EUMEDGRID-Support: Building Bridges across Borders, Scientific Domains and Gender
Rome, 3 March 2011
Science is increasing globally. Grand challenges call for collaborative efforts, advanced computing infrastructures and high-speed networks enabling researchers irrespective of their geographical location and organisational boundary. Empowering scientific researchers through training on the one hand and policy support on the other are key ingredients for successful, international partnerships. The European project EUMEDGRID-Support is chartered with enhancing the Grid infrastructure connecting and supporting scientists in Europe with their peers in the Mediterranean Rim and the Middle East. To capitalize on EU investments in e-Infrastructures and ensure they are sustainable in the long term, EUMEDGRID-Support places special emphasis on an effective, two-way, high-policy dialogue.
The Launch Event of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), and the association of the Arab region National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in early December 2010, marked an important milestone to boost scientific research and co-operation underpinned by world-class e-Infrastructures. This key development brought together ministers, high-ranking government officials and e-Infrastructure experts from Europe, the Med Rim and the Middle East, demonstrating the importance of fostering continuous policy dialogue.
“The projects co-funded by the European Commission to support the creation and interoperability of e-Infrastructures with other regions are key for the development of the new eScience paradigm” said the EUMEDGRID-Support project director Federico Ruggieri, from the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). “Their interconnection and interoperability between Europe, South Mediterranean and Middle-East is a must for new Virtual Research Communities that need to collaborate at international level to address top-level scientific challenges.
The countries in the region are now well placed to take a leading role as shareholders of a large regional e-Infrastructure, interconnected with counter-parts in Europe and other continents, thus empowering the research and education communities and investing in local human resources and brilliant young generations” added Federico Ruggieri.
These achievements are echoed by other partners from the region. “Setting up a grid site at JUNet, starting the process of creating a Certification Authority (CA) and the creation of dedicated website are among the main achievements in Jordan for 2010, the first year of the two-year EUMEDGRID-Support.
We’ve also raised awareness of the new opportunities across all the universities and research centres in Jordan, explaining the advantages and how they can get started”, said Yousef Torman, director of JUNet, the Jordanian Universities Network. “Plans for 2011 include further promotion of infrastructure usage, establishing the National Grid Infrastructure and the Certification Authority, as well as a workshop to increase and maintain awareness” added Yousef Torman.
“In Tunisia, one Grid site has been integrated into the EUMEDGRID infrastructure and a local team of operators has been created. During the second year, our goal is to improve the performance of our Grid site by adding new services, as well as interconnect the whole of the local National Grid infrastructure of TNGrid to the EUMEDGRID infrastructure,” remarked Mohamed Jemni, Professor at the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques de Tunis, University of Tunis and General Chair of the Centre de Calcul “EL KHAWAREZMI”.
Serving communities from a range of scientific domains is the ultimate purpose of e-Infrastructures. Sixteen applications are currently being adapted for the Grid with four of them already submitting jobs on the infrastructure. Important support to infrastructure users and operators is also provided by the African Regional Operations Centre (roc.africa-grid.org), or Africa ROC for short. Africa ROC is a direct outcome of EUMEDGRID-Support and the alliances it has forged with South Africa Grid, along with two other European projects: Coordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-Infrastructures (CHAIN) and Exchange Programme to Advance e-Infrastructure Know-How (EPIKH).
Close interaction with peers in both Europe and the Med Rim has acted as a catalyst to establish strategic synergies at multiple levels, from infrastructure and application support to policy and coordination, which are key to driving sustainability.
Additional synergies encompass two similar regional e-Infrastructure initiatives funded by the European Commission, EUIndiaGrid2 and LinkSCEEM2 – Linking Scientific Computing in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the European funded Mediterranean Innovation & Research Coordination Action (MIRA), which is aimed at supporting a dialogue and action agenda for cross-regional research priorities. The synergy with the European project Ground European Network for Earth Science Interoperations – Digital Earth Community (GENESI-DEC) is part of a move to provide a united front on the hot topic of Climate Change, an application area which EUMEDGRID-Support is also pursuing at international conferences. Synergies have also played a key role in empowering communities through dedicated training with support from the EPIKH project. The two EUMEDGRID-Support training events in 2010 took place in Algiers and Cairo. These events have not only helped bring site administrators and application developers up to speed on the EUMEDGRID infrastructure but also brought on board new external initiatives, such as ANKABUT, the Research and Education Network of the United Arab Emirates.
While advanced technologies are very important for boosting scientific innovation, it is the synergy between the people involved that is vital to building bridges across borders, scientific domains and gender, leaving a legacy for generations to come.
EUMEDGRID-Support (2010-2012) aims to foster an open dialogue between Europe, the Med Rim and Middle-East to increase stakeholder and community awareness on the fundamental importance of e-Infrastructures. The ultimate goal is to ensure long-term sustainability. EUMEDGRID-Support is a project co-funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme e-Infrastructures (www.eumedgrid.eu).