UTS launches $100,000 Wi-Fi pilot project
The MSU is bringing back the #WheresTheWifi hashtag after partnering with UTS on a $100,000 Wi-Fi pilot project on campus.
New surveys on the MSU’s website and Facebook page were released Monday to gather feedback on which areas of campus are most in need of Wi-Fi.
Huzaifa Saeed, VP (Education), who sits on the Wi-Fi working group and is spearheading this year’s pilot project, says it’s an important step towards a larger-scale initiative.
The Wi-Fi working group consists of UTS, CLL, Library, Facility Services and the Registrar.
“I will be reporting to UTS later this week, and we will work out where we can spend the money,” said Saeed.
“I think it’s important for students to contribute, especially since Wi-Fi was such a big issue in the last [MSU] election,” he said.
In less than 24 hours, over 600 votes were casted on the MSU’s channels. So far, the Burke Science Building and Student Centre seem to be where most students have identified the greatest need for Wi-Fi.
The survey on the MSU’s website differs from the one on Facebook, providing a longer list of choices and asking for student satisfaction with Wi-Fi on campus.
Mukhtar Galan, current SRA representative (Engineering), ran with the slogan ‘Where’s the Wi-Fi?’ in his presidential campaign this past January.
Galan said he is very supportive of the pilot project and student poll.
“There are a lot of empty tables and study spaces on campus that can’t be used because there’s no Internet connection,” he said. “We have good space, we just need to optimize it.”
“I was surprised to hear from so many first-years last year that they couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi in some common rooms,” said Galan. “I think that’s a problem.”
However, the cost to expand Wi-Fi in residences is closer to $500,000, says Saeed, so it wouldn’t be feasible as part of the pilot project.
“After the project, [the MSU] will be submitting a multi-million dollar proposal to the University for Wi-Fi upgrades on campus,” Saeed said.
UTS’s website states that areas eligible for University funding are public gathering areas for students where there is seating or workspace. This includes lobbies, libraries and lounges.
‘Out of scope’ areas for Wi-Fi funding by UTS are classrooms, administrative areas, and faculty and staff offices. Wi-Fi improvements for these areas can be secured through departmental or project funding if available.
Discussions to improve Wi-Fi on campus, in addition to other technological services on campus, have been ongoing for years.
Last year, MSU President Matthew Dillon-Leitch and executives worked to get UnivMail undergraduate e-mail accounts migrated to Google.
The University’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) project was also announced last year. The purpose of the five-year project is to modernize and streamline McMaster’s outdated business processes.
The initiative entered the ‘fit-gap’ stage earlier this month. During this stage, members of the implementation team will examine how the selected PeopleSoft software fits McMaster’s business process needs, and where there are gaps.