OneCampus: A GPS for Student Services and Resources

March 15, 2016  |  by: Todd Yates
Campus Portal
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While my full-time job is vice president of operations for rSmart, I volunteer in my off-time as a firefighter and EMT. I live in a remote part of Central Texas in a geographic area called “The Hill Country,” which as you might imagine has a somewhat vertical terrain.

Unlike many parts of the country, all fire and emergency medical services in Texas are provided by volunteers outside the large metro areas. This means that volunteer firefighters and first responders are called upon to assist when there is a fire, motor vehicle accident, emergency medical call, or some other incident.

Recently our fire department was dispatched to one of the most remote areas of the county to locate and treat a woman that had fallen and severely broken her leg while hiking alone.

We arrived at the staging area with rescue gear in hand and everything ready to go from large off-road fire trucks to rescue ATVs loaded with chainsaws. An air ambulance was also on standby ready to transport her to the hospital but we were immediately confounded by a problem: while knew the general vicinity we were unable to locate her exact position as it was a large area surrounded by thick brush and heavy cedar forest.

We headed out and started by calling her name but the mountainous terrain blocked or reflected most sounds. We then started a tentative search spreading out in a classic search-and-rescue pattern but given the size and nature of the area we knew this would be a lengthy process. We also recognized the longer our patient was exposed to the elements and incapacitated with a major fracture, the chances she would develop life-threatening issues increased so we were aggressively looking for ways to focus our search.

Myself and another firefighter were struck by an idea. We knew our 911 dispatcher had been in brief but unreliable phone contact with the patient several times. We asked the dispatcher if she could send a text to the woman that contained concise instructions on how to text her GPS coordinates from her phone. We then waited anxiously. Minutes later, the dispatcher called us – success! The woman was able to text her exact GPS location and our all-hands-on-deck exhaustive search turned into a targeted rescue. With a single ATV cutting its way directly to the patient, she was treated and flown out to the hospital in a very timely fashion.

I was struck today how closely this is analogous to our OneCampus service. Every day students are challenged with finding resources or completing tasks with campus enterprise systems. They are tasked with navigating their own heavy forest of links, pages, help centers, knowledge bases, etc. While the information and services are valuable, they are often not able to find it in a timely fashion despite knowing what they need or want to do.

OneCampus can be that GPS allowing students to quickly narrow down and find exactly what they’re looking for with minimal frustration and more positive outcomes. 

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