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CIT Staff Unite through IGNITE

Team iCode (L to R): Andrew Gianni, Irene Holohan-Moyer, Joe Grupp and Kevin Eye. (Not pictured: Andrew Ryan)

Published September 2013

By Robert Poleszak

What inspires change? Giving someone the opportunity to innovate and be recognized for their accomplishments.

Open to all CIT employees and organized by the CIT Professional Development Committee, CIT IGNITE is an innovation challenge. Five cross-functional teams from various CIT departments present proposals for new services that best demonstrated innovative uses of IT to improve the UB experience for faculty, staff or students. All CIT employees were invited to watch the presentations and vote on each proposal.

In addition to providing a proposal, the contest required teams to pitch their idea and produce a timeline and budget.  Teams were judged on impact, usefulness, originality and creativity.

The proposals were judged by a combination of scores from the audience and the following panel:

  • Tom Furlani, Interim Associate Vice President for Information Technology (CIO)
  • Robert Orrange, UB Career Services
  • Kevin Cleary, CSE System Administrator

A total of five proposals were judged, but Team iCode, which consisted of Andrew Gianni, Irene Holohan-Moyer, Joe Grupp, Kevin Eye and Andrew Ryan, was ultimately victorious. Their proposal for securely exposing select institutional data to UB “citizen developers” and encouraging app development captured the imagination of judges and attendees. Resources have been committed to develop a proof-of-concept.

"We are actively working on the planning phase of the project, defining the project plan and identifying resources for implementation," said Andrew Gianni, Application Development Analyst with Enterprise Application Services (EAS).

According to team member Kevin Eye, also an EAS Application Development Analyst, team iCode hopes to develop a UB Application Programming Interface (API), which will allow controlled access to specific university data. An example of other APIs spurring citizen development is Facebook. Facebook created its own API that allows limited access to an IT data warehouse and, since its release, hundreds of innovative apps using Facebook data have been created by developers outside of Facebook. Team iCode hopes to see this sort of grassroots development here at UB.

Andrew added, "While public APIs are offered by many commercial enterprises, there are a limited number of universities that are currently offering this kind of service. Citizen developers could range from University staff members, who might develop an application or data-driven Web page for their department, to a student creating a new application using the API."

Although team iCode won out in the end, many great ideas were proposed during the IGNITE competition. Among them was a proposal for an app to simplify UB events and groups, better facilitating campus involvement. Another idea was to combine different communication tools into one unified suite to improve collaboration across UB departments. A cloud computing system was also proposed to help researchers utilize UB’s computing resources in addition to a new way finding system to help people who could otherwise be easily lost roaming the halls of Capen Hall.  

Organizers believe IGNITE has the potential to encourage greater collaboration with the campus community given the external interest shown this year by some groups including UB’s School of Management and Infotech Niagara.