MLK Library’s WiFi 6 Upgrade

A student using a laptop in MLK overlooking downtown SJ

SJSU IT has installed 125 of the latest WiFi 6 Access Points in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, thanks to the support of President Papazian. One of the biggest benefits of WiFi 6 is how it excels at managing many simultaneous connections. This will ensure that library visitors and all of their devices have a reliable, fast connection to our secure campus network. Looking forward, this upgrade will enable future technology strategies in IoT and smart facilities. 

The push to install WiFi 6 around campus is already paying off. Comparing data from the first day of Fall 2019 to the first day of Fall 2021, there was a 69% increase in WiFi traffic in the MLK Library — a big jump! As we look toward a more hybrid future, these usage and traffic trends will only continue. 

I want to be sure to thank Marco Rodriguez, Tino Cruz, Mark Tran, and Trevor Florez for their work on this project.

Our efforts to upgrade more of the campus to the new WiFi 6 standard is an excellent example of how we’re implementing solutions to address today’s problems that also build for the future. Ensuring that our university has a reliable, fast, campus-wide network is a foundational step in our long-term strategy for achieving the vision of Transformation 2030. 

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

Taking WiFi 6 Outdoors

A map showing the areas on campus that will receive outdoor WiFi

Thanks to the support of President Papazian, we’ve blanketed the majority of campus’ outdoor spaces with WiFi 6 connectivity. This is something we’ve received lots of feedback about from our faculty and students when talking about a return to campus. With these upgrades, new areas have been opened up for students to study and work while staying safely distanced from others and for more instructors to have the option to teach outside. SJSU is the first university in higher education to deploy Cisco’s WiFi 6 access points. 

Based on early data from the start of the Fall 2021 semester, this effort is already paying off for campus. Comparing pre-pandemic data from the first day of Fall 2019 with the first day of Fall 2021, we see big jumps in utilization. The number of devices connected to SJSU’s WiFi network went from 17,893 to 24,033, a 34% increase. That’s part of why it was so important to install WiFi 6 access points, which excel at managing multiple simultaneous connections. 

The jump in traffic on our Outdoor WiFi network was even bigger — a 108% increase, from 1.2GB of data on August 21, 2019, to 2.5GB on August 19, 2021. For reference, one gigabyte is equivalent to 10 hours of streaming 4k video. In past years, this kind of traffic would have strained the older WiFi access points, leading to congestion, slowdowns, and drops. As we move toward a more hybrid future, this kind of internet bandwidth consumption will only continue to go up.

Thanks go to Roger Gonzales, Shai Silberman, Tino Cruz, Trevor Florez, and Mark Tran, as well as Jay Kuncl from FD&O, who worked to get this ready for our campus.

The Outdoor WiFi initiative is an excellent example of how we’re implementing solutions to address today’s problems that also build for the future. Ensuring that our university has a reliable, fast, campus-wide network is a foundational step in our long-term strategy for achieving the vision of Transformation 2030. 

When we look at the list of campus technology initiatives we’re working on for Transformation 2030 — integrated cameras, entry sensors, IoT devices — almost everything requires an always-on connection. We have to provide our university with a wireless network that’s stable and reliable enough to support those systems in addition to the needs of our students and faculty.

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

Proactive Health Checks

The Economics Computer Lab

To prepare campus’ repopulation, the SJSU IT customer support team performed proactive support on hundreds of technology-enabled spaces across campus. Some of the rooms had not been used since March 2020, and we wanted to be sure that the technology our campus needed was ready to go from day one of Fall 2021. For our Proactive Health Checks, SJSU IT technicians went to each SJSU IT-support room to test technology solutions and resolve issues before they became problems. We also performed proactive checks to verify the function of our campus network. 

Classrooms

Before the start of the semester, SJSU IT support staff proactively identified and resolved 76 classroom-related items in SJSU IT-supported classrooms, including replacing missing cables and addressing audio/visual challenges.  We are now performing Proactive Health Checks on a weekly basis for technology setups in all SJSU IT-supported classrooms. 

Thanks go to the entire Instructional & Meeting Spaces (IMS) Team: Daniela Zopiyatle, Cameron Myers, Fred Asuncion, Rod Maciel, Andy Yeung, Frank De Fanti, Phil Braverman, Danny Vo, Bruce Kelbert, Devona Williams, and Darlene Bargas.

Conference Rooms

We also checked each SJSU IT-supported conference room to ensure that physical hardware and virtual technology are working properly. We found minimal issues during the health checks performed before the start of the semester, all of which were fixed. This proactive support will be done monthly going forward. 

Many in our Customer Service unit, including Lor Vang, Lucas Chung, Belinda Nguyen, Chris Bradford, Matt Loo, Raymond Koc, Kirk Nguyen, April Lee, Bruce Gardner, and Jason Ferguson, flawlessly came together to support this important initiative. 

Network, WiFi, Printers, & Telephones 

Our network infrastructure and phone teams performed thorough reviews of university hardware and fixed issues before they became problems, ensuring reliable and prompt connectivity. Before the start of Fall 2021, these teams have:

  • Ensured critical components like WiFi, phones, and printers work properly by validating the connectivity of over 22,000 network ports.
  • Performed health checks on 323 network connectors to ensure all ports in classrooms and conference rooms are operational.
  • Eliminated potential WiFi dead spots by validating the indoor coverage of over 3,100 access points.
  • Validated that 3,700 phones are operational and ready.
  • Helped eliminate potential login problems for faculty and staff by setting the authentication servers. 

System checks require a lot of work, so I want to thank Sean Davis, Tristian Anthony, Toby Shaw, Brent Jones, Tino Cruz, Trevor Florez, Mark Trann, Shai Silberman, and Atul Pala.

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

Better Live Chat and Chatbot for SJSU

A sample chatbot interactionWe’ve rolled out a new, enterprise-grade live chat and 24/7 chatbot solution for SJSU. With Enterprise Chat, conversations transfer between departments without losing information. Folks using online chat no longer need to re-explain their problem or retell their story every time a new department needs to be brought in. This is a huge win for customer service and completely eliminates one of the most frustrating things about trying to get help online. We started with an early rollout to 8 of the university’s busiest departments, with 7 more ready by the end of October 2021. The 24/7 chatbot gathers information, provides solutions for many common problems, and requests live help when it can’t. By handling the little stuff, the chatbot frees up departments to work on the big stuff. It comes with AI capabilities, using machine learning to identify commonly-asked questions from historical chats and proposes adding questions and answers for inquiries that come up often.  You can find our support page for the Enterprise Chat on the SJSU IT website.

Providing good support and excelling at customer service is a foundation of SJSU IT’s long-term strategy. In IT, we have to continually build trust, not only that the new tools and new resources we implement work, but that we’re there to help you when they don’t. That trust builds and extends into our relationships as we work across campus to digitize and automate processes, find more efficient ways to use technology, and partner with other departments on new initiatives. 

I want to thank Ravi Pisupati and Sree Gandikota for their help getting this ready for campus.

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

Moving Large Events Online

One person working in SU Ballroom

As we prepared for a gradual return to campus, we looked at how technology could support campus life and student success outside the classroom. SJSU IT has deployed  a virtual event platform to enable larger gatherings online — things like alumni events, benefits fairs, conferences, career fairs, orientation events, open houses, and even courses with live presentations. These kinds of events create a richer college experience for students, drive engagement, and create opportunities. It was important to carry that experience into the hybrid future. The first event held with this new platform will be University Personnel’s Benefits Open Enrollment event in October 2021. You can visit the support page for our Virtual Event Platform on the SJSU IT website.

This kind of platform isn’t useful only for the short term — it supports our strategy of making our university mobile-enabled, with students able to access services when they need them from wherever they are. That kind of flexibility needs to exist for the entire college experience. 

As we return to campus, a hybrid approach to these kinds of events will ease the strain on campus facilities that were overflowed or overbooked pre-pandemic. For example, students who live far away could attend mandatory campus events without having to pay for travel and career fairs can host even more employers with remote sessions. 

Thanks go to Leon Nguyen, Sree Gandikota, and Ravi Alladi working to get this ready this semester.

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University