Wireless network being installed at School of Medicine, BJC HealthCare

The School of Medicine and BJC HealthCare are going wireless to allow students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors to connect to either network without plugging in.

Phase I of implementing the joint wireless network, called MedFi, is under way with expected completion in summer 2008. When complete, 33 buildings covering 9 million square feet at the Washington University Medical Center will have wireless accessibility with 800 access points at the School of Medicine and 1,000 access points at BJC buildings.

Michael Caputo

Telecommunications Facility Corp., the joint School of Medicine- and BJC-operated company that supports phone services at the medical center, will be funding and overseeing the work.

The School of Medicine work will be done in four stages with each stage taking about three months. Stage 1, which covers the Bernard Becker Medical Library, the Clinical Sciences Research Building and its North Tower, Wohl Clinic and Hospital and the Northwest Tower, is expected to be completed in January. The service is already available in Becker Library.

Stage 2 includes the McDonnell Pediatric Research Building, Renard, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Wohl Hospital and Barnard. It is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in March.

Stage 3, which includes the Eric P. Newman Education Center (EPNEC), Farrell Learning and Teaching Center, and the North Medical, Maternity, McMillan, IWJ and West buildings, is on track to begin in March 2008.

Stage 4, set to begin in June 2008, includes the Cancer Research, South Medical, McDonnell Medical Sciences, East, East-Imaging buildings and the Biotechnology Center.

Work on 14 BJC buildings will be done in three stages to be completed by next July. Some stairways and elevators may not be covered initially in some locations.

“We recognize that the level of technology available to our faculty, staff and students is moving more toward mobility,” said Michael Caputo, assistant dean and chief information officer for the School of Medicine. “The new infrastructure will improve wireless access throughout the medical center and provide our users the opportunity to stay connected to their home network as they move between the medical school and the rest of the medical center.”

MedFi will directly benefit those at EPNEC for conferences, said Sonia Francis, project management director in Central Information Technology Services at the School of Medicine.

The network is being rolled out to augment, not to replace, the existing wired networks at the School of Medicine and BJC, said John Roman, manager, network services in Central Information Technology Services.

“The advantage of the wireless network is the flexibility to roam among all medical center buildings without having to change networks,” Roman said. “The existing ‘wired’ network will continue to offer the highest performance and reliability.”

The network will be accessible using Windows XP, Windows Vista and Macintosh platforms. Web-based applications such as e-mail and browsers will automatically work with MedFi, said John Barenkamp, BJC director of information services.

Those interested in the wireless network should contact Central Information Technology Services or go online to mscitsprojects.wustl.edu.