Campus News

Installing Reliable Wi-Fi in the Face of COVID-19 Challenges

Photo of desks physically distanced in the Y Academy at UK
ITS installed Wi-Fi in the Y Academy at UK for school-aged children.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 11, 2020) With the growing and ever-changing University of Kentucky landscape due to COVID-19, it is essential that technology must be there to support it. UK Information Technology Services (ITS) is committed to that mission by providing Wi-Fi where needed — whether it be for new services like child care centers or new safe spaces like the Campus Canopies project.

Due to many schools in the area starting their semester with online learning, child care has been a challenge for many UK employees. To support child care needs, the ITS Networking & Infrastructure team outfitted the former Senior Center, now owned by UK and located at the corner of Alumni Drive and Nicholasville Road, with a brand-new Wi-Fi network in its transition to the Y Academy at UK for school-aged children. This new network will provide a robust connection allowing for children to complete their online learning while in the facility. 

This project was a collaboration with several other groups, including UK Human Resources and the YMCA of Central Kentucky. “We are so thankful for their help and know that the families will appreciate the children being able to connect their Chromebooks for virtual learning, too,” said Erika Chambers, employee engagement and work life director in UK Human Resources. 

Filling the need for more safe spaces to physically distance, the university announced Campus Canopies in various locations across campus. The canopy networks were designed with new point-to-point wireless uplinks that enable less wiring and cables in high traffic, outdoor areas while providing a strong connection for studying, socializing or relaxing. Thanks to the efforts of ITS, these canopies will have Wi-Fi enabled in every location, allowing for students to access coursework or watch lecture recordings. 

Student Government President Courtney Wheeler recognizes the importance of having Wi-Fi outdoors. “Having Wi-Fi in the canopies allows students to have access to the internet when they are eating lunch or more importantly trying to do homework outside. As a result of COVID-19, many people are spending more time outdoors than ever before, and now can get fresh air without missing out on class or an appointment they might have.” 

More information on the Wi-Fi networks in the Campus Canopies is available at www.uky.edu/wifihelp

These two projects are just a small part of the networking efforts to support the university during COVID-19. In April 2020, ITS also provided networking infrastructure for the Nutter Field House Hospital, converting the athletics facility to a 400-bed field hospital in preparation for an inpatient surge. Customized network designs and installation from employees working around the clock yielded high-speed internet access over more than 108,000 square feet of the complex. 

While the university community continues to adapt to life amid a pandemic, ITS remains diligent in providing the necessary technology to make operations run as normal as possible. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.