Remember that first day you went to school or university. Exiting, new friends and a whole new world openend up for you. These week that happens to millions of eager, baffled and starry eyed kids and students all over the world.
And when they are registered at school and get their books and scheduals, they receive something very valuable: their EduRoam username and password. It was invented & developed in the Netherlands by Klaas Wierenga and his team from SURFnet, the NL National Research and Education Network (NREN). From Holland its implementation and use in the populus of students on all levels, educators and R&D whizz kids spread to most of the civilised countries of the world.
The value of EduRoam is that you only have to sign in once to a Wi-Fi access point on premises of an university or school, from your laptop or smartphone and then you can enter Wi-Fi everywhere in the world where EduRoam is implemented by just opening your laptop. Or by just switching your smartphone on. So when you visit another education building in Farawayistan, on research conferences, exchange programs or even on your holidays; you can get online. Yes it was also implemented on the huge @SHA2017 hacker camp, for students and academics present. No more asking for local passwords and logging on with case sensitive hieroglyphs you mislaid or forgot. In essence the student is introduced on that “first day’ to The Seventh Sense (serious connectivity which alters the character of things), vital for the rest of his/her life.
How is that accomplished safely? By strong network authentication. When you open your laptop a link is briefly set up to your own university or school to verify that you are registered there and then you laptop gets access. This takes a few milliseconds. You loose easy function when you graduate, since you are then removed from the schools register.
Why only for students and scholars? It is payed for by the ministries of education in each country, that is why. And this population is a “closed usergroup” in the sense of telecom laws.
In several countries, like Belgium and The Netherlands, a similar but separate network construction is being rolled out for Civil Servants called “GovRoam”. The civil servants can then access networks in each government buildings in the country. But they do need passwords for the databases and computersystems attached to those networks when they visit.
Klaas Wierenga the inventor of EduRoam is one of Holland Heros, we should be very proud of. Strange that his invention is famous everywhere in the world except in The Netherlands and used by hundreds of millions. Same happened with for instance Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the huge LOFAR radio telescope. Yes, invented in NL !!!
So EduRoam should be celebrated at these First Days in new Schools when the kids get their first serious fast NETWORK ACCESS :-))
jaap van till, TheConnectivist
PS. The formal names are ‘ eduroam ‘ and ‘ govroam ‘ (geeks and coders know that SSID’s are case sensitive), but I judged writing these two words with CapiTals makes them better understandable for the general public.