Alberta educators taking steps towards shared access to digital services

Technologies that enable staff and students in Alberta to automatically link their devices, and access shared digital resources at partner institutions, are being actively promoted by Cybera. The organization is now seeking the public sector'€™s feedback on how to increase the utilization of these technologies at a workshop being held in Banff on September 28.

Cybera works with its national partner, CANARIE, to develop and promote identity and access management solutions for post-secondary educators through an initiative called the Canadian Access Federation (CAF). CANARIE is the national operator of CAF, which is linked to international access federations worldwide.

One solution CAF offers is eduroam, a world-wide roaming access service. It enables staff and students at participating institutions to automatically access the internet when visiting partner organizations (in 74 countries around the world). In the next year — with funding support from the Alberta Association in Higher Education for Information Technology — Cybera will help three additional Alberta post-secondary institutions join eduroam. The service is already available at nine other institutions in the province, and is continuing to extend its reach among Alberta's public sector.

In Alberta, Cybera and CANARIE are also working with institutions to adopt technologies that make it easier for staff and students to collaborate on research projects, and access shared services, through a single sign-on solution called Federated Identity (ID) Management. This infrastructure technology allows members at participating institutions in Canada to access a central catalogue of services and resources, without having to enter their login credentials multiple times.

One such service available through single sign-on is Cybera'€™s Rapid Access Cloud. Users of this cloud (whose institutions have enabled Federated ID) can automatically log in to their account and access data storage and processing resources over their computer, using just their institution credentials.

Over the past year, Cybera has also worked with CANARIE to create a new Identity Provider installation tool for members of CAF. This tool will make it faster and more cost-effective for institutions to implement single sign-on, by simplifying how it is deployed.

Cybera is now looking to continue discussions among Alberta'€™s public sector organizations around the adoption and future needs of Federated ID in Alberta. These efforts began last year with a workshop held by Cybera and CANARIE at the 2014 Cyber Summit. Over 50 partners in the government and educational space came out to Banff to discuss the Alberta vision for Federated ID Management in the province.

A follow-up workshop will be held on September 28 at the 2015 Cyber Summit in Banff. Participants will discuss what steps have been taken across Canada around Federated ID over the past year, and what the next actions need to be in Alberta to deliver high-value services through Federated ID. The workshop facilitators are also seeking feedback to determine the catalogue of services that Cybera could help provide that would be accessible via Federated ID Management.

To register for the upcoming workshop, please visit here.


About Cybera
Cybera is a not-for-profit technology-neutral organization responsible for accelerating technology adoption in Alberta. Its core role is to oversee the development and operations of Alberta'€™s cyberinfrastructure the advanced system of networks and computers that keeps government, educational institutions, not-for-profits, business incubators and entrepreneurs at the forefront of technological change.