Technology’s Role in Returning to Campus: The University of South Florida COVID-19 Journey

As the COVID crisis continues, major colleges and universities are betting on automation to make the back-to-school push a success. This blog previews a thought-provoking webinar that explores how low-code automation can help us safely get back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The webinar, which was hosted by Inside Higher Ed and sponsored by Appian, features remarkable use-case commentary from the University of South Florida’s (USF) Dean of  the College of Public Health and COVID-19 Task Force Chair, CIO, and Senior Director of Transformation & Innovation.

The University of South Florida (USF), a preeminent state university with 50,000+ students, decided to leverage Appian CampusPass™ technology to coordinate the complex return-to-campus process and manages on-going health and safety concerns while protecting sensitive health information.

“We have three campuses at USF,” said Dr. Donna Petersen, Dean of College of Public Health and COVID-19 Task Force Chair.  “We are trying to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage in the behaviors that we know will help us reduce the spread of COVID-19. We want to bring our students and faculty and staff back…We want the university to fill its place in our community, but we’ve got to do it in a way that respects the virus and protects the health and safety of all of our constituents.”

3 Keys to Returning to Campus Safely with Technology

In the webinar: Technology’s Role in Returning to Campus Safely: The University of South Florida’s COVID-19 journey, USF officials shared the playbook for safely returning to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a snapshot of the top three takeaways:

1. Take a Holistic Approach

A poll conducted during the well attended webinar revealed that schools are roughly equally concerned with five key components to returning to campus safely: health screening, return authorization, contact tracing, isolation processing, and virus testing.

Manually compiling this information from fragmented systems and spreadsheets complicates the return-to-campus process. Better to centralize and automate data in an integrated holistic solution that ensures on-campus safety.

2. Focus on Agility and Flexibility

Because our understanding of COVID-19 changes constantly, fluid processes and protocols are essential.

USF’s Vice President of Technology and CIO Sidney Fernandes, noted “I would say technological flexibility and agility are key to any solution…”

Long story short, educational institutions need to rapidly respond to change with easy configuration that doesn’t overload already strained IT resources.

“If you look at [Appian] CampusPass, one of the benefits is its pre-built solutions,” says Alice Wei, Senior Director of Transformation & Innovation at USF, “So, you don’t have to worry about scrambling to build it yourself.”

3. Prioritize Security and Safety

USF prioritizes data security for sensitive healthcare data. CampusPass runs on a HIPPA-compliant and HITRUST certified secure cloud and enables FERPA and GDPR compliance.

“When you are a CIO,” says Sidney Fernandes, USF’s Vice President of Technology and CIO, “the first thing you think about is the protection of data and that’s why a platform approach is critical.”

If you missed the webinar, you can listen to the on-demand playback here.  If you’d like to learn more about how CampusPass can help your school, visit the webpage.

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