Planning for potential influenza pandemic - updated November 2013

The University of Waterloo has prepared a Preliminary Response to a Potential Influenza Pandemic (PDF). This reports states:

The University of Waterloo has a history of preparing for potentially difficult situations to ensure that proper care is afforded to its faculty, staff and students. Information disseminated by the World Health Organization, the federal and provincial governments and the Waterloo Region Public Health Unit indicate that the threat of an influenza pandemic is considerable and these organizations are recommending that institutions prepare accordingly. What follows is the University of Waterloo’s plan which, as much as possible, provides guidance on how the University will cope in the event a pandemic arrives, recognizing that there will be many unknown factors.

This response outlines the various plans of Academic and Academic-support groups within the University. While preliminary versions of IST's plan are included in the University's Response, the following is a current description of IST's plan for a potential influenza pandemic.

IST - Overall strategy

Usual tasks prioritized, completed as appropriate and feasible. Key tasks can be completed by individuals working from home. Main responsibilities are continuance of connectivity, networks and infrastructure services including telephone, Human Resources (HR) payroll, LEARN, Quest, WatIAM, etc.

Technology integrated services (TIS)

  1. Services to continue:
    • All services that provide external connectivity to the campus. It will be crucial to permit people who are physically able to work to do so from home, foregoing the need to gather in large groups.
    • All electronic communication methods, including telephone, email, Internet, etc.
    • All IST maintained campus computing servers could be kept operational, even by a significantly reduced staff component. This will provide considerable campus infrastructure services as well as departmental information systems.
    • Responding to server hardware and software failures as well as diagnosing and repairing the failure.
    • The telephone system:
      • the PBX, voicemail
      • voice-recognition "switchboard" services and possibly remote switchboard operators
    • The IP network:
    • the core, aggregation, and edge routers and switches
    • the DNS and DHCP services 
    • the security appliances
  1. Services to safely suspend
    • Planning for and implementing new services or upgrades to existing services in various support and client areas takes a lot of staff time.
    • Printer, workstation and monitor repairs will need to be reduced, limited only to high priority cases.
  2. General
    • For any given component, there are a small number of “experts”; the number varies from 1 to 3. We are told that, at any given time, as many as 30 employees in IST will be too sick to work, and that this condition could persist for several months, therefore we cannot expect that an “expert” will always be available to deal with a particular crisis.
    • We believe that the best way to increase our odds is to ensure that all IST staff required to interact with any of the above can do so remotely.
    • We propose that IST plan to suspend all services that require on-site activity, such as new deployments, and moves, adds and changes of user devices (phones, computers, etc), and plan for a small cadre of safely-equipped staff who can be here when needed to "push the on/off button" on equipment.

Information Security Services

  1. Services to continue
    • Security scans to detect abnormalities and problem devices on the campus network. The scans and disabling of problem devices are required to keep the network operational.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • The variety of post mortem investigations of security incidents will likely need to be reduced, limiting continuation of service options for some situations. The problem device may simply be required to be removed from the campus network until a much later date.

Administrative support (AS)

  1. Services to continue
    • Essential equipment acquisitions
    • Software Acquisition/distribution:
      • Software distribution codes to other universities.
      • Expiry codes on some software products and renewal agreements may require attention but are backed up by two other staff. (Most renewal agreements are negotiated during March and April.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Billings and charge-outs, most vendor payments, and most equipment acquisitions.

Instructional technologies and multimedia services (ITMS)

  1. Services to continue
    • Support of LEARN (hosted by Desire2Learn):
      • Rely upon Lorne Connell and Sean Warren for Desire2Learn (LEARN) integrations, including fo roster population,.
      • Jan Willwerth leads our user technical support. As long as the service is available, most professors can deal with day-to-day operations, barring significant tech issues.
    • Maintaining e-classroom services (computers in podiums, data projectors loans, etc.). Reliance will be on the six e-classroom technical support staff for maintaining ~114 rooms.
    • Video conferencing and web conferencing (where a course repies upon these technologies for delivery). Rely upon Koorus Bookan to maintain these services.
    • Studio facility for any essential communications (e.g., “double-ender”).
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • LEARN planned changes, etc., unless deemed required to keep the hosted service going.
    • If technical staff are overextended, there will be a postponement of new classroom installations or significant E-classroom upgrades.
    • Video conferencing and web conferencing (except where a course relies upon these technologies).
    • Audio visual and other equipment loans.
    • Studio for recordings that can be rebooked.

Client services (CS)

With the outbreak of a pandemic, Client Services would continue to provide essential services but would do so in a way that would minimize exposure.

  1. Services to continue
    • Providing technical support for those areas of the University whose work is essential and support is required for them to fulfill their responsibilities. (e.g., troubleshooting, repairing, and replacing computing equipment that was essential to the ongoing operations of the University).
    • Waterloo Content Management System (WCMS)
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Training (e.g., Skills for the Electronic Workplace courses)
    • Software distribution (CHIP)
    • Drop in service desks (CHIP, Residence, Davis Centre)
    • Non-essential support
  1. Other considerations
    • We would attempt to minimize exposure by providing electronic support, either by staff working from home or their office.

Enterprise systems (ES)

  1. Services to continue
    • All major applications that we support will need to remain functional (Human Resources, OGF, Student Accounts, and Co-operative Education & Career Action). This means that we will need at least basic support for production related activities within ALL levels of the technology stack (application layer, database layer, OS layer, hardware layer, network layer).
    • In addition, each area will need to have access to expertise and authority within each functional unit ( Human Resources , Registrar, Co-operative Education & Career Action, and Finance) -as keeping the system alive is of no value without the expertise that resides in relatively few people in those departments.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • All non-essential work (patches, upgrades, improvements, etc.) would be delayed or cancelled. Support for non-essential applications could be stopped entirely including but not limited to production support (e.g., salary admin, pension admin, fixed assets, etc. may be viewed as non-essential). This would reduce demands significantly BUT would still require at least one staff member be available for each application at each level of the technical stack.
    • This does not address the implications for major applications managed outside of our domain, (e.g., Watcard - required for many services on campus including meals, Library, Housing, etc.). It is assumed that these departments will have their own plans and support strategies for systems support.
  3. Other considerations
    • Cross-training between – not just from within - layers of technology should be considered (e.g., database and applications administrators).
    • Remote support requirements need to be assessed as some production support may be done remotely given appropriate off-campus access privileges and capabilities (e.g., some servers can only be accessed on-campus; remote desktop capabilities may need to be set; high-speed Internet services are not widely used but would be required; workstations beyond the basic home needs might be needed for key individuals).

Human resources management system (HRMS)

  1. Services to continue
    • Human Resources support for the payroll affected transactions.
    • Payroll support (most needed during calendar year end processing).
    • Cognos support for payroll related reporting.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Application of tax updates, for a limited period. Tax rate changes may be implemented without applying a tax update.
    • Development and Fixes, again, for a limited period depending on requirements (e.g., critical de-bugging).
    • Budgets & Encumbrances: changes could be delayed for a time, with the exception of supporting budget rollover functionality (budget transfers/loads from old year into new).
    • BenPlus: changes could be delayed or stalled.

SISP

  1. Services to continue
    • Quest (PS Student Administration system) is essential to the university (if open).
    • Cognos statistical analysis cubes (like APPSTAT) are critical during specific time periods in the application cycle (especially as we get near the end of the admission offer periods). During other times, it may be more flexible / less essential.
    • Depending on the timing within any given term, AdAstra (room assignment for course / class scheduling) and EXAMINE (examination scheduling) may also be essential to support academic activities, though examinations may be delayed or cancelled during a pandemic.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Ongoing software upgrades, data fixes, and/or development may be significantly reduced or delayed.
    • Cognos reporting for SA could be stopped.
    • The enrolment statistical analysis cubes (ENRLSTAT) are not critical.
    • Academic Calendar Maintenance could be suspended as it is long term in nature.

JobMine

  1. Services to continue
    • Basic job posting and application capabilities in JobMine, core interview scheduling, match cycle, etc.
    • Supplementary systems (Career Services, etc.).
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Paging systems, adhoc reporting, and match changes.
    • New functionality for decision support, mobile computing, resumes and documents, etc.

Co-operative education & Career action (CECA)

The new CECA system is not expected to go live before May 2010. In the event of a pandemic we have organized the development team to work on and off-line from home by employing the following principles;

  • Use of a server based team collaboration tool – allowing for remote, work from home – document libraries, newsfeeds, announcements, discussion forums, etc.
  • Servers and tools in the final development, pre-production, and production environments support remote-desk-top interfacing and remote restart.
  • The development suite is also server based with builds and deployment of the systems into a test or production target.
  • All development is laptop based, integrated with the test environment. Most, if not all, laptops are carried home each day by the staff.
  • Checkpoint firewall VPN for development – allowing for remote access into secured development environment.
  • Remote command and control systems to support 7x24 operations and monitoring through auto detection and self healing without human intervention.
  1. Services to continue
    • Ongoing application development of new CECA system through remote access or off line means,
    • Availability of Servers, VMs and machines operating in IST and CECA used in the development effort.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • It is assumed that staff would be notified via the normal UW process. The pandemic plan will need to be updated to reflect a fully operational system in 2010.

Alumni/Development

  1. Services to continue
    • Basic maintenance in RaisersEdge, donations and gifts.
    • Current functionality and availability in BBNC.
    • CampusCall call center.
    • Remote access via RE:Anywhere
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • In a severe situation, we may not require the call center, just the shell for BBNC.
    • Reporting for other campus units and adhoc reporting in general.
    • Implementation of Business Intelligence suite.

Distance education

Most of the requirements below are covered in the inter-departmental documentation:

  • Instructional (by the IST Instructional Services section).
  • Registrarial (by SISP, most undertaken by Registrar's Office (RO) now).

Institutional analysis & Planning (IAP)

  1. Services to continue
    • PS technical stack and processes for government reporting (e.g., count date).
    • Data warehouse support (e.g., faculty salary management).
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Depending on the government claim and related support needs in a crisis, much of the overall technical support would be closed (requires review).

ID management

  1. Services to continue
    • WatIAM would need to remain available, with appropriate interfaces and some manual updates as are usually required.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Phase II implementation could be suspended.

Library

  1. Services to continue
    • Most core services may be required, (e.g., Voyager software, e-journal access, circulation services, electronic databases - some of these are outside IST).
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • At a bare minimum, we could operate with the backup Trellis catalogue and minimal availability of key electronic resources.

Oracle financials

  1. Services to continue
    • Unless advised otherwise by functional department management, we will assume that all existing functionality provided by the Oracle Financials applications and FORE will be required.
    • Critical security patches, fixes affecting system integrity, and legislated changes.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • System enhancements and optional fixes.

Departmental and other campus systems

It is anticipated that many or most of these applications would not be considered essential during a pandemic. This, however, would depend on the services that would be offered by those functional areas.

  1. Services to continue
    • Possible candidates would include Health Services, Food Services.
  2. Services to safely suspend
    • Athletics, Space Management, etc.