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Smart city story: Free secure internet access

Enabling free seamless and secure internet access service for post-secondary students, faculty, and staff through eduroam

To support our commitment to being a smart city, in the summer of 2021, The City of Calgary enabled secure Wi-Fi access at the Municipal Building for post-secondary students, faculty, and staff. For example, students from educational institutions such as Alberta University of the Arts, Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, SAIT, and the University of Calgary who have eduroam set up on their phone or laptop will automatically connect to the internet when they are on the plaza level of the Municipal Building. Some post-secondary institutions may additionally grant students access to course material so it would be just like they were sitting in their physical classroom.

“The pandemic has made it very challenging and stressful for students, from navigating remote learning to staying connected with school communities, friends and family,” says Jan Bradley, Chief Information Technology Officer at the City of Calgary. “By enabling eduroam, we’re hoping to increase access while minimizing the administrative effort of offering more space for students to safely connect to the internet without worrying about burning through data.”

eduroam (education roaming) is a global service facilitating secure, global roaming access for the international research and education community. Once students have it activated, they can connect to the 'eduroam' Wi-Fi networks and get online at over 450 hotspots across Canada, now including The City’s Municipal Building plaza level.

Around the world, there are more than 100 countries offering 30,000+ eduroam hotspots on campuses and in public locations such as airports, train stations, and more, with additional spots being continually added. In fact, eduroam is accessed by thousands of students, faculty and staff from many post-secondary institutions around the world.

The City’s role as an eduroam service provider is a result of our participation in the Canadian Access Federation (CAF). We collaborated with Cybera and CANARIE, the national operator of eduroam in Canada, to enable eduroam.

“The goal of getting more Albertans to be better connected requires collaborative solutions, and municipalities like the City of Calgary are playing an important role,” says Barb Carra, President and CEO of Cybera, Alberta’s not-for-profit technology accelerator. “Having access to seamless and secure connectivity also ensures better and more equitable access to education in an increasingly mobile and off-campus world.”

Once our Information Security team performed the necessary risk assessments, Information Technology was able to leverage existing network equipment to deploy the eduroam Wi-Fi network with no additional costs. With this initial hotspot successfully established, The City will continue exploring the potential to add more City locations in the future, make it easier for students to connect seamlessly, wherever they are. For more information on this initiative, please contact Monique Nesset, Smart Cities, Program Manager.