Growing Research and the Cognitive Campus

From creative problem solving to cutting-edge research, innovation thrives at UB. Our campus community inspires us to continue evolving toward safer stewardship of data, and more responsive support for our customers.

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Artificial intelligence (AI)/Chatbot

Leveraging AI technology, UBIT is developing a virtual customer assistant that uses AI to provide convenient and on-demand answers to customers’ most common technology problems.

By analyzing thousands of customer service records, a prototype of the chatbot can already link a customer to free software downloads on the UBIT website based on their campus affiliation, simply from knowing their UBITName.

In the future, the assistant will also be trained to assist in UBITName password resets and other “first level” tasks, all in a matter of seconds and at any time of the day or night.

Not only will this project allow us to meet or exceed the level of service provided by institutions like ours, but by leading the charge in implementing “smart” technology today, we can demonstrate its value to others on campus and provide insight and assistance in how it might help them streamline instruction, services and support.

Partnership with Institute for Healthcare Informatics

The Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IHI) has joined the UBIT virtual machine infrastructure using UBIT firewall, VPN and VLAN services. This leverages UB enterprise services, creates economies of scale for both UBIT and IHI, and provides IHI with the ability to scale their infrastructure as the need arises.

Expansion of this service will include adding “HIPAA” class data from other affiliates, which will enhance UB research activities.

NIST research environment

In recognition of the growing research community at UB, the Information Security Office created the Information Security Compliance Analyst role in December 2017. This position collaborates with faculty and distributed IT professionals in order to ensure that research environments comply with NIST standards for information security and privacy. This includes collaborating with Enterprise Infrastructure Services on the development, building and implementation of the central NIST 800-171 compliant virtual desktop environment.

The NIST 800-171 compliant environment:

  • Supports the increased awareness of security standards and guidelines
  • Supports the development of security expertise in the IT disciplines (i.e. network, etc.)
  • Supports the IT security needs for sponsored and funded research

UB’s School of Pharmacy is the first partner to utilize the environment.


Awareness, communication and collaboration are key to supporting faculty research. To that end, the Compliance Analyst fosters working relationships with Sponsored Projects and the research community.

Adaptable and nimble

The Compliance Analyst is responsible for collaborating with distributed IT professionals and faculty in order to identify and evaluate when a specialized research environment is more appropriate than the standard NIST 800-171 compliant environment. The project team adapts the security controls accordingly. For example, specialized equipment may not be able to function in a standard environment. Therefore, compensating controls or other features will be implemented in order to ensure appropriate security compliance.

Looking ahead

Deploying the NIST 800-171 compliant environment is the first step of an ongoing initiative. Once the environment is in place, demonstrating information security compliance and executing data use agreements or contracts will require minimal effort from the faculty or distributed IT professionals.

Because the landscape of information security is ever-evolving, the Compliance Analyst will conduct cyclical auditing and update the environment accordingly. The audit also provides VPCIO leadership with valuable data points for information security compliance.

UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski (right) and VPCIO J. Brice Bible (left) participate in a Spring 2018 Faculty IT Liaison design session, led by UBIT Faculty Fellow Dr. Valerie Nesset.