September 5, 2008
The University of Saskatchewan has joined with a number of Canadian institutions in an initiative that links their wireless services, making campus visits easy for students, staff and faculty.
Thanks to a service known as Eduroam, visitors to the U of S as well as U of S students, faculty and staff visiting other campuses are able to log into local wireless systems using their home credentials, explained Rick Bunt, associate vice-president of information and communications technology. In the past, visitors were required to apply for a guest account at other universities and staff time was needed to set up those accounts.
“Eduroam technology gives our faculty members, staff and even students the opportunity to travel and easily access their wireless services while they’re travelling,” said Bunt.
The system, which currently involves about a dozen universities across the country, was organized by the Canadian University Council of Chief Information Officers (CUCCIO), Bunt said. It is part of an international Eduroam consortium involving institutions around the world, with the exception of the United States.
“We (CUCCIO members) were looking for something we could do relatively easily that would bring huge value to our individual campuses.”
To access the system, users are first required to do a simple download from the university’s Information Technology Services (ITS) website onto a laptop, said Bunt. Once they arrive at a participating campus, they enter their U of S identification and password. The host system automatically requests authentication from the home system “and you’re in.”
Set up for the university’s participation in Eduroam was relatively easy, he said, involving “a few weeks of effort on the part of ITS to do the configurations.” He described the system as a trusted federation, meaning the institutions trust each other’s verification systems. There are minor concerns about security “but there is an understanding in the policy agreement that users will respect local computer use policies.”
Bunt used Eduroam on a recent visit to the University of Calgary, and he is receiving positive reports from faculty members traveling in Europe and Australia.
The organizing council is actively recruiting other Canadian universities to the service, and Bunt expects most will be part of Eduroam in the near future. It is also “looking at other services we might want to provide in a shared way,” one example being access to library services.
Information about Eduroam can be found on the ITS website.