HNP Communications Advisory Committee member Jim McIntosh, OFM, provides an update on the rollout of the new e-mail option for HNP friars. Since last fall, he has chaired the implementation team that is setting up the technology to provide each friar his own personal account. Jim is collaborating with the HNP Communications Office to educate the friars about the system.
NEW YORK — HNP’s Communications Office has been working for the last nine months to provide e-mail and Web-based collaboration tools to the friars.
Many friars have e-mail addresses assigned to them where they minister and then find themselves having to notify everyone they know when they change ministries. The Province’s Communications Advisory Committee decided to give each friar an e-mail address that he can count on being the same forever, regardless of ministry assignment.
Google provides e-mail accounts and other services to businesses and educational institutions at a low per-account cost. Universities such as Notre Dame, Penn State and George Washington University, among hundreds of others, have moved their e-mail system to Google. Google provides this same service to non-profit organizations for free. Consequently, the Communications Office signed up for Google’s e-mail service to provide each friar with his own permanent e-mail address.
Benefits and Services
After signing up for the e-mail service, we realized the wealth of other services that Google provides as part of this offering. They include:
• Google Docs — The ability to store Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the web for retrieval anywhere in the world. There is a rich variety of sharing options so that any document can be kept private or shared with a small group of friars, with all friars or with the world. Sharing can be for read or for write access. For example, a guardian can share a document with the friars in his friary, or two or more friars can collaborate on the writing of a book — even though they live in different cities.
• Google Calendars — The ability of a friar to maintain his personal calendar online and from anywhere on the web and/or his cell phone. The same options exist for sharing. A friar can keep an appointment private, can share his busy/free status or can choose to share full details with whomever he wants. A friar can even give permission to someone else, such as a secretary or assistant, to co-manage his calendar.
• Google Sites — The ability for a friar, or group of friars, to quickly and easily build Web pages which can be shared, again, with a select group of people, with all friars or with the world.
• Google Groups — The ability for any friar or group of friars to set up a discussion area for any purpose. These can be set up for established Provincial groups or for ad-hoc groups of friars. Documents, calendars and sites can be easily shared with group members simply by giving the desired permission to the group. Any group member then inherits this permission.
• Google Contacts — On a trip and don’t have your HNP Directory handy? Not a problem. As you begin to type the friar’s name, his various e-mail addresses will show up as options.
Security and Flexibility
Google maintains high security for these services, as demanded by the universities and businesses that use it. The Google Apps Terms of Service contractually ensures that the friars are the sole owners of their data.
The controls, processes and policies that protect user data in Google’s systems have obtained a SAS 70 Type II attestation, and Google is registered with the US-EU Safe Harbor agreement, which helps ensure that the data protection compliance meets European Union standards for educational institutions. In addition, we are assigning accounts only to Holy Name Province friars; no employees or partners-in-ministry have accounts on the system.
Because the Province is assigning the e-mail addresses, if a friar’s e-mail account is hijacked, as has happened to more than one friar, it is a simple matter to reset the password to return control of the account to the friar.
E-mail accounts and all of these other collaboration services will be available for all HNP friars without cost and without advertising. Of course, use of the services is completely optional. A friar can keep his current e-mail address, perhaps only choosing to forward all e-mail from his new address to his current account. Other friars may choose to keep their ministry e-mail addresses for ministry activities and use this new address, since it will never change, for communication with other friars and family members. A friar can choose to use any or none of these various services.
These e-mail accounts have been tested by the friar-members of the Communications Advisory Committee as well as by the simply-professed friars. This month, the Communications Office will begin rolling out the HNPFriar accounts to all solemnly-professed friars.
The photo above shows the start page of HNPfriar.org, with links to the services mentioned above.
— Br. Jim, who is based in Bolivia, recommended the use of Google for the provincial e-mail accounts as a way to facilitate more effective and efficient communication among HNP friars. Questions and comments about the Google e-mail system can be directed to Jocelyn Thomas, director of communications.