For Armenia, five years of participation in the EU-funded EaPConnect project by IIAP NAS RA – ASNET-AM has brought benefits to diverse fields in research and education through a wide range of collaborative activities.
The first EaPConnect project ran until the end of June 2020 and is followed by a second project that is building on the successes of the first phase. So what were those successes from the ASNET-AM perspective?
ASNET-AM connected to GÉANT, the pan-European research and education network, in 2016 with a 1 Gigabit per second link, enabling Armenian universities and scientific institutions to join a 50 million-user community and collaborate with their peers internationally. Three years later this link was upgraded, resulting in significantly greater connectivity and lower prices for data flow, meaning that ASNET-AM could invest saved money in the development of services and skills that will better support the needs of its research and education communities.
for data flow (Gbps)
GÉANT and other services
eduroam – Connecting Armenian researchers and educators to the global eduroam WiFI roaming swervice has been a priority for ASNET-AM, as it allows students, researchers and educators to easily get online while working or studying abroad. In 2017, ASNET-AM hosted eduroam training in collaboration with the GÉANT Learning and Development team. In early 2020, there was work with the German national research and education network, DFN, to optimise the ASNET-AM eduroam offering as part of an EaPConnect partner mentorship scheme. Between 2015-2020, the number of eduroam service locations in Armenia multiplied by around 9 times.
Clouds – Following a 2017 EaPConnect workshop, ASNET-AM worked closely with the Italian national research and education networking organisation GARR to deploy a flexible and scalable Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud management platform. Completely free for ASNET-AM end users, the cloud means that users no longer have to maintain hardware and networking equipment and can access services such as network monitoring and IaaS-customised Virtual Machines. This provides support to societally important research, such as weather forecasting.
Nurturing Armenian culture
‘LoLa’ – Paired with high-bandwidth, cutting edge research and education networks, the ‘LoLa‘ low latency data transmission technology that was introduced in Armenia through EaPConnect provided a route for international collaboration for the music education and performing arts community. Armenian musicians performed in the first EaPConnect ‘Music Without Borders’ concert in 2017, and ASNET-AM technical staff developed their skills in supporting such events through participation in relevant international events and a ‘Lola’ e-masterclass in Armenia, also developing collaborative relationships in this area with GARR (Italy), the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (EAMT) and other partners. In 2019, the ASNET-AM team hosted a record-breaking ‘Connecting with Culture’ concert that united Armenian singers in Yerevan in a real-time performance with Venice-based choristers and Armenian diaspora.
Digitisation of cultural heritage – Thanks to collaboration between ASNET-AM and PSNC, the Polish national research and education networking organisation, and a long history of cooperation with the Armenian libraries community, a team from the National Library of Armenia is preserving around 3000 years of Armenian cultural history in digitised objects. The library team was one of the winners of the 2017 EaPConnect ‘Enlighten Your Research’ programme; part of the support they obtained was e-publication software training as well as broadband data transfer, digitisation equipment, computational resources and the close involvement of ASNET-AM staff.
Cooperation and visibility
ASNET-AM has pursued other collaborations, for example with LITNET (Lithuania) in the development of identity management solutions, and, in 2019, ASNET-AM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BASNET (Belarus) agreeing to build on the relationship they established in EaPConnect.
The web-conferencing system offered by ASNET-AM, based on the open-source web-conferencing system BigBlueButton, includes tools which allowed its research and education community to continue working and collaborating together during COVID-19 restrictions. ASNET-AM offers a lightweight meeting tool (meet.asnet.am), a fuller conferencing tool (barev.asnet.am), and a Moodle-based e-Learning tool (edu.asnet.am).
ASNET-AM also hosted and participated in many events, such the 2019 EaPConnect and EGI training on services that will be usable through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). ASNET-AM hosted EaPEC 2019, the project’s Eastern Partnership E-infrastructures Conference, where significant anniversaries were marked to celebrate 10 years of the Eastern Partnership, 20 years of EaPConnect’s Georgian and Moldovan partners, and 25 years of ASNET-AM itself, raising visibility for the organisation and its support for the Armenian research and education community.
EaPConnect achievements video with subtitles in Armenian
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 Armenia?
Advanced high-speed networks using innovative technologies; a rich portfolio of services to address the current and future demands of academia and educators; accelerating scientific research by providing state-of-the-art e-infrastructures; and the availability of thematic Research Infrastructures shaping EOSC. These are the outcomes I am anticipating for ASNET-AM and Armenia.”