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Retrospective 2006: advanced services for C&T. University Network of Telemedicine integrates regional initiatives

The New RNP has two purposes in the area of networks resources. Offering advanced services that can be disseminated for the entire community of users of the Ipê network and meet the special demands of the specific communities.

In the first front, the Ipê network, multigigabit infrastructure kept by RNP, offers IP telephony services, videoconferences, video on demand and Web conference, not to mention the traditional services (connectivity, network time protocol (NTP), response to safety incidents, etc.). In the second front, it meets the demands of special communities, such as the ones that develop and work with telemedicine in the university hospitals in the country.

RNP also sponsors the development of new services and applications, by means of the Work Groups Program, and takes part of international innovative projects.

Ringrid's map

International Collaboration – In January 2006 it was launched the project E-Infrastructure Shared Between Europe and Latin America (Eela), with a 1.7 million euro budget. It is a collaboration between 21 entities in Europe and Latin America for the integration of an infrastructure of international IT grid, which will serve as support for the development and test of advanced applications. The Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (Clara) and the academic national networks in Brazil (RNP) and Chile (Reuna) are partners of the project.

In October, another international project in the e-science area was started. The project Remote Instrumentation in Next-Generation Grids (Ringrid) has the main purpose to assess and propose standards for the use of remote instrumentation in IT grids. With resources of as much as 1 million euros, Ringrid gathers research institutes of ten countries: Poland, Austria, Greek, Bulgaria, Romania, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Italy and United Kingdom. RNP takes part of the project, guaranteeing the connection of the Brazilian participants to the international partners.

Telemedicine – In April, the University Network of Telemedicine (Rute) was launched, interlinking about 20 institutes which develop telemedicine research and services in the country. This initiative is sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), financed by Finep and coordinated by RNP, supported by the Brazilian association of the University Hospitals (Abrahue). The purpose is to support the improvement of the already existing telemedicine projects and stimulate the appearing of future interinstitutional works.

Work groups – With the creation of the Work Groups Program, in 2002, the RNP enabled the development of other services for its users, adding value to the Ipê network. The partnership with national research groups aim at showing the use feasibility of new protocols, services and applications of computer networks for the development of pilot projects and subsequent embracement of the Ipê network. In the work groups (GTs) services on IP telephony, videoconference and on-demand videos were originated, and they are already available via RNP. In 2006, seven new GTs were selected. Four of them – Digital TV, Mesh Network, Video Measurements and Management – are originated from previous GTS which moved onto the implementation phase of a pilot service. Three of them started the work this year: Infrastructure for Remote Teaching; Virtual Community of Grid and Diagnosis Automation and Faults Recovery.

IP Telephony – The RNP offers to its user institutes the phone@RNP, a service which allows voice communication via the Internet, using computers, IP telephones and even regular telephone sets, linked to the network via PABX or ATA adaptors. The phone@RNP provides mobility, broadening of the other telephone branches of the institute and savings on telephone fees, specially for long-distance calls. Along 2006, RNP trained technicians and distributed equipments so that about 80 institutes were connected to phone@RNP. By the end of the year, 38 institutes were already using the service.

Web Conference – In December, RNP implemented an exclusive service of Web conference for the Brazilian teaching and research community. The service purpose is to support the cooperative works carried out by the user institutes of the national academic network, stimulating remote education and the participation in remote events or lectures. The RNP’s Web conference service can be accessed from any internet-connected computer.

Videoconference – In May, the RNP ended the implementation of a videoconference network in 20 instituted linked to MCT. That action was another activity anticipated by the Campus Network Revitalization Action (PPA 1E14). Its purpose is to make it easier and broaden the interaction among teams and leaders of the research units, autarchies, social organizations and the MCT itself, to support the decision-making process, reducing costs and increasing productivity. The process, coordinated by RNP, comprised the purchase and delivery of videoconference equipment and of 34-inches TV sets; the on-site setting and installation; and the training by one technician per institute; as well as the maintenance of the videoconference equipment for two years.

The videoconference and video broadcasting resources were used in events several times during the year, even before the opening of the MCT videoconference network. In March, researches in Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Belém (PA), Manaus (AM) and São José dos Campos (SP) took part of the lectures at the 8th Conference of the Convention parts about Biological Diversity (COP-8), via videoconference. In April, organizations of the Mercosul health areas got together by videoconference, via RNP and Clara Network. In May, a videoconference using the experimental network of the Giga Project united the medicine colleges of the Fluminense Federal University and Rio de Janeiro State University. In June, the Mamirauá-Rio Environmental Education project established a direct connection between Ignácio Azevedo do Amaral State School, in Jardim Botânico (RJ), and the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Institute, in Tefé, amid Amazon forest. There were four videoconference sessions for the awareness of the students of Rio de Janeiro about the environmental matters and the specific characteristics of Amazon.

Videoconference at 58ª SBPC's annual meeting

In the second semester, more videoconferences. In July, during the 58th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Science Progress (SBPC), in Florianópolis, lectures from experts were broadcasted in other cities of the country via videoconference. In October, the experience of the Mamirauá-Rio Environmental Education Project was reproduced during the National Week of Science and Technology. By means of the articulation, students from Engineer João Tomé State School, from Barão de Itacurussá City School and from Visconde de Mauá State Technical School were invited to take part of the videoconference sessions, carried out in the tent of the event at Largo da Carioca, in Rio de Janeiro downtown. Once again, the Mamirauá Institute presented remotely lectures about alternative energy, planned fishing, fauna preservation and about the own feasibility of the videoconference in a place like the Amazon Forest. In November, experts from Cern, Switzerland, and from FCCN, in Portugal, took part of the RNP Seminar for Qualification and Innovation via videoconference.

Besides the videoconferences, the RNP supported the broadcasting, via Internet, of the Centenary Mission, which took the first Brazilian astronaut to outer space; of the semiannual modules of the course Mathematics Improvement for High-School Teacher of the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (Impa); of events of the Ministry of Cities and of Culture, among others.

Other videoconferences, Web conferences and video broadcasting go through the Ipê network without RNP being any the wiser. After all, it is like an e-mail transmission. The RNP only knows there is traffic passing through the network, and it has no authority (neither it wishes to have) to see the content. Finally, the user institutions communicate some event, either to assure the network availability, or to require some sort of support. Sometimes, the links to the transmission videos are disclosed in RNP’s website, under request from the institute that is promoting the event. But as the technology is disseminated and the services start being used constantly and naturally, the trend is that the RNP gets to know about less and less events, relatively to the intensity of the services use.

There are many resources that the advanced networks can offer to science, technology and innovation. The support to research an to teaching has long left the phase webpage visualization and e-mail exchange. The actual interaction é more and more necessary and the New RNP is a step ahead on that matter.

About this report

This week, we are publishing a series of reports with the 2006 retrospective at RNP. Yesterday, we spoke about the investments made in the network infra-structure area. Tomorrow, the topic will be qualification and training. Also see the interactive New RNP page (in Portuguese).

[RNP, 01.24.2007]

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