March 2020 Tech Upload

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Coronavirus and Data

Coronavirus. By now we’re likely all sick of hearing about it in the news and at work. But if you aren’t thinking about the impacts, you should be. As global pandemics seem to be an annual occurrence, organizations need to be thinking about how to keep the lights on while reducing the spread of disease, and the IT department plays a critical role in ensuring business continuity. 

Business continuity and emergency preparedness should cover a broad range of risks, from fires, volcanoes, cyber attack, and more – and yes, even viral outbreaks. As a project manager at my former workplace, I had to build contingency plans for both the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 as well as the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010. Both hit the projects I was working on as we neared the training roll out which involved flying individuals in from other countries. In both cases, we were able to book video conference rooms as a Plan B, allowing the projects to move forward. With the travel restrictions being implemented in quarantined cities and regions around the world today, training and other gatherings would have to be done via webinar on the employee’s laptop.

If Northeast Wisconsin gets hit with covid-19, or the next epidemic, is your workforce able to work from home? Do you provide laptops for them to take home? Can they connect to the internet from their home? 

These questions may seem silly, but they are questions local school districts are asking of their students and employees. Districts and colleges are preparing to move to online delivery of classes in order to avoid disrupting student education. For some districts, like Oshkosh Area School District, this is fairly straightforward. They’ve been working strategically over the past several years to provide Chromebooks to all their students. Each student is issued a Chromebook during the first week of class as part of their 1:1 policy. With only 5% of the student body unable to access the internet from home, Oshkosh Area Schools has decided the online model will work. Other districts, like Sturgeon Bay, may not be able to leverage an online class model. Due to lack of broadband or even cellular access in much of the area, roughly 50% of their student body cannot access the internet at home. As a result, their 1:1 policy involves providing Chromebooks for students to use while on school grounds, but not at home.

As companies and organizations grapple with the connectivity issues, HR policies, and how to best handle production impacts, we find ourselves dusting off continuity of operations plans and updating them for the current threats. IT naturally plays an integral role in both providing virtual alternatives for physical activities as well as ensuring the IT systems themselves are adequately protected and up to the task. 

But the current crisis points to other important IT-related issues to consider. Data and the communication of it has become vitally important to many officials to communicate the severity of the situation. How many cases? Where are they? Who is most at risk? Etc. These are important questions that those with data analytics skills can help answer. As an example of how data is used, consider this interactive dashboard from Johns Hopkins, complete with a map and a Github site for the underlying data.

Data skills are also important for the population at large in interpreting the information made available. For example, as undeniably cool as the Johns Hopkins dashboard is, it omits important information such as the demographics of those affected. As it turns out, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to old people than it is to younger people. 

It may be difficult to get a handle on how seriously to take this situation – is it worse than the flu? Is everyone just panicking? But regardless, the advice to wash your hands with soap frequently is sound – it also helps prevent the spread of many other viruses. And don’t forget to wipe down your devices and keyboards – many viruses can stay alive on surfaces for hours. Here are some tips from Apple on how to clean your cell phone.

And of course, stop hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks!

Alliance News:

  • April 1: TechTalk at MPTC…Cyber Security w/ Dave Madson, Senior Security Engineer for the City of Oshkosh.
  • April 14: NEW CS Advisory board
  • April 30: Quarterly membership meeting

Regional News

New Graduate Degree Program Aims to Fill Major Cybersecurity Talent Gap

MADISON, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has granted its approval to offer a 12-course, 34-credit online master’s degree in cybersecurity. The program is a collaboration of University of Wisconsin Extended Campus and eight UW System campuses: UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW‑Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior.

The new online master’s degree features four unique tracks of study, allowing students to focus their education in one or more cybersecurity areas: Digital Forensics, Cyber Response, Governance & Leadership, and Security Architecture.

“There is an incredible talent gap in cybersecurity both in Wisconsin and around the globe,” said Aaron Brower, executive director of UW Extended Campus. “We believe this program meets market needs while offering students the skills and education employers want.”

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What is IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), and How Can Your Company Benefit?

Maybe you’ve had your IT equipment for a few years and it’s getting to be time for a refresh. Or, perhaps you’ve already replaced it, and the obsolete electronics are sitting in your storage closets. Either way, it can be hard to determine what to do with outdated assets, especially if they still work. You don’t want to throw them away, and you don’t want them to keep stacking up in your closets. Not to mention, there can be several hoops to jump through if you’re going to sell your IT equipment yourself—how do you get a fair price and make sure your data remains secure?  

That’s where IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) comes in. Sadoff E-Recycling and Data Destruction has put together a how-to guide for IT asset disposition for businesses. Check it out below to learn more about ITAD!

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Volunteers Needed for Microsoft Girls Event at Sheboygan Falls Middle School

Sheboygan Falls Middle School is hosting a Microsoft Girls event on March 17th, from 4-6pm. They are looking for female volunteers to work with girls in small groups on an activity. Ideally, they would like 10-12 volunteers. If you are interested, sign up using the link below!

Sign Up

WIT4Girls Workshop

We are excited to offer this opportunity for girls in grades 6-12 to learn more about careers in Computer Science, Coding and Programming. Volunteers from Microsoft, Amcor, and Plexus will be leading students through hands on activities.

This event will happen at South Park Middle School on Thursday, March 19 from 4-5:30 at 1551 Delaware St, Oshkosh, WI 54902. Enter Door 1. Register before March 12 using the link below!

Register Now

Are You Ready for a Digital Tomorrow?

Our lives, careers, and ability to compete as businesses is increasingly impacted by rapidly evolving technologies such as AI, Augmented Reality, Autonomous Driving, and many more.  We may have heard about these technologies, but few of us have actually seen them in action.  But there is good news!  On December 4th and 5th the KI Center in Green Bay will be home to first ever Digital Transformation Expo, an experiential learning showcase across technologies and industries.  Don’t just see a self driving car, take a tour in one.  Interact with AI, walk through an Augmented Reality experience, immerse yourself in various Virtual Realities, see the future of education, latest trends in industrial automation.  Experience 3D Scanning and Printing, 5G, the future of agriculture, drones, and maybe even a flying car.  

We will keep you informed about this event in future newsletters and as tickets go on sale.

Packers Hall of Famer, eSports Entrepreneur Named Lakeland eSports Coach

Ahman Green might be best known in Wisconsin for his Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers, but for eSports enthusiasts, he has also built quite a positive reputation.

Green, an eSports entrepreneur and longtime player, was named the first coach of Lakeland University’s new eSports program on February 5.

ESports are multiplayer video games played online competing against other NACE colleges across the country in both a fall and spring season. Lakeland’s team will compete in games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Paladins, Rocket League, Smite, Fortnite, CSGO and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Additional games will be added in the future based on student interest and additions made by NACE.

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How to Capitalize on Power BI's Latest Features Webinar

Looking to stay on top of the latest and greatest in Power BI?

The more you know how to use analysis tools like Power BI, the better you will be at using data to drive better business results.

In Skyline’s webinar, one of their data experts will take you through the new features in Power BI desktop’s most recent release and why they matter. Stick around afterward for a Q&A where they will answer any questions you have about Power BI. Save your spot using the link below!

Register Now

UWO College of Business awarded prestigious reaccreditation from AACSB

UW Oshkosh College of Business recently received re-accreditation by AACSB for another 5 years. AACSB is the premier accrediting body for business programs worldwide, and reflects the delivery of high-quality programs, including in Information Systems and Interactive Web Management – both of which are covered by the accreditation.

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NCWIT Wisconsin - Aspirations in Computing Awards on 5/3

Thank you to those in the NEW IT Alliance community who are supporting the collective efforts across the state to increase the number of women in computing and related disciplines.  The WI affiliate of the National Center for Women in IT (NCWIT-WI) will be honoring 98 aspiring female technologists (high school) and 2 outstanding K-12 educators (demonstrating a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion in computer science education) on May 3rd in Milwaukee.  We are in the final phases of planning and this is your last chance to secure a sponsorship for the event (with a deadline for ad copy by 3/31).  If you are interested, please feel free to reach out to on the NCWIT-WI Board for more information.  Here are a few details about the event:

  • Keynote: Janet Schalk, EVP and CIO of Direct Supply
  • Panel:  Focused on prior winners and their work with Aspire IT K12 workshops (peer mentoring)
  • Academic Alliance Fair:  Featuring 14 higher education partners from across the state
  • Attendance:  Projected at 400, by invite only
  • Venue:  MSOE Kern Center, Milwaukee
  • Networking:  Occurs before and after the ceremony with light refreshments. Includes industry mentors at every table to talk with girls and their influencers.