A second phase of the EU-funded EaPConnect project started in July 2020, bolstered by a renewed EU-Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy commitment to a strong digital presence in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood.

Key among EaPConnect’s achievements in the past 5 years are greater integration with pan-European GÉANT activities, services and networks, and benefits to research, education and wider society in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

(Subject of left image, ©2020 GÉANT)

10x

Network capacity increase

Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova & Ukraine

7x

Network capacity increase

Armenia

Network connectivity

  • Before EaPConnect, connectivity between EaP countries and the GEANT pan-European network was indirect, low-capacity or non-existent.
  • Now all countries are connected, with a tenfold capacity increase in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus and around 7-fold in Armenia.
  • Procurement in collaboration with GÉANT succeeded in reducing Internet connectivity prices by around 60% in Belarus and Ukraine, and by around 80% in the South Caucasus countries.

60%

Price drop

Belarus & Ukraine

80%

Price drop

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

Connectivity improvements are critical for data-intensive research. For instance, Ukrainian and Belarusian high-energy physicists are helping unravel fundamental secrets of the universe, using data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider experiments. The Institute for Nuclear Problems of the Belarusian State University used fast connectivity to the GÉANT network to become a fully functional part of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid. And in Ukraine, only one team is able to process LHC CMS experiment data, that’s the team that Alexey Kurov is part of at Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT):

In Azerbaijan, the Republican Seismic Survey Center (RSSC) sensor network gathers large amounts of data on frequent earthquakes.

We process the information within 10 minutes and send it to the Presidential Office. Uninterrupted Internet is essential. AzScienceNet’s collaboration with us and GÉANT through EaPConnect has improved our work a lot.”

Ruqiyya Karimova, Seismologist, RSSC Azerbaijan

Services and support

800,000

Students, teachers, researchers and staff

at universities, research institutes and other connected institutions can access EaPConnect partner networks and services.

During the project, the number of connected institutions grew significantly in Georgia (17%), Armenia (26%) and Azerbaijan (58%). The number of services on offer, including from the GÉANT portfolio, has grown too.

eduroam

The eduroam educational roaming Wi-Fi service can now be found in around 275 locations and is a focus of collaboration between some partners and the Erasmus+ programme.

GRENA performs outstanding work by introducing eduroam in Georgia. TSU is a leader in terms of international cooperation and a huge number of students go abroad to study with the support of Erasmus +. eduroam is the most beneficial resource for them.”

Revaz Shanidze, Associate Professor at Tbilisi State University, has used eduroam extensively.

Online meeting and learning

The provision of online meeting and learning tools was stepped up in response to COVID-19:

  • RENAM added eduMEET and openUp2U to its offer and is working with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research to ensure learning continues in Moldova during the crisis.
  • URAN very rapidly set up eduMEET in Ukraine, which soon attracted around 100 concurrent users.

I prefer eduMEET over other services. I am grateful to URAN for implementing this platform, its simplicity just wins me over.”

Roman Yatsenko, Head of E-Learning Tools Department, Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National Economic University, Ukraine

Clouds

126

organisations using our clouds

Partners’ cloud services are being used for a wide range of purposes, for example:

  • academic publishing in Ukraine
  • climate change prediction in Georgia
  • extreme weather forecasting in Armenia
  • medical imaging handling and analysis in Moldova and Belarus
  • creation of a local history app and a CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure) knowledge centre in Belarus.

Many of these fruitful steps became possible due to the support of BASNET and EaPConnect.”

Yuras Hetsevich, Head, Speech Synthesis and Recognition Laboratory, United Institute of Informatics Problems of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus

Community and collaboration

EaPConnect has built productive human networks between its EaP partners, other NRENs and e-infrastructures. Ten European and 3 non-European NRENs have been associate partners; a mentorship scheme to create practical technical collaborations has already resulted in an Armenian computer emergency response team. Formal agreements have been signed: for example, in 2018 between AzScienceNet and the Minister of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding use of the networks and international scientific collaborations; in 2019 between GRENA and the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation regarding use of cloud infrastructure; and in 2019 between the Armenian and Belarusian project partners, IIAP NAS RA and UIIP NASB, building on their EaPConnect partnership.

530

people from 50+ organisations

attended our first four EaPEC conferences

Our ‘EaPEC’ conferences featured 22 projects selected under the project’s Enlighten Your Research programme to reach out to researchers. Our conferences, training events, meetings and workshops helped create and strengthen relationships with researchers, national ministries and institutions, and to raise partners’ visibility with local and national media. EaPConnect also supported participation in GÉANT and other international events and community working groups.

EaPConnect has strengthened the bonds between its partners and the GÉANT community, project and association, with positive effects on both sides. I look forward to these collaborations developing further in the coming years.”

Erik Huizer, CEO, GÉANT