Corp Comm Connects


April 12, 2017
Leah Wong

The City of Mississauga is launching a new virtual campus program to provide students remote access to their post-secondary institutions from city facilities. The new program is just one of the city’s initiatives leveraging technology to improve public connectivity and streamline city services.

Launching May 1 in partnership with University of Toronto Mississauga, the virtual campus allows postsecondary students to securely access their online school resources using public WiFi in Mississauga facilities. Eduroam, short for educational roaming, is a worldwide service used by schools in more than 80 countries.

“Eduroam is a front-door to universities and post-secondary institutions around the world,” Mississauga chief information officer Shawn Slack told NRU. “So if you were from Oxford in the U.K. and you came here and went to our library, you could log into your secure [school] network directly.”

Slack said this allows students studying away from home or students on exchange in Mississauga to remotely access their school resources in the same way they would on campus.

The program benefits from the city’s recent expansion of free WiFi in civic buildings and Celebration Square, as part of Mississauga’s IT Master Plan, adopted by council in 2015.

Over the next three years, the city is working to create district networks in its business improvement areas, allowing visitors to access free WiFi along these commercial corridors. Local businesses within the BIAs will be able to engage with customers using the public Wi-Fi as well. For example, people that connect to the public WiFi in Streetsville could receive notification from the businesses they frequent about promotions when they are connected to the district network.

“From a small business perspective there’s a bit of an attraction around [gaining] a stronger connection with the people that are in the public space, and the opportunity to drive and attract, more business,” said Slack.

The city is also planning to introduce environmental sensors that will measure air quality, temperature and humidity within one of the BIAs. Slack said the city will make the information collected publicly accessible through its open data catalogue.

Slack said the city can also use sensor technology to adjust its service levels. For example, sensor technology is being introduced in public parks as a way to track usage patterns and foot traffic. Staff will be able to use this data to streamline garbage collection, by scheduling more frequent pickup at busier parks, and adjusting maintenance schedules.

As part of the IT Master Plan, technology-related projects were identified and financial analysis completed for each of the city’s service areas— including transit, recreation, parks and culture. This database of potential projects, Slack said, allows staff to invest in technology, such as the expansion of the fibre network, while other infrastructure projects are underway.