The past five years of participation in the EU-funded EaPConnect project have been eventful for GRENA, the Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association. Conferences, contests and an anniversary all helped to highlight the benefits that GRENA and the project bring to the research and education community in Georgia. So what were the highlights from GRENA’s point of view?
In 2016, a direct Internet link was established between Georgia and the pan-European GÉANT network, allowing researchers and students to participate in collaborative work with their peers in Europe and other parts of the world. Three years later, re-procurement of the network link led to an 80% drop in cost per Gigabits per second (Gbps) of data transmitted through the network, allowing GRENA to invest more in the development of services and skills to strengthen its support to its research and education communities.
drop in price
for data flow (Gbps)
eduroam service supporting student mobility
Georgia became a participant country in the global eduroam educational roaming WiFi service in 2016, making it available in various universities and research libraries. Cooperation with the Erasmus+ program significantly contributed to the spread of eduroam, as individuals participating in the program to study or research in other countries were given the ability to use the service, so promoting and increasing interest in it among universities. In 2018, GRENA provided eduroam for guests at a UNESCO-supported event celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU), the first national university in the Caucasus.
In 2019 GRENA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, allowing researchers to use the computing and storage resources of GRENA’s cloud infrastructure, which was established with the support of EaPConnect. Under this agreement, three projects used GRENA cloud infrastructure in weather forecasting research and the investigation of climate change. Results of one of these projects, on predicting climate change impacts in Georgia, were used in the Georgian Fourth National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
GRENA’s cybersecurity activities went from strength to strength: in collaboration with the national governmental computer emergency response team CERT.GOV.GE GRENA supported national cybersecurity contests – ‘CyberCube’ for youngsters and CYBER-EXE for representatives of public and private organisations – and with the support of EaPConnect developed a cyber exercises portal. GRENA’s cybersecurity team CERT.GE participated in CYBER-EXE, placing in the top three teams in 2017 and winning the contest a year later.
The cyber exercises portal www.cyber-lab.tech was first presented to Georgia’s research and education community in November 2018. The portal won the 2019 Georgian IT Innovation Award in the category ‘Best Information / Cyber Security Solution’.
GRENA hosted the EaPConnect project’s first ‘Eastern Partnership E-infrastructures Conference’ (EaPEC) in 2016, giving the organisation an opportunity to build relationships with policy and decision makers in its research and education community, as well as to showcase its activities and those of the project.
In 2019 GRENA celebrated its 20th anniversary with 130 guests from international and local research, educational and IT communities and governmental representatives, and including delegates of partner organisations from 9 countries and representatives of Georgian leading communication companies. Ramaz Kvatadze, Executive Director of GRENA reflected on GRENA’s past and future and its place in the GÉANT community of research and education networks.
An existing cooperation between GRENA and the National Science Foundation is highly beneficial for the scientific society of Georgia. According to the Memorandum of Cooperation signed between us in August 2019, researchers were given a possibility to use high performance computing and storage resources of GRENA implemented with the support of the European Union EaPConnect project.”
EaPConnect achievements video with subtitles in Georgian
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 Georgia?
I am certain that the new project will benefit Georgian R&E in numerous ways. One will be the increased number of users benefiting from the highly reliable network and the implemented services: eduroam, eduGAIN, cybersecurity, Cloud etc. EaPConnect will help establish new and strengthen existing collaborations between Georgian and European partners.”