Traveling? Plug into Duke Global IT Support

OIT offers tools and tips to students and employees traveling on Duke business

Ann Skinner, research project manager at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, at the Great Wall of China. She relies on technology overseas to do her work.
Ann Skinner, research project manager at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, at the Great Wall of China. She relies on technology overseas to do her work.

Ann Skinner travels abroad each year to places like Colombia, Jordan and Sweden for her research project. During a trip to Jordan last year, her cell phone died, and she felt a rising sense of panic.

“You feel very vulnerable when you are so dependent on devices,” she said. “This was the only way I had to communicate with my family.”

Luckily, Skinner reset the phone without any data loss, but the incident reminded her of how uncertain technology can be in foreign countries.

Last year alone, Duke faculty, students and staff, including Skinner, took at least 7,000 trips internationally, a growing number that has led Duke to change how it manages global IT support. Duke’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) has made new investments in global IT support, including a new Global IT outreach campaign to help people stay connected when traveling internationally.

“The way we do business has changed,” said Tracy Futhey, Duke’s chief information officer. “Duke is all over the world, and we are finding new ways to keep our affiliates connected and secure.”

The Global IT outreach campaign, which includes a travel checklist with IT tools and tips to plan ahead, is designed to help travelers avoid potentially frustrating or costly technology challenges.

Typical issues for travelers include obtaining affordable mobile coverage, accessing Wi-Fi, securing data and logging into NetID-protected systems with multifactor authentication as an extra layer of security.

As a seasoned traveler, Skinner, the research project manager at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, plans ahead to ensure she doesn’t run into IT problems in other countries. She contacts her wireless service provider to set up an international plan before traveling, connects to free Wi-Fi to avoid hefty data charges, uses Duke’s virtual private network (VPN) to protect her data, clears her laptop of unneeded files before traveling, and uses multifactor authentication to login into Duke systems while abroad.

Skinner learned something new from the Global IT travel checklist and believes others will find the information about two-step authentication valuable, too.

“When traveling overseas, I usually get a list of multifactor passcodes in advance so that I am not dependent on cell service while traveling,” she said. “Now I learned you can get them from the Duo Mobile app even without cell service. This is a tip that will make things a lot easier.”