Just in time for the opening of a new school year, Johns Hopkins has unveiled a new online "white pages" directory to provide help in contacting students, instructors and staff members at Hopkins campuses and centers throughout the Baltimore-Washington region.
But the new Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory, called JHED for short, promises to be far more useful than a phone book. In the coming months, administrators say, the new JHED home page also will serve as a critical gateway to other Web-based information and services, including e-mail, student grade reports, accounting records, electronic timecards, benefits selection, remote access to library journals and temporary digital file storage.
"In the information technology industry, we call this a 'single sign-on' system," explains Louise Miller-Finn, Hopkins' manager of enterprise network services. "We'll be able to save money, increase efficiency and do a better job of keeping track of our students and employees."
Currently, she says, hundreds of staff members must administer and update various e-mail systems, local access networks and online business accounts throughout the university and the medical institutions.
"The new directory will do a lot of this work automatically, based on the information that's recorded about you," Miller-Finn says. "The system will know, for example, what classes you're taking or what role you play at the university. We'll be able to automatically provide access to certain accounts and services, based on the information in JHED."
Throughout the summer, JHED (pronounced "jed") has been operating in a pilot mode, allowing technicians to correct any glitches that surfaced. This week, the directory is available for public use at two Web addresses http://jhed.jhu.edu or http://jhed.jhmi.edu.
The directory lists contact information--including work locations, phone numbers, job titles, e-mail addresses and fax numbers--for about 40,000 students and employees affiliated with the Homewood campus, JHMI and Bayview campuses, the Peabody Institute, the School of Advanced International Studies and the Applied Physics Laboratory. Students and employees will be permitted to keep some of this information private, particularly from people who view the directory from outside the university and medical system via the Internet.
Students and employees also will have the option of allowing their photos--the same ones that appear on J-Cards and identification badges--to appear in the online directory.
JHED was developed to take the place of the university's current online directory, JHWorld, which was launched in the spring of 1999. According to Miller-Finn, the JHWorld computers have crashed on occasion when they could not cope with floods of requests for directory information, student grades and benefits selection.
"[That system] just couldn't handle the traffic demands of thousands of users," she says. "We looked at the lessons we had learned from JHWorld when we built the new enterprise directory."
One problem was that some directory information on JHWorld was updated only once annually. In contrast, the JHED system will receive nightly updates from payroll and student registration offices. In addition, unlike JHWorld, the information on JHED will be housed simultaneously on servers in two locations--one at Homewood and one on the JHMI campus--so that service will not be lost if a power failure or other problems occur in one location or the other.
As JHED is phased in over the coming school year, the older JHWorld directory will remain active. But it is expected to be retired within a year.
Incoming freshmen at Homewood and new students at the School of Medicine will acquire their new e-mail accounts by using their JHED log-in and password. As the school year progresses, other students and employees who now receive e-mail through the JHUnix or JHMI mail systems will be shifted to the JHED system.
Meanwhile, JHED administrators are encouraging all returning students and employees to visit the JHED home page and perform a search on their own names. Next, they should click on the "1st Time Login" link to sign into the system. JHED automatically assigns a login identification based on the user's name; first-time users must enter their Social Security number and date of birth before they can select a password. This information will remain confidential because it travels over an encrypted link to JHED.
Although users may groan at the prospect of remembering yet another password, JHED administrators say the system will ultimately produce less strain on the brain by serving as the single online gatekeeper to many Hopkins services. Answers to frequently asked questions about JHED can be found at https://jhedi.hosts.jhmi.edu/jhed/ index.cfm?fuseaction=JHED_FAQ.
Users should check the accuracy of their online profiles. Some changes can be made by the users, but for most corrections, employees and students will need to contact their department human resources supervisor or their student registration office. Administrators are encouraging employees to make corrections within the next few weeks because the information appearing on the JHED site will soon be published in a paper version of the Hopkins directory.