From Uganda to the Internet2 Global Summit: International Perspective From a First-time Attendee
By Sarah Kiden, NSRC-Internet2 Fellowship Winner
I wanted to write and share my sincere appreciation for the opportunity I was given to attend the 2017 Internet2 Global Summit in Washington, D.C. The opportunity was truly worthwhile as I learnt a lot and made connections with many people in the Internet2 community. I know that the experience will benefit the research and education community in Uganda and beyond.
After the Global Summit meeting, we traveled to one of the universities in the western part of Uganda. Throughout the direct engineering assistance exercise, we made comparisons between the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) member institutions and some of the great ideas that had been shared during Global Summit. We have a lot to learn but are blessed to have support from organizations such as the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), and shall learn from communities like Internet2.
I must point out that it was very interesting to meet the and to receive recognition from the community. I have stayed in touch with some of them and continue to share experiences beyond the conference. Meeting Dr. Mae Jemison for the cocktail after she had given the wonderful keynote address was also very good. It was interesting to note that she, like many of us, had experienced challenges but had overcome them because she was persistent and had support from her family.
It is difficult for me to pick out a particular session that stood out because many of the ones I attended did. From the first session on research-based strategies for addressing gender diversity in the higher education community (which included findings from the Internet2-NCWIT pilot study), to the one about bringing K12 education closer to research and education applications and services, to the Deepfield analytics advanced technology demonstration, to the joint engineering team meeting where I heard updates from many global research and education networks, and even the welcome reception at the historic Library of Congress in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Each of the sessions addressed different aspects that I was interested in learning from.
The presentation I made during Global Summit provided an update about RENU, its history, current priorities, and future plans regarding network coverage, bandwidth costs, service availability, and capacity building activities. One of our biggest accomplishments was reducing the monthly cost of bandwidth per Mbps from $630 to $50 in just 3 years! Another major accomplishment for us has been the training of more than 150 network and system engineers through support from partners like NSRC, INASP, UbuntuNet Alliance, and the Internet Society. Through these types of professional trainings, engineers are able to get the hands-on experience they need to help improve their campus networks. I also shared examples of collaborations, published papers, and research work that prove the importance of RENU and Internet2 working together to provide support to their respective members.
A big thank you to NSRC for covering my travel, Internet2 for accommodation and other logistics (well organized I must say), RENU for coordinating my travel and providing a lot of the information used during my presentation, and allowing me to present on behalf of RENU.
Much appreciation to all of you for this opportunity and for the support!
Sarah Kiden is the head of systems at Uganda Christian University and a facilitator at Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU). She loves to learn, build and support systems/networks, and has been involved in coordinating capacity building initiatives for universities and research institutions in Uganda since 2014. In her free time, she volunteers with the Internet Society Uganda Chapter, through which she picked interest and became active in internet policy development at ICANN. She recently co-founded DigiWave Africa, a non-profit organization which supports the safe and responsible use of technology for youth and children. Sarah holds an MSc in information systems and BSc in information technology.
Since 2011, the NSRC and Internet2 have worked with universities, network service providers, and industry and government agencies in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean to provide support to research and education communities in countries underserved by the current research and education networking infrastructure. The NSRC-Internet2 fellowship covered travel expenses, hotel accommodation, and conference registration for the 2017 Global Summit.