health Services had to transfer their paper notes online. UoD IT provided support in the creation of a MS Team site to store and manage their Case notes. The new Health Service MS Team site is structured in a way that links back through to their newly created SharePoint site giving Health Services a secure central online office environment.
Given the ongoing success of this project Keith Mackle, Head of Student Support Services has requested UoD IT work with other units across the Student Support Hub who currently don’t have a workable solution to define their requirements and create similar central online office environments.
‘A truly OneDundee effort’
The University of Dundee went into “full lockdown” or Working from Home (WFH) on the 23rd March. This meant that the vast majority of University Staff and students had to effectively leave or to use the more dramatic term “evacuate” the University campus at (relatively) short notice.
Iain Gordon, a Service Delivery Manager for End User Services gives an account of the necessary steps taken by him and his team to provide on-campus support for those tasks that can’t be done remotely (CDR). Oh, how IT love a good acronym!
“Over the past 8 weeks, I have been responsible for coordinating on-campus IT support activity. This task has been carried out against a background of huge concern with COVID-19 and the impact it was having on the country. One of my top priorities was safeguarding the health of all on-site staff and students, and I have been able to achieve this with the great support of my team and the UoD IT Service Desk as a whole.
Here is a brief indication of the nature of work undertaken on campus
- Provision of loan equipment to students who could be disadvantaged by not having access to IT equipment (we are delighted to have provided over 100 laptops and PCs to assist students in their studies/exams and submissions)
- Support to students who are still in University accommodation on campus
- Responding to a myriad of issues arising out of on-campus power cuts (two weeks in a row!)
- Providing IT equipment, telephony and support for high priority new COVID-19 research rooms in Ninewells
- Daily liaison and responsive testing/troubleshooting with a telecoms support engineer from Sri Lanka with regards to a major incident affecting 600+ phones
- Sourcing and imaging assorted laptops to deploy as loan devices for staff
- Network troubleshooting across campus
- Ensuring that essential research IT support requirements were provided to on-site staff in the School of Life Sciences
It is important to reflect on the fact that this on-campus activity is not just an isolated UoD IT effort – this work has involved collaboration with staff from Schools and Departments and would not have been possible without the assistance of colleagues in Campus Services – a truly One Dundee effort – well done all!”
What’s next for IT?
UoD IT Self Service Portal
The Self-Service Portal provides direct access to IT services you can request at the touch of a button – Have you tried it yet?
What can you do in Self Service?
You can; request services, check the status of your call and update it 24/7 as well as keep up to date with the very latest status on IT services.
How are we improving what we offer you?
UoD-IT are in the process of making more self-help guides available in the ‘Look for an answer’ section, This will help you to quickly find answers to our most commonly asked questions In addition, IT will be expanding our service offerings, making it easier than ever to make a request for our services.
What’s coming next? – watch this space ………
IT are excited to tell you about our new live chat service that will be launching over the summer months.
This service will provide direct access to a live agent who can assist with your query.
Tell us what you think to win an Amazon voucher
Customer feedback is an important part of developing this service. UoD-IT have 2 x £20 Amazon vouchers up for grabs – all you need to do is use any of the services on the self-service portal and send your feedback via the Customer Feedback Form by Friday 26 July to enter the prize draw.
Research facilities in Pure
Central access to UoD Research facilities outputs can be fragmented across various systems and spreadsheets held locally. This leads to administrative overhead, inconsistent and static data with unreliable reporting, all of which can adversely affect our research facilities to evidence their impact and contribution towards our world-leading research transforming lives across the globe.
To gather this information centrally our team worked with our partners in LLC to develop the option to build relationships between research facilities and published activity within the Discovery portal. Our two earlier adopters Tayside Clinical Trials Unit (TCTU) and Health Informatics Centre (HiC) have gone live.
Gillian Craig, TCTU Administrator commented “Part of the department’s website redesign, we were looking to have a more informative way to promote TCTUs research output and the range of projects we support. Before TCTU was created as a research facility for us, we displayed our publications as a static list of text that was not interactive or attractive. The Discovery research portal has benefited TCTU as it gives us the ability to highlight the many different collaborators we work with on a range of different research areas and shows the impact our research has. The admin of adding research papers to our account was very simple and the profile provides us with an up to date record of our research. The Discovery portal also provides a central point of access to our research, for both our staff and external interested parties.”
A message from Jonathan Monk
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a human tragedy; at the end of 2019, when news of the virus began filtering in from China, few of us will have appreciated just how profoundly it would affect us all. The University began its pivot to remote digital teaching early due to our partnership with Wuhan University. The way that all of our students and staff, both academic and professional services have adapted to new ways of working has been exemplary.
I think that it is important to note that although we did not anticipate a global pandemic of this scale, our Business Continuity Planning had prepared us for a similar incident. Therefore, many of the decisions we have made over the previous years have placed us in a good position to adapt to circumstances. These have included the switch to laptop computers, the enablement of Office 365 features such as Teams, the migration of key systems such as Blackboard into the cloud and the installation of modern VPN technology as part of the network refresh project.
Our ability to make the transition from on-campus learning to online delivery was made easier by our decision to adopt existing tools and focus on solutions that reused existing components in novel ways rather than creating from scratch. Examples of the innovation that we have developed with key partners are detailed in this issue. In fact, many other institutions have since asked us for advice around how we adapted so quickly. I would like to personally thank all of the IT staff who have worked tirelessly from home, the University staff who have accepted that some things are not quite perfect and worked with us to improve our services, and finally, our inspiring student community who have coped so well with the rapid shift to digital learning.
From the editors ...
We hoped you enjoyed the first issue of the UoD IT quarterly newsletter. The next newsletter will be distributed on Monday 7 September. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Thanks!