Networks

Jisc ‘Govroam’ Aims To Simplify Public Sector Wi-Fi Connectivity

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The service, which has formally launched after months of testing, automatically signs users into compatible Wi-Fi networks

Jisc, a not-for-profit UK education and research digital specialist, has formally launched a govroam, an automated Wi-Fi roaming service for the public sector.

Govroam is based on Jisc’s eduroam, which offers similar capabilities to the further and higher education and research sector, running on the Janet national research and education network and supporting 1.6 million unique devices per month.

Automatic sign-in

The service allows users to install a profile on a device that automatically logs onto any network with govroam support, Jisc said.

“Various aspects of the public sector face the same challenges in supporting a mobile workforce today as the education sector solved 15 years ago through the adoption of eduroam,” Jisc said in a statemenet on the eduroam website.

Digital government, GDSIt said standardised Wi-Fi roaming should save staff time currently spent on arranging for connectivity and issuing temporary credentials while reducing wireless network procurement costs.

The launch follows testing at a significant number of sites including 250 in Kent and a similar number in Yorkshire and Humberside, including multi-tenanted sites in Leeds.

Eduroam was aligned with the public services networks in both counties and is also being used at some sites in London and elsewhere.

NHS interest

Jisc is now working with third-party providers to roll eduroam out to about 1,700 sites in Kent, including the county’s entire PSN, and a higher number in Yorkshire, said Jisc head of network access Mark O’Leary.

He said other organisations working with Jisc about take-up include the Scottish Wide Area Network and Sussex, Hampshire and Suffolk authorities.

Implementation has been organised to focus separately on healthcare, local government and emergency services and Jisc is targeting the NHS for its most ambitious initial growth, projecting the service could be used on 15 to 20 percent of its potential sites within the first year, O’Leary said.

NetworksThe target is 5 to 10 percent in local government and somewhat lower for emergency services, he said.

Central government connectivity

Available through G-Cloud, govroam is priced £3,000 for individual organisations, £10,000 for multiple-tenant bodies and £36,000 for larger organisations.

Jisc said it has been developing govroam alongside the Government Digital Service’s (GDS) GovWifi project, which targets central government and provides automatic sign-in for users in government buildings.

O’Leary said the two services complement one another, with govroam supplied to staff by employers while GovWifi can be set up by individual users via SMS, including members of the public who are making use of public-sector premises.

Jisc said the service should become self-sustaining once there’s a critical mass of participating sites, and that beyond sustainability levels it plans to re-invest the income or reduce the tariff.

Govroam is compatible with eduroam, which could give eduroam users additional connectivity options in public-sector spaces such as libraries, sports centres and government offices, Jisc said.

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