Thursday, August 25, 2005

UNESCO, Alcatel sign deal on space-for-science

UNITED Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and telecommunications equipment supplier, Alcatel space, has signed a deal to enhance the scientific cooperation in the South-East Europe.

According to a press statement made available to Champion Infotel, the deal was to facilitate UNESCO participation in the ‘space-for-science’ project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and implemented by Alcatel space.

The project is a continuation of the ESA “MediaSpace” project in which UNESCO also participates as a user group.

Space-for-Science project utilizes a research framework in satellite technologies to provide scientific institutes of South-East Europe with satellite communication and information services as a mean of cooperation with scientific communities in the European Union and worldwide.

The project has been designed to provide connectivity and services in the areas of South-East Europe that are not being reached by fibre optic networks.

This was part of the UNESCO initiative to strengthen scientific cooperation in South-East Europe which was launched by the UN agency in Venice in year 2001.

UNESCO explained that the project would focus on the creation, animation and coordination of scientific groups that undertake joint scientific and education activities in fields selected for their potential benefit to participating countries.

It would enhance the services to be provided by using a platform developed within the project by adding a content management component to allow enhanced data storage and search, replication functions and provide new releases of the portal, e-learning, collaborative work functions with simple user operating interface (SSO).

Also the project would strive to augment the network capabilities of the system by adding two way Digital Video Broadcasting, Return Channel via Satellite (DVB-RCS) transmission means and management featuring users, services including Virtual Private Network (VPN), space capacity.

To develop a strategic plan, UNESCO said it would market the study, business plan and funding strategy while attracting industrial partners to the project in order to prepare the commercial use of the platform.

As well, UNESCO is to ensure communication on the project for and by the ministers concerned and through related international conferences prepare the expansion of the project over Europe initially and beyond in a second phase.

During the pilot period of the project expected to last till the end of this year, 20 scientific institutions from South-East Europe will be equipped with satellite communication infrastructure and two-way services that is accessible to the Internet and the European research and academic network GEANT, access to specialized information databases and journals, content distribution and publishing, distance-learning, computing, video-conference, virtual laboratory.

The role of the institutions participating in the project, UNESCO said would be to use and evaluate the infrastructure and services in their daily activities in cooperation with worldwide scientific communities.

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