NORDUnet provides a wide range of services for the Nordic research and education community, both core network services, above-the-net services, and logistics-related services, both highly technical and non-technical in nature.
NORDUnet’s international engagement includes reaching out to countries where the NREN is still very young, or even non-existing as a formal organization, to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration.
In many countries, all over the world, science and educational institutes are already connected to the local R&E Network, as is the case in the Nordic countries. But there are still research facilities and educational institutions that suffer from more or less poor Internet connectivity. This makes it difficult for local scientists and lecturers to share their data and to keep up with colleagues from better connected areas.
Vice versa, for Nordic scientists and lecturers who have an interest in working with their counterparts in countries with poor Internet connectivity, it is hard to access resources in these countries or even to do a successful video call with their colleagues abroad.
Knowledge sharing with mature NRENs helps emerging NRENs build and operate a network in their own country and to create fast and economically viable connections across country borders to the global fabric of R&E networks.
The vehicle used by NORDUnet to promote such knowledge sharing is typically an invitation to a number of carefully selected individuals from a number of emerging NRENs to participate actively in NORDUnet events such as conferences and workshops, combined with meetings and site visits specifically designed for that particular group of e-NREN representatives.
Not only do the concrete take-aways from such visits include specific knowledge about complex technical matters, ways of working, etc., they also count the not so measurable notion of contacts. By connecting a group of people from different emerging NRENs an informal but vital social network has been formed. People get to know each other and each other’s challenges, thus creating a platform for collaboration between them, not necessarily involving NORDUnet.
In return, NORDUnet gets access to people and NRENs that may hold information and special scientific equipment that would otherwise not be easy to come by, and get to participate in local conferences and workshops.
The Emerging NREN Program is not an attempt to tell emerging NRENs what to do nor to do the job for them. Rather, the program is meant to foster global knowledge sharing, and support emerging NRENs in supporting themselves, and via our vast experience to help in establishing local and regional communities.
As an example of a concrete spin-off from the knowledge sharing programme an intercontinental collaboration supporting the regional NREN community in Asia came into being.
In order to facilitate distance learning in Asian countries, the Bangladesh NREN BdREN, who had participated in the NORDUnet e-NREN program, initiated a new collaboration project, which they successfully submitted to Asi@Connect for co-funding. The project was in short called: fDLuDCf (facilitating Distance Learning using a Digital Conferencing facility). Indeed, the project did result in distant learning facilities in the region – and a lot more.
To begin with, BdREN partnered with NORDUnet, for expertise in running a multimedia conferencing environment. Next, BdREN involved NRENs from the APAN region, i.e. from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan.
They jointly submitted the project proposal, which was accepted. In 2021, the project came to a successful end. This has sparked BdREN to submit a successor project to fDLuDCf under CFP5 of Asi@Connect: BeLISAC (Building e-Learning Infrastructure in South Asian Countries under TEIN network), with partners in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, and Cambodia. The project has come out of the CFP as a successful one, and is expected to formally start on 1 March 2022.