Non-profit, member-based IT support for research & educational institutions

Exploring Access to Resources Using Digital Certificates

Mellon Supported Project

In early summer 2001 CREN formed an organizing committee of interested and knowledgeable individuals to assist CREN in meeting the objective of the Mellon Grant: to form five or six pilots designed to deploy digital certificates across campuses as a means to ensure secure access to external content providers.

The committee members have met regularly over the summer and into the fall and have finalized an operating plan, which is culminating in a pilot-planning session to be held among institutions and content providers on December 1 in San Antonio, Texas. The purpose of this one-day seminar is to bring interested parties together to discuss their current procedures for ensuring secure access and their readiness to test and migrate to a digital certificate environment.

Rather than invest in expensive and time-consuming background education on digital certificates for all interested parties, the committee advised we only target institutions that are ready and able to form pilots in the immediate future. The committee worked closely with CREN to identify institutions and content providers already knowledgeable about digital certificates and technically able to implement a pilot should they chose to do so.

This work was completed by late August and the committee and CREN rapidly planned a meeting for institutions and content providers, to be held on October 1 in Austin, Texas. CREN sent out invitations and had a very favorable response. A total of 33 participants from 11 institutions and 3 content providers were planning to attend. Working closely with the committee members, CREN simultaneously developed an agenda for the meeting and templates for institutions and content providers to use in presenting their state-of-readiness to the other meeting attendees,

Unfortunately, these plans were derailed after the September 11 events. The October 1 meeting was to be held in conjunction with an Internet2 meeting. When that was postponed, CREN felt obliged to follow suit. After polling everyone about possible dates and places for rescheduling, the committee found that the earliest possible date to accommodate most parties would be December 1 in San Antonio, Texas. The change seemed to have little negative impact on the enthusiasm of both attendees and committee members. We expect 26 participants to attend from 11 institutions and 2 content providers. In fact, we are using the time to develop more support materials for the planning of the pilots.

As the date for the December 1 meeting is rapidly approaching, CREN continues to put together the final pieces for the meeting. Everyone is excited about the prospect and anticipates that the meeting will conclude with several verbal commitments from interested parties and concrete plans to put together alliances for pilot programs.

Robert Brentrup
Associate Director of Technical Services
Dartmouth College

Jacqueline Brown
Director, Technology Outreach & Partnerships
University of Washington

Dan Greenstein
Digital Library Federation

Larry Levine
Director of Computing
Dartmouth College

Cliff Lynch
Executive Director
Coalition for Networked Information

David Millman
Director of Information Services Research & Development
Columbia University

Susan Perry
College Librarian and Director
Mount Holyoke College

Steven L. Worona
Director of Policy & Networking Programs