NATE to help with campus tech needs

NATE represents the new ITS system designed to help students.
Baylor University

By Mallory Hisler

There is a new “student” on campus.

Baylor Information Technology Services has launched a new way to report problems with AirBear using a cartoon character named NATE.

The system, which launched this week, will give students new options in reporting wireless network issues.

NATE stands for Name, Area, Time and Equipment — the information ITS needs to record when there are problems with the wireless Internet system.

According to Alison Pruett, a digital media and communications specialist for university libraries, the idea to create something like NATE came from the desire to answer students’ calls for a better wireless system around campus.

“Our library and ITS directors met with students that serve as an advisory committee to get their opinions,” Pruett said. “Their main concern was being able to communicate issues with AirBear.”

Pruett also said many problems occurring outside of regular business hours go unreported, because most people don’t feel the need to report the issue once they get Internet again.

Enter NATE. The system has been personified into a blond-haired, green eyed, average Joe, but more specifically, a Baylor student.

Becky King, associate vice president for information technology, said NATE’s character was created so people experiencing a problem would have something to help them remember what to do.

“We thought, ‘How could we get information about where problems are happening when we aren’t there?’ Obviously if you are having online problems, you can’t fill something out online,” King said.

Because the Internet isn’t a feasible medium to expect people experiencing Internet problems to use to report them, NATE uses other means.

“We gave NATE a phone number, so you can call or text him,” Pruett said.

For now, calling and texting is the only way to report a problem to NATE, but there may be a different platform for students to use in the future, such as Twitter.

“The idea for NATE is to make him a typical Baylor student,” Pruett said. “We even created a Twitter account for him so people can follow him.”

His inaugural tweet was about finding his way around campus.

“First day on #Baylor campus! Still lost in the Burleson/Draper/Old Main building/s 🙁 #firstdayfail #rookie #baylorproblems,” NATE reported on his official Twitter, @BaylorNATE.

Pruett said she and others who helped to create NATE have high hopes for him.

“Right now, he is solely for AirBear, but we may roll him out to other IT issues in the future,” she said.

Pruett said everyone should put the number in their phones. NATE’s phone number is 23456-4-NATE(6283).

NATE’s voice will greet callers, and an automated message will greet texters.

“Students shouldn’t expect an immediate reply, because NATE can’t fix their problems,” Pruett said.

“He is a centralized way for us to know what is going on.”

The voice and text messages NATE receives will be passed on to ITS so they can gather the data and see if there is a larger problem that needs to be addressed.

“Maintaining an extensive wireless network such as AirBear is a difficult thing, because there are lots of parts,” King said.

King said it is important for ITS to have the information that NATE stands for, and she hopes the acronym and character will help students remember those items and recognize the importance of reporting problems.

“Most students just blow [IT problems] off, but if we’re having capacity issues, we need to know,” she said. “We are really hoping that students use it, and we hope that it is well received and seen as a sincere attempt to provide a better service.”