The eduGAIN steering group voted last week to admit the South African Identity Federation, SAFIRE, as its 41st member and the first fully participating member from Africa.
In simple terms, eduGAIN it is the web equivalent of the eduroam wireless roaming service — it is an academic inter-federation with 41 member countries from around the world. South Africa’s membership of eduGAIN will provide local academics and researchers with an easy way to log into over a thousand participating services worldwide using their home organisation’s username and password. Federated identity services play an increasingly critical role in facilitating access to big science projects, and so South Africa’s participation in this space is an important milestone towards allowing South African scientists to collaborate in international research.
Locally, SAFIRE will make it easier for universities and research organisations to collaborate in a wide variety of fields, from teaching and learning through to interdisciplinary research. As it grows, SAFIRE should help the research and education sector realise economies of scale and savings in systems integration costs (in fact, thanks to eduGAIN, many of these integrations may already be done). The federation can also provide participants with more granular mechanisms to control access to expensive electronic resources, such as those provided by university libraries.
Anyone wishing to learn more about identity federation and what it can do for your campus is encouraged to visit https://learn.nsrc.org/fedidm. Information for South African research and education institutions wishing to participate in SAFIRE is available at https://safire.ac.za/participants/idp/.