"Thanks to iotroam, we have regained control"
All devices on the network: "win-win situation"
A 'talking flower pot' for people with dementia, sensors that measure CO2 levels, robotic arms and alignment equipment. These are examples of devices that Summa College in Brabant was keen to incorporate into its own network. Network manager Dave van Roy explains how iotroam provided a solution for this.
Facts & figures
Full iotroam rollout in 2023 at all Summa College locaties.
devices connected to iotroam. This number is growing, with devices being added every month.
Summa College locations have iotroam active. At all locations where Summa College has wifi (eduroam), they also offer iotroam.
More and more devices need network connectivity to function. It is important for educational institutions to be able to connect these devices to their institution's network in a secure and traceable way. Before the advent of iotroam, this proved to be a difficult challenge.
"What happened was that employees started building their own networks. As a result, we as IT department lost the overview and control, while colleagues did ask us to solve problems within these networks," Van Roy says. That had to change. In 2019, Summa College began building a more structural solution to still connect these devices to the network. A few years later, Van Roy heard about iotroam during a SURF meeting and, after some exploratory talks, the educational institution switched over. Van Roy is also contributing his knowledge and experience to the further development of the service.
User-friendly self-service portal
Iotroam is a self-service portal in which students, teachers, staff and researchers easily connect their own devices themselves. To do so, an IT department must first grant rights. At Summa College, these rights apply to some of the employees.
"Employees no longer need to spend time and energy building their own network"
Van Roy says the introduction of iotroam went smoothly. "With us, the need within education is the main starting point for our services and this was a win-win situation for everyone. Employees now no longer have to spend time and energy building their own network. They are also less dependent on the IT department because they can get started themselves via the portal. As a department, we are again in control and no longer have to provide customisation or put out fires. The portal is a user-friendly system. We find that users get by with minimal explanation. Moreover, we are being unburdened by SURF, which is very valuable."
Summa College offers several MBO courses that use devices registered in iotroam. Think of the 'talking flower pot', a care robot that supports people with cognitive disabilities with spoken messages and instructions. Raspberry Pi's, applications within ICT training, and sensors for measuring CO2, humidity and temperature are also connected to Summa College's network via iotroam.
Incidentally, anyone who thinks iotroam is a replacement for SURF's eduroam network service is wrong. "Eduroam is aimed at individual users and allows them to connect to the network of the educational institution where they are with their own device. Iotroam is meant for devices that you cannot connect to eduroam because the manufacturer have not built in the protocols for that purpose. But they are so important for education and research that you still want to allow them into the network. Moreover, iotroam is all about registering the device itself, not a personal account."
When setting up iotroam, Summa College ensured that different devices cannot 'see' or influence each other. "For example, you don't want every user to be able to control the 3D printer, or the awnings hanging in front of the windows of our buildings. That's why the devices come out in different networks. Furthermore, we find it important that every user can work location-independent. That is why we offer both eduroam and iotroam wherever Summa College's wifi is active."
A final tip Van Roy would like to pass on is the importance of good communication. "First announce that iotroam is available, but also keep communicating about the possibilities of the self-service portal afterwards. You will see that more and more people will want to use it."
Text: Lyanneke Krauss
Photos: Sicco van Grieken