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Call to Action: The international science community needs help responding to COVID-19

The international science community has asked for help in connecting researchers and scientists to collaborations that are rapidly forming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This call to help the science community is coming from a growing number of places, including our colleagues in North America and Europe.

One of the ways we do this is using federated access to resources: every day new clinical trials, grants, contracts, and research engagements are forming around the world. If institutions are not participating in federation, we are preventing researchers from accessing services they need to do their jobs quickly; conversely, by facilitating federation we enable access and immediate collaboration. Thus the request we’re getting is to facilitate more federated access as quickly as possible.

But federation isn’t only used for research: the same federated identity is used by a growing number of library information providers to facilitate access to publications, and there are growing calls for them to respond to COVID-19 too. By facilitating one service, we increase access to information, and the speed at which our libraries can respond too.

We currently have thirteen universities participating in the South African Identity Federation (SAFIRE); this means that roughly half of the academics and researchers in our country are jumping through unnecessary hoops in order to gain access to global research.

If your university isn’t yet participating in SAFIRE, our call to action is that you to prioritise this as part of your response to COVID-19. You can find out how to do this here. We’ll also happily answer any questions you may have.

If you are participating, we strongly encourage you to review the attributes you’re releasing and make sure you’re sending at least our recommended set. This set is the one used in global research, and facilitates our identifying you as supporting Research & Scholarship. You can see if you’re already doing this here.

South African Identity Federation