Aside from staff and students, university campuses are visited by many different people every day - all expecting to be able to connect to the internet.
Making wifi available to all is not straightforward, but allowing seamless access to regular public sector visitors would make life much easier.
Maybe a local MP holds surgeries on campus to support students, like in Birmingham. Perhaps an NHS medical practice is based on campus, or there are regular visits from a blood donation scheme. Community police officers could also be based on campus, such as an initiative funded by the University of Northampton.
All these functions can be made more efficient and delivered cost effectively by making the “zero touch” connectivity option of our govroam service available to university visitors.
Public sector staff coming to campus can work faster and deliver a wider range of services to staff and students by accessing network resources in the same way they would when back at base. It also saves the university time not having to validate, issue and revoke temporary credentials for each individual every time they visit.
Education organisations are at the heart of their communities and play a role in many large-scale community activities. As a result, they frequently liaise with other public services in both the planning and delivery of events. From a Rag Week to a Tour de France stage visiting town, there may be a role for a shared network to help bring the various parties together and coordinate efficient and safe delivery on the day.
The education sector already has eduroam, a pioneering federated roaming service that we developed more than 15 years ago, which has delivered huge savings for, and has transformed collaboration between, colleges and universities.
It’s sister service, govroam, is an exercise in technology transfer by Jisc to realise those same benefits in the wider public sector of the NHS, government and blue light services.
The two roaming services are separated in governance and at the infrastructure level due to the differences in funding model and stakeholder concerns.
We strongly recommend that education organisations with eduroam also carry the visited-only form of govroam alongside it.
There’s potential for a virtuous circle in the world of federated roaming, with educational sites increasing the available footprint of govroam, and public sector venues similarly offering eduroam coverage in relevant locations.
London offers a great example, where the lobbying group Connectivity for London encouraged universities in the capital to deploy govroam alongside existing eduroam services to help bolster the case for the borough councils to carry govroam, because there would already be coverage across the capital for them to benefit from.
That engagement has led to some of those councils deploying more instances of eduroam at relevant venues, which in turn has increased the connectivity opportunities for staff and students as they consume council services and facilities in their borough.
So, in summary, it’s in the interests of a campus to offer a connectivity option to the wider public sector in its region, as it opens the doors to mutual benefits aligned with its core mission. The good news is the effort needed to realise these benefits is minimal if the infrastructure exists for eduroam.