April 1, 2021

COVID Dashboard graphic

The past year has been one of adversity, but the Division of Information Technology rose to the task and helped the university successfully meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing a Dashboard

The Division of IT developed Texas A&M’s COVID-19 dashboard to help university leaders track COVID cases and make crucial decisions regarding campus safety. The tool ingests data from multiple sources, including self reporting through Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) databases and Curative testing data from campus walkup locations and other sources. The dashboard has been visited over 350,000 times since its launch. 

Creating a Contact Tracing Center

In June, the Division of IT created a contact tracing center in partnership with the School of Public Health (SPH). Three large rooms of Clinical Building 1 were converted for use by approximately 50 staff members to call anyone who self reported a positive test result or symptoms and those with whom they made contact. The tracing center became vital when the Provost asked the SPH to begin random testing of the Texas A&M community.

Taking IT to the Cloud

The Division of IT developed the online system used by the Brazos County Community COVID-19 Vaccination Hub. The system serves many functions, including patient registration, appointment scheduling, on-site patient verification, and vaccine detail documentation. Using the Secure Technologies for Aggie Researchers (STAR) collection of cloud-based resources, the tool has supported over 50,000 vaccinations. Texas A&M University System members can also use the system for vaccination sites in their various communities. 

Answering the Call

In addition to its normal role of tech support, Help Desk Central became Texas A&M’s COVID-19 call center. In the first week of class cancellation (March 15), phone calls and emails to Help Desk Central tripled, and online chat requests more than doubled. To ensure quality support, more than 20 division employees took a crash course using the HDC issue tracking system and volunteered to take calls from home for three weeks.

Networking for Safety

To minimize exposure between pet owners and staff, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) established a drive-through area to provide triage, vaccinations and medication delivery. When the CVM needed a faster network connection, they contacted the Division of IT and asked if temporary outdoor Wi-Fi could be provided. In less than six hours, a full-service network was in place. Over 4,000 patients were served during the three months the network was in place.

Adding a Touch of Class

When the university announced the return of in-person classes for the fall, the Division of IT worked with university leaders to ensure social distancing by outfitting many non-traditional spaces for learning. This required the installation of Wi-Fi in meeting rooms, theaters, arenas and parking lots across campus. 

Ensuring Social Distancing

The Division of IT coordinated the installation of 15 “social distancing stations” across campus to provide safe, outdoor study spaces with Wi-Fi service. The tented areas will remain through the Spring 2021 semester.

The year 2020 will never be forgotten. Neither will the ways innovation, teamwork and dedication helped Texas A&M University emerge from the challenges with strength and poise for the future.