Yorkshire and Humber Public Services Network

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A critical part of the Local Digital Roadmaps (LDR) on which the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Programmes are based, is the development of integrated teams to deliver Health and Social Care in the community.

These teams will need to be able to work seamlessly wherever they are, and that includes in multi-tenanted buildings, such as shared health and council premises, and when visiting other agencies such as council offices, Police Stations and hospitals across the region for meetings and case reviews etc.

In order to provide this service various regions started developing their own regional solutions, which were not compatible with other areas and therefore didn’t support users roaming between regions.

What was needed was a national solution, and for the first time agreement has been reached across all of local public services, including the NHS and Central Government, to collaborate and implement a truly national roaming solution.

govroam is that solution and forms not only a significant part of the STP solution but for many other uses, providing a secured connection to the Internet to a national closed user group, namely government officials and their representatives.

Based on the established and internationally successful Eduroam service, and with the national elements being run by Jisc,
govroam provides both a wired and wireless solution where authentication is controlled by each user’s home organisation. It is a service based on reciprocity and trust; offered by each participating organisation on the basis that it won’t charge visiting users using the service because they won’t charge when its users are visiting elsewhere.

And since the user is re-authenticated every time they connect to
govroam by their home organisation and thus access can be revoked immediately should that user leave by removing their credentials, everyone has the confidence that all users are current bona fide users working on behalf of the citizen.

govroam does not use a captive portal, such as used by many public access WiFi solutions you can find in hotels, fast food and coffee outlets, as these landing pages can be duplicated by unscrupulous operators to capture the user credentials in what’s called a ‘Man in the Middle’ attack. As an added security risk, in order to access the captive portal page using the user’s browser, the client device must be issued with an IP address, which of course makes it active on the network, and therefore, if in the wrong hands, capable of being used to try and access information.

Instead the
govroam authentication process is completed securely prior to the client device being issued with an IP address and therefore only active on the network once access permission has been granted. This authentication can be made completely automatically and without any user intervention.

Once attached to the
govroam service the user is able to launch a VPN session back to their home network and work as if connected to their local network, with all traffic being encrypted across the Internet for security. Even this connection can be established automatically using VPN clients such as Microsoft Direct Access, so the user need do nothing to get a connection back to their resources. No more asking for WiFi passwords or time limited credentials. The user can connect wherever the govroam service is available

Along with London and Kent PSN programmes the YHPSN is delighted to be an early adopter and registered as the Regional Federation Operator (RFO) for
govroam in the Yorkshire and Humber region. There had been a localised service offering similar services across 7 trusts in the south of the region run from the Doncaster Royal Infirmary. This had been named ‘NHSRoam’ and it made sense for the YHPSN to ask them to run the Regional RADIUS Proxy Service (RRPS) element, and convert the trusts to the new govroam service.

govroam is now confirmed as the standard for Localities, Health, Care and Local Government organisations.

The service went live in January 2017 in the Y&H region, and the first partners are already using the service, with staff in Wakefield Council and Mid Yorks Hospitals Trust able to work in both organisations’ buildings, and new partners coming on board all the time. Currently the YHPSN has over 50 partners in the region signed up to use the
govroam service.

It is the intention that every public services building eventually be govroam enabled, and you can watch our progress by monitoring our govroam sites map
here on the YHPSN website.
And an excellent example of the difference
govroam will make, written by Dr Marcus Baw, someone right at the sharp end of health, can be read here.

If you want to know more about the govroam solution and what your organisation needs to do to participate please contact us here.

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