INTERNET & INTRANET PROJECTS: (3/98, 5/98 Bits & Bytes)

By Fred Henning

Information Resources has several projects relating to Internet and Intranet.

Access to the Internet for ABMC users including those from the Corporate Office, Alexian Brothers Lake Cook, etc. is a project which we hope to complete soon. The Network Infrastructure upgrade completion needs to happen first so that the Internet Addresses of all of the PCs and systems are compatible. We are at the point of developing the policies and procedures which will need to be in place. Security & legal issues are of concern, especially patient information. We also need to provide protection from Virus attacks and of course consider the problem of objectionable material being viewed, downloaded and/or circulated. We are also looking at the feasibility of using the Internet as a tool to allow Physicians access to AlexIS. At present we have supplied dial in access to some key areas until network access is available.

An intranet is another way to describe our Local and Wide Area Network. I suggest that this type of network becomes an Intranet when access to information is via a Browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.). There are a number of significant advantages to this technology. The most easily recognizable is that Navigation is very intuitive. The ability to work in a collaborative manner is enhanced and Access to Manuals and Documentation is improved. The latest version of documents are available on-line. Copies of document pages can be printed without having to print everything. The ability to do logical as well as text searches is provided. Our goal is provide Intranet access to some documents by the end of April. (No Fooling !)

Information Resources has acted as a resource for the most visible Alexian Brothers Internet activity. The ABMC Marketing department manages the Web site and the Alexian Brothers Corporate office has contracted with the same company as Marketing to host the web site. This site will contain the links to Home Pages for all of the Alexian Brothers sites including the ABMC site.

In the March issue of Bits & Bytes, I indicated we were working on Internet access. An Internet connection was installed in April as well as a device called a 'Firewall'. A Firewall is a combination of hardware and software that allows us to exercise control over who is able to connect to the Internet or prevent someone from outside of ABMC from accessing our internal systems. We have a small group of users that have been given Internet access to test the systems. If everything continues to go well and the appropriate Administrative Internet Polices are adopted, additional users will be able set up to attach to the Internet. Part of the policy will be the requirement that users sign a request for Internet service, signed by their department head, that contains a statement acknowledging that ABMC will be monitoring their access. To this end we are testing software that provides management reports showing what PCs are accessing the Internet, at what time, for how long and what sites and pages they are viewing! This will allow Information Resources an opportunity to provide Management Reports similar to those that Communications furnishes for telephone usage. This software also provides other filters to help identify potentially improper usage of the Internet access.

On the Intranet side, we have developed an internal Web Site within Information Resources with demonstration pages to show such as: the types of material that can be accessed via a Browser; its ease of use; and the type of effort that would be needed to access various information via a Web Browser. As an example, I have been posting the ABMC Cafeteria Menu on the intranet and documenting the steps it would take to covert this file from a Word document to Web format and then move it to the Web Site. Ultimately, we would also like to develop a process so that individual departments could develop their documents in Web format and move them to a temporary location on the Web Server where they would be reviewed and moved to the live Web Site. With the help of Brian and Mark from Communications, we have been working on the best way to implement an expanded on-line telephone book. Also being tested are on-line ABMC policies and procedures. One issue that continues to be addressed is that of providing a user with a suitable printed version of the document being viewed. We have also been looking at the 'navigation' issue. What is an appropriate format for Web pages in our multi-entity, multi-departmental environment? How do we reduce the number of clicks before you get what you want? An example is the Yellow Pages. How many guesses does it take before you actually find who you are looking for? Do you find the local 'Best Buy' store under Appliances, Electronics, Music, Department Store, Discount Store, etc.

Information Resources has come up with a long list of potential uses for an Intranet Web Site including access to the AlexIS system and an ability to gather and display data from more then one system on a single Web Page. John Condon will be contacting Department Heads to find out how an Intranet Web Site might help their department and its customers.

Training for both Internet usage and Intranet usage is being developed by the Office Automation group.