Spotlight: The OIT Humanities Resource Center (HRC)
The OIT Humanities Resource Center (HRC), located in the lower level of East Pyne, provides IT resources, facilities, and support for teaching and research, primarily in the Humanities. The HRC assists faculty in incorporating technology and video into their courses and provides students with specialized equipment for viewing foreign language videos, as well as software for multi-lingual word processing and independent language study.
The HRC houses a 20-station computer lab, a viewing room, and a smart classroom. Lab workstations are equipped with special features to support humanities study, such as multi-language spell-checking software, international satellite television access, and language-learning software. The viewing room provides audio/video recording and editing equipment, as well as software for video transcoding and the creation of video clips. The smart classroom provides a 12-computer workstation facility that is used by faculty for foreign-language classes requiring specialized software or foreign-language videos.
Working closely with the Princeton University Libraries, the HRC manages the circulation of approximately 10,000 videos held in the University’s video collection. HRC lab computers are equipped with specialized equipment for viewing international video formats and media. Similar facilities are provided in the HRC viewing room, which is used for collaborative study and group viewing of films. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the HRC circulated 5,862 video items.
The HRC also provides a video-on-demand service. Video materials owned by the University and placed on reserve by faculty for their coursework are digitized and streamed to course participants through Blackboard, the University’s course management system. In 2010, more than 400 courses took advantage of this service, streaming 3,118 videos and full-length films. The use of on-demand video gives students the ability to watch videos 24/7 using a standard computer. In addition, since most faculty use computers for other aspects of class presentation, the video reserve service simplifies the task of incorporating rich media into the classroom and learning experience.
The HRC has also assisted in the creation of several historic video archives. Working with the Graphic Arts Collection at the Princeton University Library, the HRC helped transcode and archive “The Pathé Baby Film Collection,” approximately 1,000 French silent films from the 1920’s. The HRC also worked with the Department of German to develop “The Alexander Kluge Research Collection: Kluge’s writings and films,” as well as many works of secondary scholarship and criticism about Kluge, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, novelist, and social theorist in the late 20th century.
One of the most popular and versatile tools for developing online teaching materials at Princeton is the “Princeton Blogging Service,” a blogging tool co-administered by the HRC and OIT’s Web Development Services group. The HRC works with faculty to develop blogs particularly suited to their courses. In a recent journalism course, for example, students wrote on topics of sustainability on campus and decided to publish their writings on a blog. With help from the HRC, the class developed a blog that displayed the articles written by the students along with a map of campus onto which students could pinpoint the location of their stories. This gave readers of the blog a way to visually navigate the stories produced by the class.
The HRC also provides consultation services for faculty engaged in research projects in the Humanities. This past year, the HRC supported a variety of such projects. For example, the Princeton Geniza Project, led by Professor Mark Cohen in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, provides an online, searchable archive of approximately 5,000 transcriptions of the Cairo Geniza, a collection of manuscript fragments held at over 25 libraries around the world. The HRC has also been working with Silvia Stoyanova, an instructor in the French and Italian department, to create a hypertext version of Zibaldone di pensieri, the notebooks of Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi. When complete, the archive will consist of the hyperlinked text of 4,526 manuscript pages and visualizations of the manuscript in the form of network maps, giving scholars a unique and meaningful way to work with this very complex document.
IT Governance at Princeton
Princeton’s IT governance model is designed to foster thoughtful, inclusive decision-making on IT investments and to optimize those investments across the campus, where appropriate. This is of growing importance since IT projects that span multiple departments make up an increasing portion of Princeton’s IT project slate. How do we support departmental IT initiatives while identifying synergies across the University?
At the start of each calendar year, the Chief Information Officer initiates a call for IT projects for the coming fiscal year from Princeton’s academic departments and administrative offices. Each project proposal is sponsored by a senior manager within the University to ensure that department requests reflect the priorities and direction of their unit. These requests are electronically submitted to OIT. This year there were over one hundred projects requested in categories such as website development, application planning and assessment, and major systems implementations.
OIT works with the project managers for each proposal to further refine the project requests with details regarding time frames and the amount and type of technical resources required. Based on these requests, OIT then proposes any infrastructure projects needed to support the collective customer requests. A comprehensive project slate is then assembled in draft form, indicating how many of the requests can be accommodated with existing IT resources. This slate is reviewed, modified, and endorsed by several campus-wide committees before being presented to Princeton’s senior leadership for approval.
As a result of this planning process, each department becomes aware of the key IT initiatives of other departments. Often these initiatives will have downstream effects across campus, and this process allows these interdependencies to be identified earlier. Also, valuable IT projects that facilitate cost savings and efficiencies can be promoted and adopted by other departments on campus, as appropriate. As an example, the Office of Finance & Treasury purchased “OnBase,” a document imaging system, to digitize vendor invoices, thereby reducing physical storage space and improving access to information. This system was later converted to a campus-wide service, supported centrally by OIT, and has since been used by the Office of Development, the University Library, the Department of Facilities, and the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid for various paperless initiatives. It is now the cornerstone for a variety of electronic document management and workflow projects across campus looking to reduce printing and archiving costs and improve efficiencies.
In addition to a holistic IT governance model and planning process, Princeton has created an effective, online tool for managing the IT project slate. This year, Princeton developed and began using the Interdepartmental Project Portfolio (IPP), an electronic system that enables both customers and OIT to submit, modify, and track projects throughout the year. During the coming year, OIT will continue refining the IPP system to include “dashboard” views for project sponsors.
iPrinceton mobile applications
In December 2010, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) launched iPrinceton, a free application that brings information about Princeton campus life, as well as teaching and learning resources, to the mobile devices of the Princeton community and beyond.
In its first release, iPrinceton includes a suite of ten interactive modules. These include a student, faculty, and staff directory, Princeton athletics news and game schedules, a University events calendar, a course catalog, a campus map, University news, videos and images, a library catalog, and Princeton's iTunes U site.
Visitors to campus will find the interactive campus map and campus directory modules particularly helpful. The map module provides a detailed campus map with street and building names. The directory module provides mobile access to a complete listing of University students, faculty, and staff, along with public contact information.
For those who want to keep up with current Princeton news and events, the news module provides top news, feature stories, and featured events from the University's home page.
The course module lists all course offerings for the current semester. Each course listing includes a detailed course description, the days on which it is held, the instructors for the course, and the location where the course is held.
The athletics module highlights the University’s varsity sports teams. For each sport, users can view the latest news on a particular team and the current season's schedule and scores.
The videos module launches Princeton's YouTube web page, where users can watch a variety of media, including student- and faculty-produced videos, as well as videos of University events such as Reunions and Commencement. The images module showcases images of Princeton’s campus and special Princeton events.
iPrinceton is free of charge, but must be downloaded from device-specific ‘stores.’ iPhone and iPod Touch formats are available from the iTunes App Store. The Blackberry format is available from the Blackberry App World store. The Android format, is available from the Android Market. For other devices, a web format that is viewable from any smartphone with web-browsing capability is available from the mobile.princeton.edu website.
Future planned enhancements to iPrinceton include: real-time campus bus locations; library book reservations; health services information; and a new, expanded Reunions and Commencement module.
OIT and Sustainability
OIT has been collaborating with the Office of Sustainability and working with students, faculty, staff and other administrators, to help further Princeton’s sustainability goals. A number of ongoing OIT efforts are helping the University reduce power consumption and cut down on the use of paper.
Computer power management
In FY10, OIT established a computer power management program to reduce the amount of energy used by desktop computers on campus. The goal was to:
- Replace older, less energy-efficient computers with newer, more energy-efficient units.
- Implement power management procedures to shut down computers when not in use and ‘wake them up’ only for necessary nightly backups or management.
The following table compares the difference in the hours of operation and energy use (yearly kWh use) between 2008 and 2010 for the 1,854 desktop computers that currently participate in the OIT-sponsored power management program:
|Power (W)||Energy (kWh)||Operational Hours/
|Power (W)||Energy (kWh)|
As the table shows, the energy conservation achieved through computer replacement and the implementation of power management for these 1,854 computers generated an energy savings of 1,272,391 kWh per year, equivalent to taking 15.6 cars off of the road.
IT infrastructure consolidation
OIT has been collaborating with departments to consolidate departmental IT servers and services and move them to the University’s central data center. By using portions of larger, central machines to replicate the functionality of many smaller servers, the University is able to achieve a significant reduction in the amount of power consumed.
Across the 291 servers virtualized by OIT over the last two years, 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of power are now saved annually, enough to continuously power a laptop computer for each member of the class of 2014.
Green data center
OIT is working closely with the Facilities department to optimize power consumption and cooling in the new High Performance Computing Research Center (HPCRC) to be completed in summer 2011.
The electrical system has been designed to include high efficiency components that minimize power losses. The facility will also include a gas generator that will be run during periods of the highest public power demand (and therefore highest power pricing) to reduce load on the public utility and to produce significant cost savings for the University. The generator will also be fit with an absorptive chiller that will use heat from the processors to produce chilled water.
There will be two forms of cooling in the HPCRC, an air-cooling system and a chilled water system. Both systems will have devices for removing heated air directly through special air-handling units, so that the heated air does not mix with cooler air and decrease overall cooling efficiency. In addition, both cooling systems will be equipped with economizers that will allow the use of outdoor air for cooling when the temperature is low enough.
In FY09, OIT began collaborating with several University offices on a “print-less” initiative to encourage students, faculty and staff to print less (http://www.princeton.edu/printless). Partners in this effort are the Office of Sustainability, the Library, the Purchasing Department, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Graduate School, and the Graduate Student Government (GSG). As part of this effort, OIT set a goal to reduce printing in the
OIT clusters by 20% in FY10.
In support of this initiative, the Uniprint printing management system is being used to monitor student printing against established quotas. Undergraduate students received a 2,100-sheet print quota for the year; graduate students received a 3,000-sheet print quota. Most students worked within the print allocation; only 5% of students requested quota increases. As a result of these efforts, in FY10, the print-less initiative resulted in 1,450,000 fewer sheets printed in the OIT clusters, a 17% reduction from the previous year. Placed end-to-end, the 1,450,000 sheets of paper would cover the distance between the Statue of Liberty in NYC and the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.!
OIT also helped nine University departments implement the Uniprint system to improve the management of their printing.
As part of the print-less initiative, OIT and the Library completed a pilot last year to determine if e-reader devices, such as the Amazon Kindle, might further reduce the amount of printing at the University. The pilot was successful in this regard; pilot participants printed 40% less than their peers in non-pilot courses. The Kindle device was found to have a number of pedagogical limitations, but as these are addressed in next-generation devices, we anticipate that the use of e-readers will play a more important role in reducing printing on campus.
High-Performance Computing Research Center [HPCRC]
Site preparation has begun at the Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro for a two-story facility to house Princeton’s high-performance computing research systems. The facility will also house a small component of the University's administrative computing systems.
With approximately 40,000 square feet, the new facility will contain computing space, electrical and mechanical equipment needed to operate the facility, and an office area for support staff.
Expected to be operational in 2011, the HPCRC will support the University's program needs through at least 2017 and will allow for future expansion. A second phase of construction could double the square footage.
This growth accompanies the emergence of computation as a third mode of research in science and engineering, along with pure (analytic) theory and experiment/observation. The computational infrastructure needed to support the increased demand has outgrown the currently available data center resources on campus. The new High-Performance Computing Research Center will enable Princeton’s continued leadership at the forefront of research in these areas.
Two web cams have been installed at the construction site, providing two different live views for those interested in watching as the construction proceeds. An image an hour will be saved from each camera, and, at the conclusion of construction, two time-lapse movies will be created. The web cam views of the construction site can be found at: