The development of dedicated network infrastructure and services in Belarus is bringing benefits to the country’s cultural conservation, as well as to its research and education community. What does BASNET, the national research and academic network, see as the main highlights of its participation in the first five-year EU-funded EaPConnect project?
Building a high-speed network telecommunications infrastructure for science and connecting with the GÉANT pan-European research and education network in 2016 came at a time of increasing need for greater capacity and tailored services in Belarus. Following this increased capacity from 1 to 5 Gbps, usage doubled up to May 2017 and so the connectivity was increased again, from 5 to 10 Gbps. The telecommunication infrastructure of BASNET was significantly modernised, allowing research and education users to receive non-restricted network access to the pan-European GÉANT network and the Internet. BASNET’s network security functions were extended with new next-generation firewall hardware that was procured through EaPConnect.
In 2018, a dedicated 1 Gbps connection channel to the GÉANT network was organised by BASNET for the Institute for Nuclear Problems of Belarusian State University (INP BSU). As a result, the institute’s scientists had the opportunity to use the computational power of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) and make their contribution to international collaborative data processing for high-energy particle physics experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).The network also provided high-speed connectivity for Space Day, an event to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among the general public.
increase in connectivity
between 2015 - 2020
for data flow (Gbps)
BASNET’s cloud platform was developed based on servers procured through EaPConnect, providing users with virtual servers and storage resources. Within the project’s ‘Enlighten Your Research’ programme, cloud storage resources and access to European PRACE supercomputing resources were organised by BASNET for a research project on biomedical image analysis and Deep Learning technologies in medical diagnosis and treatment. The research team from the United Institute of Informatics Problems of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus can now perform the majority of their experiments and share new knowledge with European partners, helping to keep personal medical data secure while improving automation of medical diagnosis.
Within the 2016 ‘Enlighten Your Research’ programme, BASNET’s cloud storage resources were allocated to a project that created a mobile app to inform tourists about the history of cities. As a result of the support it received from BASNET and EaPConnect, the project team, from the Speech Recognition and Synthesis Laboratory of UIIP NASB, established links with CLARIN, the European Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure, creating a Belarusian CLARIN knowledge centre and pursuing various activities that will help to keep the Belarusian language alive and visible.
GÉANT and other services
In the past five years, several services from GÉANT and its community of research and education networks have taken root and begun to blossom in Belarus. In particular, the eduroam WiFi roaming service, the ‘LoLa’ data transmission technology, and support for the preservation of cultural heritage through digitisation.
The eduroam roaming service was extended significantly, reaching around 7 times more service locations by 2020 than five years earlier. Among the places served is the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics (BSUIR), one of the biggest IT educational institutions in Belarus. Over 16 thousand students per year now benefit from the easier connectivity that eduroam brings, allowing them to “break the boundaries of communication and connectivity when visiting campuses and conferences throughout Europe” according to former Vice-Rector of BSUIR, Helena Zhivitskaya.
‘LoLa’ technology was introduced in Belarus through EaPConnect, allowing Belarusian musicians to perform in real time with artists located in Estonia for a 2017 ‘Music Without Borders‘ concert. BASNET staff participated in LoLa training and international workshops that focused on emerging trends and technologies in distance learning and remote collaborative performance, honing their skills to support future LoLa activities in Belarus.
Thanks to collaboration between BASNET and EaPConnect partner PSNC, the Polish national research and education networking organisation, a team from the Yakub Kolas Central Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus have started to digitise 3500+ books in the culturally-significant Radziwills Library collection. PSNC’s dLibra e-publication software and BASNET’s data storage resources are helping this UNESCO-listed library to survive and become more widely available online.
Thanks to the EaPConnect project, BASNET network has become a basis in the development of reliable interaction between already available and new computing resources, information funds and the databases of scientific, technical and educational information in Belarus. It is just impossible to progress in current research work without provided connectivity and access to global scientific and educational networks in modern society.”
EaPConnect achievements video with subtitles in Belarusian
Anticipating outcomes of the second project
‘EU4Digital: Connecting Research and Education Communities’, the second EaPConnect project started on 1 July 2020 and will build on the achievements of the first project. The project partners shared their hopes for the second project in the GÉANT CONNECT magazine.
What does this mean for Belarus?
BASNET will become a more powerful and recognised partner for supporting national and international projects of R&E in Belarus, with greater network coverage and more services implemented for the benefit of researchers, students and lecturers. Thousands of researchers from Belarus would be able to access EOSC and European e-infrastructures in their projects using GÉANT and BASNET.”