TNC 2023: the rabbit, the lion and the youth

Laetitia Lagneau
Laetitia Lagneau Head of Marketing and Communication @ Belnet
Thu, 06/29/2023 - 13:03

On the final day of the TNC conference, which each year brings together the national research networks of Europe and other continents, the mayor of Tirana in Albania, our host city this year, concluded this 2023 edition by telling us the fable of the rabbit and the lion. It sums up the position of research and education networks around the world, and its conclusion is as follows: why should we want to remain a little rabbit trying to play the lion all our lives when we have the potential to really become a lion? In other words, let's never lack ambition, because we have everything it takes to play in the big league. One of the strengths of research networks is that they are interconnected, enabling millions of researchers and students to collaborate, even when they are on the other side of the world. For example, a researcher based at the University of Melbourne can collaborate with another researcher located in Canada while using data stored in Finland, and obtain results that they can share with other researchers elsewhere in the world.

Data takes over

In recent years, data has become an asset that demands our full attention. The network remains a great strength, but it has also become a commodity. It is what it allows us to build above it (above-the-net) that now counts more than the technology itself. The data that is exchanged rapidly and in complete confidence via research networks must be findable, accessible and reusable by those who need it, whatever the operating mode (FAIR data). The role of the NRENs in this area is of paramount importance, and it is therefore not surprising to see the NREN members of GÉANT fully embracing the principles of Open Science and collaborating on projects such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

... and their safety must be guaranteed

This data is often not just any data. Some of it is sensitive, while others will lead to revolutionary discoveries. They must therefore be protected. Here too, the research networks invest a great deal of time and energy, guaranteeing their communities strict compliance with cybersecurity standards. Cybersecurity is one of the objectives of the GÉANT 5.1 project. The conference was therefore an opportunity to organise a 'Security Day' bringing together both technical experts and communication experts from the research networks. User awareness is a key factor in the fight against cybercrime.

Security will also feature prominently at the next TNC, to be held in June 2024 in Rennes, the home of France's cyber centre of excellence and home to a large number of cybersecurity training courses.

Room for youth

For a number of years now, the conference has given young students the opportunity to present an innovative project at the conference, giving them the chance to rub shoulders with a host of experts, particularly IT experts, from research networks around the world. This year, these presentations resonated even more with the conference theme of digital generations. Yes, today's young students and researchers are what we call digital natives. They were born into a world where the Internet already played a major role, helping to make this tool as common as water or electricity. They are also the ones who will create tomorrow's Internet and transform its uses, like Félix Gaudin, a final-year student at UCLouvain, who has been selected to give a lightning talk (a 5-minute presentation) during one of the conference's plenary sessions. Read More

Youth also refers to the so-called emerging research networks. Countries that are trying to build up a national research network, as we did 30 years ago, thus opening up access to international collaboration for their academics and researchers. This year, our colleagues from Bosnia, Peru and Malawi were able to join us at the conference before finally joining the great global research and education network.

Laetitia Lagneau
Laetitia Lagneau Head of Marketing and Communication @ Belnet
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