Updated University Network policy strips out tech specifications


The Senate’s Computing and Information Technology committee gave its approval to an updated University Network policy on Jan. 26 and looked ahead at the Computer Access and Use policy it will be taking up in the not too distant future.

The changes in the University Network policy were all subtractions instead of additions, according to Brian Hart, senior project manager for Pitt IT and chair of the policy committee.

“The idea behind the modification of this policy was to strip it of technical specifications for network services that are subject to change,” Hart said. This will give Pitt IT more flexibility to “change the network as needed to accommodate new standards and to take advantage of new technologies.”

“It was simply removing a lot of things that didn’t need to be in a policy-level document,” he said, noting that the current 10-page policy is now considerably shorter.

Hart said the intent of the policy has not changed: The University owns the network and responsibility for the network is with Pitt IT, which works with the University community to provide “network service that is high quality, where it is needed, both wireless and wired.”

The committee voted unanimously to endorse the policy, which will now be sent to Faculty Assembly.

Anthony Graham, senior policy specialist in the Office of Policy Development and Management, helped facilitate the committee’s work, and he said questions raised during the development process “helped inform some of the work that was going on in the Computer Access and Use Committee.”

That committee is looking at revising the current policy, which hasn’t been updated in several years, to provide updated standards and responsibilities for accessing and using the University’s IT services. It “is now out of date with best practices in the IT industry as well as higher education,” according to the policy committee’s charter.

Michael Spring, professor emeritus of computer sciences and former chair of the Senate Computing and Information Technology committee, sits on the access and use committee and said many of the questions people had about the University Network policy will be addressed in the Computer Access and Use policy.

“What that policy is going to do is thread the very fine issue of what happens when you’re using a personal device, like a cell phone you bought, to access a service that’s not a Pitt service. The simplest example would be Gmail. So the only thing that’s Pitt owned in that process is the PittNet you’re using from your personal phone to that external service.”

Hart, who also chairs the computer use committee, said that policy is nearly ready to move into the public comment stage and will come before the Senate computer committee at a later date.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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