The Director of the Directorate of Engineering and Operations of the Brazilian academic network, RNP, Eduardo Grizendi spoke with DeCLARA about the challenges faced by the “verde-amarela” network in recent years, the future challenges and, of course, his vision of the TICAL Conference.
How the integration of RNP with other Latin American networks is helping the growth of the Brazilian network? Can you give us an example?
One thing leads to another. Several actions of RedCLARA, including the ALICE2 and ELCIRA, leveraged our infrastructure and our services to meet demands in communication and collaboration in order to attend our internal institutions and also outside Brazil, the other Latin American networks. The existing direct connection with RedCLARA, for example, enables brazilian researchers and students to have more capacity to collaborate internationally, enriching their studies and projects. In addition, the collaboration with the Latin American networks provides a greater exchange of experiences and opportunities to work together, because addresses more easily the problems that are more common among us.
The BELLA Project should be even more structuring for all our Latin American networks, bringing greater balance to our communication and external collaboration, connecting us directly to Europe. Recently, through a collaboration agreement, we transferred the model and the methodology of our Superior School of Networks, training arm of RNP, to RENATA, the Colombian academic network. CEDIA, from Ecuador, has also expressed interest and should be the next to implement the school. Our goal is to extend this action to a wider collaboration with other Latin American networks in, where all their partners will be able to share, enhance and evolve to all the improvements in methodology and more content of the material of this school, turning it into a Latin American Network School.
RNP is, undoubtedly, very important for the development of the entire advanced networks Latin American community. In which areas you think it can contribute to help even more this process of evolution?
We can contribute in many points, especially in the areas of training and connectivity already mentioned, in addition to telemedicine and services. In particular on telemedicine, the Telemedicine University Network of RNP, also known as RUTE, received in 2012 the qualification of best practice in telemedicine in Latin America and the Caribbean, given by the Inter-American 20 21 Development Bank (IDB), the Pan-American Health Organization and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Since then, RUTE has served as an example of innovation in scientific collaborative networking, deployment of telemedicine centers and telehealth, remote assistance, continued education, scientific practice and production in this area, and integration between health professionals and academics in all regions of the country.
The worldwide recognition of the actions of RUTE and the success achieved through the work that was done also contributed to the launch, in 2010, of the project “Telehealth Public Policies in Latin America TTP-LA”, financed by the IDB. Its aims were to consolidate the national telehealth programs in the Latin American countries and to establish a strategy for the creation of integrated networks of teaching and research on telehealth issues in Latin America, from the integration of existing advanced academic networks, health communities, ministries of health, education, science, technology and innovation, allowing the promotion, prevention and provision of telehealth services. The joint effort is carried out in order to make these services more efficient, to reduce costs and increase the quality of telehealth in the region, especially in places of hard access.
In Brazil, the project is coordinated by RUTE/RNP and by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). The project also has representatives from the Ministries of Health of the following countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bolivia, Panama and Guyana. RedCLARA and the academic networks RENATA (Colombia), CEDIA (Ecuador), CUDI (Mexico) and RNP (Brazil) are part of the project too.
Some institutions in Latin America also collaborate and participate in the sessions - monthly, scientific and practical - of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which are held by RUTE as a collaborative activity with their members. In at least eight SIGs, there was participation of health professionals and academics from Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador. In the area of services, we were responsible for two ELCIRA work packages, funded by the European Commission, which aimed to help the execution of collaborative projects between researchers in Latin America and Europe.
Thus, we expanded the use of eduroam in Latin America, which currently accounts more than 1200 access points distributed in several countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru, as well as Brazil. We also encouraged the creation of identity federations in the region. As a result, Colombia and Ecuador launched their federations, Colfire and Minga, the Argentine (MATE) is in final stage to become a member of eduGAIN and the chilean (COFRE) has completed its accession process. Another three are in their pilot phase: Peru (Inca Federation), Uruguay (RAUid) and Mexico (Fenix).
In this context, how important is the Conference for the brazilians and how are they preparing for this edition?
TICAL is a very important meeting point to all the Latin American academic networks, because it is where we share experiences, best practices, know initiatives of other networks and open fronts to new opportunities for collaboration. I lost the last edition and felt bad about it. Before it, I participated in all other editions since I entered RNP. But I committed to myself to not miss it again.
It's a conference of ourselves to ourselves, where we realize that our problems are common and that a solution found by an academic network several times serves better to another, when both are Latin American. We are preparing ourselves to take a record number of Brazilians this year. We involved our communications area since the beginning of the preparations and we are now involving our department of institutional relationship in order to better disseminate and promote the participation of Brazilian researchers and students. The opportunity to know the cities where the event is carried out is very interesting too.
The Conference will reach its fifth edition. How do you evaluate its growth since its first edition?
My evaluation is that TICAL is doing well, with a great growth potential, as far as we “latinizate” ourselves. There are thematic areas to be explored and there is a great potential to increase the partners and event sponsorships.
Personally, what are your expectations for TICAL2015?
To participate, take more Brazilians, learn from all participants, contribute and share our actions and projects, enjoy and meet friends from other academic networks.
Finally, what everybody wants to know: when we’ll have TICAL in Brazil? Are there negotiations to take the conference to your country?
We are working to bring it to Brazil next year, so we could have TICAL2016 here. Though there is just one thing that is scaring us: the fact that the Olympics will be held in the Brazil in 2016 too, and in the same period of TICAL. Maybe that complicates things a bit. But our will is to hold the event here, if not in 2016, in 2017.