This summer, the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) became the first non-post-secondary education institution in Alberta to offer eduroam, a world-wide roaming internet access service. This means any staff or students from an eduroam-connected institution — such as NAIT, the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, and Concordia University of Edmonton — who have eduroam set up on their phone or laptop will automatically connect to the internet when they enter an EPL branch.
The benefits of this service are not just greater convenience for the patrons of the 21 library branches in the city and the library staff (who can expect to field fewer questions about wifi access). The new eduroam connection also creates a safer online experience for end-users, as this is the first secure wireless connection that EPL has offered to the public.
The connection comes as CANARIE and its provincial Research and Education Network partners, including Cybera in Alberta, look to expand the reach of eduroam to more public libraries and museums. The addition of EPL (only the second library in all of Canada to join) brings the total number of Canadian connected eduroam sites to over 150. Globally, more than 100 countries take part in eduroam, with 17,000+ eduroam hotspots, including airports, train stations, and even vending machines.
Eduroam was developed by the global research and education community to do away with the administrative headache of how to create secure internet access for visiting academics. Previously, this required allocating extra resources to either providing and supporting temporary login accounts on a person-by-person basis (which can be time-consuming and expensive), or offering the use of public guest accounts, which come with their own security vulnerabilities. Eduroam creates one secure login account that can be utilized around the globe.
In Canada, eduroam is facilitated by CANARIE through its Canadian Access Federation, which supports more than 10 million eduroam logins per month.
Geoffrey Watt, the Systems Analyst for EPL, said he found the process of setting up eduroam straight-forward. Within hours of connecting the library branches to eduroam, he noticed that hundreds of logins had already been made, which meant that the quiet, behind-the-scenes technology was already working correctly.
Cybera and CANARIE are now looking for other public institutions in Alberta — including municipalities — to join eduroam. For more information, and to see if your organization is eligible to join the Canadian Access Federation, and connect to eduroam, contact Cybera or visit CANARIE's website.