Planning now to be ready for 2024

The Strategic Plan Revised – Shadow IT Plans

By Deb Karcher, former CTO of Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Information Technology (IT) Strategic Plans often follow the goals and mission of the organization and uses Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to track progress and success. Sometimes they can include specific goals that are required to meet the IT requirements of the organization’s strategic plan. More than likely the goals will not address future trends such as bandwidth growth, power consumption, and Internet of Things (IoT). To allow IT to prepare for the future there should be a shadow IT plan or roadmap that parallels the organization’s plan. This article targets the Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K12) education sector where resources and budgets are limited, and the single goal should always be providing equitable pathways to student achievement.

Future initiatives can be managed if districts have time to prepare their infrastructure, systems, and policies so that they are in place when the request is made. There are many influences that strategic planning may not consider that will drive need, perhaps not immediately, but sometime in the future. Paralleling life experiences to the school experience and questioning does this exist in our schools is one way of identifying the influences. For example, the use of credit, debit, and online payments have been used for decades; it was only in the past few years that schools have been able to accept these modern payment models. This initiative was probably not in any strategic plan but occurred because of community pressure or the functionality was available in a newly implemented system. Some of today’s influences that can impact K12 are Artificial Intelligence (AI), interoperability between systems, human capital shortages, legislation, school safety, charter and private school growth, technology, and external.

The following is an example of three influences mentioned above (legislation, school safety, and technology) and demonstrates how a district could weave their responses into their district’s strategic and IT plan over a five-year period.
Near and long-term plans should be considered. In 2018 Senators added language to the U.S. Education Department spending bill that included a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of outdated school facilities. The study includes ten specific areas, including heating and air conditioning. This year House Democrats introduced a bill providing $100 billion for school facilities upgrades.

A near-term solution is needed to capture the status of the facility areas and provide reports to the GAO*, community and other stakeholders. For smaller districts the building conditions may be captured in a spreadsheet; larger districts may have a facilities management system. Using systems, such as GuideK12, to geographically present the building conditions by location may demonstrate the need to equitably distribute funding and provide transparency for building renovation and new construction projects.

These processes and systems are necessary for capturing and reporting critical building conditions. Once the GAO completes their study these near-term systems can be used to provide the inventory and costs of future facility projects such as new roofs, window replacements, water purity, and cyber-fencing. The reporting systems can provide stakeholders with on-going building conditions. Additionally, these systems can be used for prioritizing and recommending building projects if local, state, or federal funding is received.

The near-term systems can also be used to facilitate a long-term project that will take many years to fully implement. Additional school security and safety for staff and children is an immediate need. Adding security guards and closing entrances is a near-term solution that will continue to increase in costs. In the future, districts could use feeds from cameras and facial recognition creating a cyber-boundary that would allow systems to notify staff of unauthorized entries and immediately dispatch security to the location. This should not replace security guards but augment their roles.
Over the next five years, many activities can be started to implement cyber-fencing for our schools. Using the near-term solutions, an inventory of cameras, power issues, WIFI, and bandwidth can be recorded in the facility systems so that schools needing these upgrades are given a higher priority. These can all be reported or geographically displayed.

To implement a cyber-fence districts may do the following
• Inventory systems, infrastructure, and equipment by location
• Begin purchasing cameras that can feed a facial recognition program
• Build out infrastructure (WIFI) to create a cyber boundary
• Purchase and/or replace access systems that use facial recognition, that can integrate into notification systems, and works on many platforms (phones, smart watches, badges, etc.)
• Purchase notification and communication systems that are compatible with all devices

This is not a complete or detailed plan, but it is a way to start considering the requirements and implementation strategy that can be woven into the district’s strategic plan as it is implemented.

*This is an example because the GAO has not published the collection method

The following are links to the articles and products mentioned.

Facing a ‘Really Big Issue,’ Senators Push for First Federal Survey of the Condition of U.S. Schools Since 1995

House Democrats Unveil $100B School Facility Upgrade Bill, Urge Inclusion in Long-Sought Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

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