Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: The Wireless Campus
Year Submitted 2006
Name of Institution Mount Allison University
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Helmut Becker<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Director, Computing Services
Telephone: 506-364-2470
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Abstract

All of the staff in Computing Services was involved in the process leading up to the decision to implement this system, and in the implementation itself. Other members of the community were kept informed of progress, and were eager to have the system, but were not involved in the project until it was implemented. However, since implementation in 2004 we have had many satisfied users.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.
Transferability

The same results could be achieved at any university that has a wired campus, and Mount Allison would be pleased to share what it has learned with institutions interested in taking this approach.

Quality Impact

We expected to provide students and faculty with a convenient, easy to use wireless system that could be accessed from anywhere on campus; to do this with a low capital cost, with no increase in staff and with an overall decrease in operating expenses; and to end up with a system that would be used extensively. The system has now been in operation for over 18 months and all of our expectations have been met. We have more than twenty percent of the University population using the service, and doing so from everywhere on campus; we have had no reports of areas where coverage is lacking or weak; and we have been able to eliminate one of our student computer labs, thus reducing costs. And the system has proven to be reliable and easily managed from a central location without additional staff.

Productivity Impact

The most significant productivity gains have resulted because, as the use of the wireless system increased, the use of our student computer labs decreased. As a result, we have been able to close one of these labs and reduce our computer lab capacity by 20%. We believe that this reduction was made possible because students, many of whom carry notebooks or PDAs, can conduct their business from wherever they are when they want to do so. As a result we have freed a room for other uses, saved perhaps $15,000 per year in lab equipment-replacement costs, and reduced the burden on the staff who maintains computer equipment. While in absolute terms these may not seem to be significant results, for a small University like Mount Allison which has only 2100 students they are very significant. And now that we live under a "wireless cloud", we expect to achieve additional savings in the future when we use the system to provide telephone services and to replace our radio systems and because we will no longer need to hardwire rooms when they are renovated or converted to other uses. No doubt there have been productivity gains for individual students and faculty, who can now access the system whenever they want no matter where they are on campus, but these gains are difficult to quantify.

Innovation

At least in 2004 when this project was completed, Mount Allison's approach was different from other approaches because we opted to provide total coverage rather than hot-spots, we choose a cost-effective system that made use of existing infrastructure, and we controlled access.