Voice of the GÉANT Board
Continuing our series of Board member interviews, CONNECT spoke to Sabine Jaume-Rajaonia, Head of Strategy at RENATER and GÉANT Board member since 2014, about the key role of NRENs in supporting the Big Data Revolution.
Sabine, why is the role of R&E networks so critical in the current context?
NRENs have built and will continue to build roads to transport data. This data has grown exponentially over the last years and will continue to grow even more. NRENs have the crucial role to ensure that data gets from point A to B securely without being damaged and that it can be stored and shared. Data is knowledge and we need this knowledge to solve the challenges we face. The success of high performance computing and regional data infrastructures such as EUDAT depends on us for we have the networks and resources to support them and allow the data revolution, i.e. the knowledge revolution, to happen.
What is GÉANT’s mission in the Big Data Revolution?
GÉANT has a key geopolitical role. We have been able to interconnect scientific and educational communities from all continents; no one else has ever done that. We need to continue to consolidate this global village, supporting new networks in Africa, Asia and all other regions of the world, offering best practice and services to enable crucial scientific collaborations, and a practical answer to school massification by expanding access to education. Research is global. GÉANT and NRENs from all over the world have a role in breaking the digital divide because we know that digital divide equals scientific divide, so our mission is to support the digital transformation on all continents for the sake of humankind.
What are GÉANT’s key assets?
Its people. The reason why GÉANT stands at the heart of the global research and education network is thanks to people convinced by the need for NRENs, doing outreach, and wanting to collaborate together to expand their knowledge. We need to continue to support each other, learn from our users and from one another, create, and grow together as a global team.
The GÉANT community has outstanding technological expertise which has allowed us to be pioneers in networking and services. We need to continue to be as agile as we’ve been so far and again, be present and listen to be able to react quickly and seize opportunities.
Why is Africa important for GÉANT?
Africa is the second largest continent on Earth with the highest demographic growth; more than 50% of the population is below 25 years old. Africa also hosts some of the most biodiverse environments on Earth and holds the keys to a wide range of scientific discoveries, from crop security to viral diseases and climate change.
However the continent does not yet have a pan-African network for research and education. This is why as GÉANT we have been involved in AfricaConnect and now in AfricaConnect2 to make the case for NRENs in Africa and develop sustainable regional R&E networks such as the UbuntuNet network in Eastern and Southern Africa. Our mission with WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network), ASREN (the Arab States Research and Education Network) and the UbuntuNet Alliance (the regional Research and Education Networking organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa) is to help students and researchers everywhere win the race against climate change and other global risks. At GÉANT we are very proud to enable a key milestone in this race by connecting to Africa and supporting its R&E networking development.