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Managing Identities in the Digital Age

Jan 26, 2016, by Elizabeth Boten
Tags: Frontpage News, Identity Management, TIER, Trust & Identity, Trust and Identity in Education and Research

by Klara Jelinkova, Vice President & CIO of Rice University and chair of the TIER Community Investor Council

As the World Economic Forum in Davos took place in late January 2016, there were many topics on the agenda. One resonates closely with the mission of TIER. The topic is under the list of sessions aligned with the Fourth Industrial Revolution track and is titled: "How can we manage identities in the digital age?" Link to the report is available.

Even though this specific article talks about trust in financial transactions, many of the concepts translate to higher education. Those concepts include vetting, maintenance and exchange of identity information. In our current model, institutions provide identity information and the InCommon identity federation enables the exchange. As powerful as this mechanism is, it is also limited by the fact that InCommon is a federation based in the U.S. and as such by itself cannot fully support the global reach and ambition of U.S.-based institutions. These ambitions are driven by new partnerships in digital education and research that require instrumentation across the globe, amongst other drivers.

To address this limitation InCommon entered into a partnership with GÉANT to be a member of eduGAIN. GÉANT is the leading pan-European collaboration on e-infrastructure and services for research and education, interconnecting national research and education networks (NRENs) across Europe. eduGAIN is an international interfederation service interconnecting research and education identity federations. These identity federations not only include EU and U.S.-based federations but also Asia-PAC and Latin America-based federations. This step is a key component for our vision for Trust and Identity in Education and Research (TIER).

Just as with the current work, InCommon's role will be to enable the exchange. The control over services and service enablement will remain with our member institutions. Because our InCommon agreements were very U.S.-centric, a set of changes was needed to reflect the global reach of InCommon. These revisions to the InCommon procedures and agreements have been endorsed by InCommon Steering with input of university and industry attorneys. These changes lay the groundwork for TIER to better support the increasingly global education and research mission of our institutions. Many thanks to Internet2 staff and the InCommon Technical Advisory Committee for their work over the last three years to get us to this point.

Klara Jelinkova on behalf of TCIC and InCommon Steering Committee