Protecting the privacy of students
With over 6,000 students and a large teaching staff, university officials knew it was important to implement a reliable mass notification system that could reach their entire community quickly if it were ever threatened. However, gathering current contact information for everyone on campus turned out to be more difficult than expected.
The Problem: Managing passwords for every student
A unque problem faced by many colleges and universities that require staff and students to use passwords to access information is the need to offer a scalable passwor retrieval and reset capability. In fact, research shows that as much as 70% of all helpdesk calls are for issues of forgotten, lost or expired passwords.
In a campus as large as this one, helping students recover passwords could really bog down a helpdesk. The director of IT at the school wanted a solution that would prevent this from happening at his campus.
The Solution: MIR3 from OnSolve
In the spring of 2007, Virginia Tech suffered a devastating attack by a student. This made colleges and universities across the nation aware of the need for a way to reach students quickly when danger threatened. At this university, the security team had already been researching ways to reach the campus population in case of emergency and, spurred to action by the Virginia Tech incident, they implemented MIR3 from OnSolve. The school adopted the notification system as a reliable way to deliver important messages to students, faculty and staff by cell phone, landline phone, fax, text and more.
While the MIR3 solution provided the best possible system for notification and awareness in the event of a threat on campus, the fact that the solution came with a software development kit (SDK) that helped the university create solutions to its password and security issue as well. Knowing that students must create a password to access class schedules, grades and other relevant school information, and that passwords are often forgotten or lost, the IT director focused his team on creating a self-service reset password management system.
Using the SDK API, they successfully created a system that no longer required calling a helpdesk for a lost password. By delivering the new password to the student’s cell phone rather than an email account, the new system provided added security for this critical information.
Using this integration, students could retrieve and reset passwords themselves, whenever they wish, using personal information provided when they initially created their accounts, saving helpdesk resources for more urgent tasks. Then the team took efficiency a step further. By tying access to the self-service password system to providing a cell number for the existing emergency notification system, they effectively increased the number of students opting in. Since students are often in transit and far from landlines and without ready email access, the ability to reach them with an important message by cell phone or SMS was a distinct advantage. This gives the campus population greater protection if a threat to health and safety ever arises.
How the university benefits from MIR3
- Students have a better experience and are empowered to solve their own issues of passwords recovery and reset, saving time and money by reducing the burden on helpdesk resources
- Integration of mulitple systems creates cost savings and efficiency, as well as new services for students, faculty and staff
- More students gain access to emergency alerts because the password reset tools provide an added incentive for everyone associate with the institution to register for the integrated tool
The bottom line
Top-notch educational facilities like this one are finding and developing unique ways to use technology to improve campus life, increase safety and make processes more beneficial for everyone. Through continued integrations and the flexibility of SaaS-based architectures, universities and other organizations will continue to find unique applications and integrations between the key systems they rely on every day.