What if you could take the pulse of projects at MIT that benefit the community? The annual “Collaborating for MIT’s Future” poster session once again provided that opportunity. Held on Oct. 25 on the top floor of the Media Lab, the event featured 55 posters and 132 presenters from 40 MIT departments, offices, and groups. Nearly 400 attendees came to catch up with colleagues and find out about forward-looking projects.
This year’s session covered everything from K-12 collaborations to the Hive sustainability garden to the MIT Activities Committee, celebrating its 35th year. Following are a few noteworthy projects that many in the community are likely to benefit from.
Urgent Care’s wait-time software
MIT Medical highlighted an app called Clockwise that Urgent Care launched in April. It lets you put your name into the queue before you arrive. Or you can use it to sign in at the kiosk in the lobby of MIT Medical; you are informed of your wait time and, if it’s too long, you can see the triage nurse and then leave and return at a more convenient time. Clockwise will hold your spot and send you a text 20 minutes before your appointment.
Many community members are already using this service, which has led to 30 percent shorter wait times for those who book appointments with Urgent Care online.
Well Connection Telehealth
On Jan. 1, 2020, MIT Benefits will deploy a new telehealth benefit for employees on the MIT Health Plans (Traditional, Choice, or High Deductible). Through Blue Cross Blue Shield Well Connection Telehealth, MIT community members be able to make live video visits 24/7 with board-certified physicians or licensed clinicians for minor medical and behavioral health services. Access is via smartphone, computer, or tablet and wait times are 5-10 minutes, on average.
The physicians, who are all in the Blue Cross Blue Shield network, can recommend treatment for a variety of medical conditions, such as colds and sinus infections, and can send prescriptions to your local pharmacy. Well Connection Telehealth can also be used for behavioral health services (e.g., for depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, stress). The telehealth benefit will have a $0 copay for employees enrolled in one of MIT’s health plans.
Powering MIT into the future
MIT Facilities is upgrading its Central Utilities Plant on Albany Street (Building 42C) in a big way. As the plant’s natural gas turbine is approaching end-of-life, the Department of Facilities has initiated a project to replace this turbine and add a second one; both turbines will also have heat recovery steam generators. This high-efficiency cogeneration process uses one fuel (natural gas) to produce two types of energy (electric and thermal). The new plant will generate most of MIT’s electricity needs, while significantly decreasing its carbon output and greenhouse gas emissions.
Upgrades at the plant will help MIT lower emissions, improve campus resiliency and sustainability, and create a more flexible power system for incorporating future innovations. The production floor, which houses all the critical equipment for the plant, is four feet above the Cambridge flood plain. There will also be backup fuel on site, so if the natural gas line gets interrupted, MIT can switch over immediately to emergency fuel and not lose power. A state-of-the-art control system will enable powering through a utility blackout.
The upgraded plant should be up and running by fall 2020.
Reimagining the MIT ID card
Today, all members of the community have a plastic ID card that’s used for a range of things, from gaining access to parking lots and buildings, to checking books out of the MIT libraries, to paying for a meal with TechCASH. A unique opportunity has presented itself and MIT Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) is looking to transform how the community obtains, uses, and manages the MIT ID.
Apple, in partnership with CBORD, has enabled a select group of universities and other schools to integrate their ID cards with the Apple Wallet app. This has allowed MIT to take a more modern approach to issuing MIT ID cards on iOS devices, including the Apple watch. Potentially as soon as next summer, community members with iOS devices will be able to get a digital ID via the MIT mobile app: Take a selfie, authenticate with your Kerberos ID and password, and within minutes have an MIT ID that’s ready for use in your Apple Wallet. A version for Android will follow.
This also opens up the opportunity to improve the onboarding process, making it easy for new students and staff to obtain their ID before they even get to campus.
Once you have a digital MIT ID, you can use it for everything you use your plastic ID card for on campus today. IS&T also envisions a dashboard where you can manage all of the services used with the ID card in one place: Community members will, for example, be able to check their TechCASH balance and Dining Dollars; books checked out of the library; what they paid for parking last month; any gym membership status; what buildings they have access to; and status of Pharos printing credits.
The current plastic MIT ID cards will continue to be supported in almost all cases. A small number of people with older plastic MIT ID cards will need to have those replaced as part of the modernization of MIT’s campus security system.