HAS University of Applied Sciences Empowers Campus-Wide GIS
Located in 's-Hertogenbosch, a city in the Netherlands, HAS University of Applied Sciences is an independent institution specializing in agriculture, food, environment, horticulture, and nature studies. With more than 3,000 degree-seeking and professional students, HAS University consistently ranks as a top midsize university for applied sciences in the Netherlands due to its rigorous mission to provide real-life experiences for the students and promote lifelong learning. At its core, the university focuses on providing entrepreneurial study with day-to-day business practices, often having students collaborate with both local and international businesses in their coursework.
The university's Applied Geo-Information Science Program continues to fulfill the institution's mission by preparing the next generation of successful geospatial experts for diverse careers. Throughout the four-year bachelor's degree program, students learn how to combine geography, media, and design into innovative products and services. In 2016, program organizers saw that—with changing trends in business needs, the available amount of data, and technological advances—geographic information system (GIS) instruction could benefit programs campus-wide. In keeping with the university's mission, program leaders sought to enable campus-wide access to use GIS technology.
Challenge: HAS University wanted to extend the use of GIS technology and curricula in disciplines outside its Applied Geo-Information Science Program. To traditionally do so would be a time-consuming and inefficient project for the university's IT department. An online option that could be implemented campus-wide was needed.
Solution: The partnership of HAS University's IT department and Esri Netherlands worked to collaborate and execute a campus-wide migration to ArcGIS technology by implementing enterprise login, or single sign-on.
Result: With the implementation of single sign-on, universal access to ArcGIS Online provided both students and faculty more opportunities to enhance their GIS skill set and collaborate on projects based on real-world experiences. Additionally, the IT department reduced the time spent providing assistance to GIS users.
HAS University's IT policy requires full integration of all software used by the students. Consequently, connecting student accounts to online GIS software with individualized passwords proved to be a time-consuming process for the university's IT department during setup and security maintenance. The old model also discouraged collaborative projects, as students couldn't readily share data with one another. If students and faculty outside the Applied Geo-Information Science Program were to truly benefit from GIS, the technology needed to be easier for the IT department to access and maintain.
HAS University implemented enterprise login, or single sign-on (SSO), by linking its ArcGIS Online system with the university's Microsoft Active Directory (AD) system. Now students and faculty across campus can use their AD accounts to access ArcGIS Online at any time and on any device they choose. With SSO, ArcGIS technology is one more application students can access along with their email, datasets, school apps, and so forth, without the need for secondary authentication.
"Before SSO, we were individually connecting students to their accounts and the ArcGIS Online environment. It cost a lot of time and was the biggest technical challenge we had in moving online a few years ago," said Koen Verschuren, supervisor for HAS University's Applied Geo-Information Science program.
Since the implementation of SSO, not only has technical assistance time from IT significantly decreased but also the number of ArcGIS Online users has grown across departments and disciplines.
"With SSO and the straightforward interface, it is much easier for students to experiment with the software—we're especially seeing more non-GIS course users using ArcGIS Online," said Marien de Bakker, senior lecturer and project manager for the Applied Geo-Information Science program.
A key factor in successfully enabling enterprise login was the collaborative relationship between HAS University of Applied Sciences—the IT department, information security staff, and the program leads—and Esri Netherlands.
"I have always really liked all the data that is available with ArcGIS and that the software operates in a way that students can easily work with it," continued de Bakker. "And I'm very happy with Esri Netherlands in how the company has changed from being a software provider for the university to a more integral solution provider."
Another positive result of enabling enterprise login was the updates to the curriculum and what students can achieve with their lessons.
"The user interface is enormously easier compared to 15 years ago, and so lessons that would, say, take 80 or 120 hours to learn can now be cut down to 4 hours with ArcGIS Online," de Bakker continued.
De Bakker added that there has been an immense growth of students now using the software to approach real-world challenges.
"We're seeing students working through harder societal and business questions using ArcGIS Online. The questions are not, 'How do I use this technology?' but instead, 'What questions and challenges can I now answer with this technology?'" said de Bakker.
With the growing number of users, de Bakker hopes to continue seeing students and faculty of diverse backgrounds embrace GIS technology for their careers. To date, students who have graduated from the Applied Geo-Information Science Program have gone on to accept roles in city planning, consultancy, government, education, engineering, public safety, utilities, and real estate. De Bakker credits the program's educational material, internships, and recent SSO integration with ArcGIS Online for ensuring continued student success at HAS University.