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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IMPACT 2020-2021 Annual Report

Introduction

Imagine your daily life with the University of Ottawa. Consider how your day is affected by technology. Think about how drastically digital experiences have changed.

Over the last year, Information Technology has delivered technologies that work for you. We innovated to enrich our community’s user experience. We partnered with you to build the university of tomorrow.

We tackled challenges that were previously unimaginable. We supported new ways or working, learning and discovering. The entire uOttawa community made the shift from in-person to a screen in a matter of days. Whether you:

  • used Microsoft Teams to keep in touch with your colleagues;
  • attended a President’s townhall that was completely virtual; or
  • participated in a class hosted on Teams or Zoom
Information Technology team

Information Technology solutions were part of your digital experience.

Your adoption of technology has enabled the introduction of tools and processes. These solutions are keeping us in touch and thriving in our new online environment.

Message from the CIO

The last couple of years have been significant in terms of challenges, opportunities and change. Digital transformation has occurred. It’s still taking place today.

Information Technology has been influential in delivering well-thought, strategic IT leadership to support institutional priorities.

“Better and Stronger Men as Allies" panel discussion with CIO Martin Bernier hosted by uOttawa Women in Innovation

We don’t do this work alone. Now, more than ever, we are collaborators, supporters, and enablers. Across the University, we have united on organizational priorities to build a collective vision for the future.

I’m proud of the work the Information Technology community does to enable these transitions. This report compiles just some of our achievements in building our university of tomorrow.

New ways of operating: How we responded to the global pandemic

A global pandemic was new territory for all of us. We had to pivot quickly to ensure stability and business continuity. Our partners reached out to collaborate with us and realize new ways of working. Together, we quickly developed solutions and increased computing capacity to support the community online and in-person.

Most of us weren’t able to return to campus in 2020. But we proactively addressed the threat of COVID-19 for those who needed to be on campus. Through our COVID-19 Daily Assessment tool, we monitor campus attendance to look at trends and plan for the future. On-campus COVID-19 assessments that can be booked online and tracked with an electronic medical record system, make it easy for our community to access testing and results.

We know the importance of physical distancing in limiting the spread. For students, an online queue management and booking platform eliminates long waits on campus. Employees working on campus, can use a resource booking tool for management and scheduling of shared spaces and resources.

These are just some of the new services and resources that ensure the health, safety and wellness of our university community.

“The joy of working with meaningful purpose illuminates innovation that can lead to transformation. It all starts with people who make things happen.”

– Jacques Frémont, President and Vice-Chancellor

Growth of Microsoft Teams usage

Number of active users has more than tripled since last year

Building the university of tomorrow: the Digital Campus Transformation Plan

You’ve done it. You’ve inspired us. We evolved overnight. It was a huge shift that set the tone for how we wanted to position ourselves for the future. We were empowered to advance a technological vision and strategy that defined how tomorrow’s ambitions would be realized.

Your adoption of technology reinforced a key idea: You are at the heart of this strategy. We held University-wide consultations with students, faculty and staff. These conversations resulted in the Digital Campus Transformation Plan.

Digital Campus Transformation Plan consultations

We are innovating for tomorrow. Our plan outlines meaningful change and growth for the next five years. The future looks bright. Chatbots will bring the web to life and smart building will allow us to work more efficiently. The possibilities are limitless!

“In March, we had to transform all of our courses to online and distance formats in a very short amount of time. That brought us a lot closer to our Transformation 2030 goal of becoming a more digital university.”

- Jill Scott, Provost and Vice-President, Academic

More agile: Ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow

What’s your next step in your studies, research or work? We’re in a period of constant change. More agile means we’re ready to seize tomorrow’s opportunities.

Sometimes we use existing solutions, like the professor who leveraged Microsoft Teams to stay connected. Sometimes we implement new ideas. This mindset has facilitated the delivery of technology projects. Innovation is delivered in a matter of weeks versus months.

An open-minded environment fosters trust with employees and facilitates change. Whether through inclusivity and allyship or improving interpersonal communications. We want people to know their ideas and contributions are valued.

Being agile and delivering meaningful change relies on partnerships and collaborations. We partner with leaders across the organization on projects that will modernize administrative services and initiatives that offer University-wide benefits. Our partnership with ORION and CANARIE is just one example of how we fostered strategic industry partnerships to develop our research infrastructure.

Agile implementations: # of weeks to deliver on IT initiatives

“This [point of presence] is a great example of collaboration. We’re pleased to work with the University of Ottawa as well as our national research and education partners to improve network performance for our connected institutions. The pandemic has made it clear that we are becoming even more reliant on robust digital infrastructure.”

- David Smith, Chief Technology Officer at ORION

More connected: Increasing engagement in innovative ways

You are at the heart of digital transformation. So, how do we deliver person-centric resources to you? We increase connections – with you, technology and the world.

Our community is connecting to uOttawa from over 170 countries

We position ourselves to listen, innovate solutions and drive positive change. Our online environment makes it easier than ever to connect, share and collaborate in new ways. The transformation of uOttawa.ca will make it a more powerful platform to share relevant and purposeful information.

We also worked with students, academics and staff to gather insights and understand needs across the community. The result: new tools and resources that help the University connect to you and the world around us. You might be a prospective student looking for dynamic campus tours from afar. Maybe you are a current student looking for online wellness and academic resources or to attend a virtual career fair. We want you to feel engaged with the University on the platforms that are right for you.

Easy Virtual Fair platform

The development of our enterprise architecture practice ensures the organization is aligned to deliver on IT investments like these and more that connect us whether we are online or on campus.

“Digital transformation is a fundamental aspect in shaping and supporting a meaningful university experience for students, faculty and staff.”

- Liam Peyton, Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies at the Faculty of Engineering

More impactful: Seizing the best opportunities

We want you want to emerge stronger than before. When technology solutions are available and easy to use, they can positively impact your activities.

Our partnership with CANARIE to introduce research software development experts supports researcher innovation. This initiative will boost high-impact research and partnerships. It is already strengthening our research support community. And we’re just getting started.

We're being thoughtful in our planning so we can deliver broader change. Multi-year solution-oriented roadmaps will allow us to meet University aspirations. Prioritized initiatives will pave the way for new services and tools. By using these resources and taking an active role, you accelerate the implementation of technologies that deliver impact.

Community impact of IT projects (by audience)

“We thirst for discoveries that impact the world we live in. Technology contributes to make that happen at a faster pace.”

– Sylvain Charbonneau, Vice-president, Research

More sustainable: Planning for the future

We have an important role in defining the technological landscape. Part of this is ensuring IT solutions can be used successfully for a long time. Another part is contributing to a clean and healthy environment.

To achieve these ambitions, we set long-term goals. When we are strategic and improving performance, we lessen our impact on the environment. We need high-performing infrastructure that can grow with the University. Making the University a key location for connectivity improves the speed and delivery of internet-based services.

We also extend the life of information technology through a comprehensive security program. Revised security policies provide the framework to improve our security posture. It is bolstered by initiatives like mandatory multi-factor authentication (MFA) which protects employee accounts, information and networks from potentially debilitating cyberattacks. When our activities are mostly done online, IT security is critical for continued access to University resources.

Sustainability is a collective goal. Together we can set the action plans and best practices towards making a difference.

“Technology enabled research and learning is a game-changer for many scholars and students. Responding to rapid change with innovative IT solutions, while balancing sustainable and long-term approaches is essential to the success of our institution.”

– Talia Chung, University librarian and Vice-provost (knowledge systems)

Our people, our most important resource