Extended families usually manage to get together once a year (if at all). However, members of the Asi@Connect project family have two face-to-face meeting dates in their annual calendar in line with scheduled APAN conferences – the Asia-Pacific R&E networking events; their most recent rendezvous took place during the third week of February at APAN47 in Daejeon, South Korea.

Hosted by KISTI (Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information) and KREONET and run in parallel with APRICOT2019, APAN47 attracted over 350 participants from across the Asia-Pacific region and further afield. For me a great opportunity to catch up with friends, old and new, and to witness first-hand what is going on in this community.

A vibrant community

Admittedly, I am a bit biased. I feel at home in Asia-Pacific, having been involved in the EU-funded TEIN and Asi@Connect projects since 2005. But this is undeniably a vibrant community. You get a sense by dropping into some of the APAN Working Group sessions, each focusing on a specific subject area. Just amazing to see the impact of combined advanced satellite, sensor and network technology on crop monitoring and yields, or real-time typhoon forecasting, let alone mesmerizing cyber-performances which so seamlessly bring together cultures and their artistic expressions across borders. And I will never tire of seeing Dr Shimizu and his passionate team of surgeons and network engineers in action who so impressively demonstrate how our community can contribute to extending healthcare and lives (I have however learned to time my attendance at such live telemedicine sessions not immediately after breakfast…).

Impressive results

One highlight of APAN47 was the Asi@Connect project meeting, in particular progress and result reports of activities funded via Call for Proposals. During the three rounds so far, 51 out of 171 submitted proposals were awarded with an investment of over €7M. Capacity-building workshops resulted in over 700 engineers being trained across the beneficiary countries, be it in eduroam deployment, BGP or campus network management. And it was great to hear that at the GÉANT-run CSIRT training workshop at APAN47 7 out of 19 trainees were female – a clear sign that woman power in Asian cybersecurity is on the rise!

But what impressed me the most were updates on the application front (and I already started thinking of some exciting story additions to the In The Field blog). Hearing, for example, about the challenging endeavour of connecting isolated communities on Mount Everest and the passionate drive of a Nepalese team behind it fills you with that sort of warm feeling: wow, this community really does make a difference!

And there was also reason to celebrate: Myanmar’s recent connection to the regional TEIN network marked a milestone: 23 out of 24 project partners have now access not only to the regional but also to the global R&E network fabric.

Being prouder and louder

The impressive track-record of Asi@Connect does however not eclipse the need for ongoing advocacy of R&E networking. As part of efforts to build up PR capacity in the region, a Communications and Marketing workshop took place during APAN47 attended by over 20 very engaged participants across Asia and facilitated by APAN, TEIN*CC, GÉANT, AARNet and REANNZ. The workshop offered the opportunity to get tips on effective comms planning, execution and storytelling and laid the foundation for a regional PR learning and sharing community.

Well, it was a week well spent in Daejeon. I returned with a sense of awe and admiration for the Asian community. I am looking forward to seeing my Asi@Connect family again in Malaysia in July at APAN48.

Find out more about APAN47 on the APAN website.