New free Wi-Fi system available in Surrey for university students, faculty, and researchers
The eduroam service is offered in Surrey public libraries, recreation centres, Surrey Arts Centre, and City Hall
The City of Surrey announced the implementation of eduroam, a Wi-Fi system now available in all Surrey libraries, recreation centres, the Surrey Arts Centre, and City Hall.
The eduroam service is free, available worldwide, and designed with particular dedication to accessing a higher educational or research institution’s online resources. It is offered through BCNET, which is partnering with municipalities, public libraries, school districts, and airports to “offer the service across British Columbia,” according to the press release.
In Canada, the service is managed by CANARIE, the federal partner in the country’s National Research and Education Network (NREN).
Amy Ashmore, director of collections and technology for Surrey Libraries, says the service will allow students to connect to the digital resources of their university from personal devices as easily as it is to get access on campus.
“Once you have eduroam set up on your device you would be connected as if you were at [school], so you could access all of the library resources,” she says.
Accessible resources include electronic materials like e-journals and e-books that would normally be exclusive to post-secondary campus networks.
The global availability of eduroam means students from outside the Lower Mainland can use the Wi-Fi network. eduroam is available in over 100 countries and 10,000 locations worldwide, according to the press release.
Ashmore says Surrey would benefit from the service because the city is “geographically large” and has many post-secondary institutions. And like many other wireless networks, eduroam is also designed to be usable from the first connection onwards, eliminating the need to reconnect upon return.
“Once it’s set up, you can connect automatically when you come to the library. You can just open up your laptop and start working right away…. It’s kind of ‘set it and forget it,’” Ashmore says.
This gives eduroam an additional edge over the publicly available city Wi-Fi, which needs to be reconnected with every visit.
Ashmore adds that with Surrey’s comparatively younger population to the rest of the Lower Mainland, having a quick and seamless connection to the new Wi-Fi network was an important aspect in the decision.
While the number of students using public libraries as studying spaces was already high, Ashmore says more will use public libraries since students will have the means to use both university- and library-exclusive materials, such as databases, to aid in their schoolwork.
Following a pilot roll-out at two locations, eduroam has been installed in all 10 Surrey Libraries.
“We were surprised by the amount of usage right off the bat,” Ashmore says.
After only 30 days, she says there have been over 1,500 unique users of the educational network. The City Centre branch was singled out as having the highest number of users so far.
Ashmore says other libraries in the Lower Mainland should integrate eduroam into their systems as well, thanks to the positive experience of working with the Wi-Fi system’s team coupled with the results of the implementation.
The network is available at over 190 locations in B.C. and has 450 sites in Canada, according to the press release.
With the eduroam system in place, Surrey’s population of post-secondary students have expanded options as to where they wish to do schoolwork and study.
“We are certainly interested in making Surrey Libraries that inviting and accessible place for students,” Ashmore says.