Conference : 24th European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society, Florence, October 20-23, 2013
Presenter : Prof Rekha Jain, IIMA
National competitiveness is largely driven by leadership position in Science and Technology. In a scenario of increasing competition intensity and a growing share of knowledge based economy, it is important that nations have the infrastructure and processes at the highest level that support technological innovation, the key driver for sustaining leadership in these areas. While earlier geographical clustering based on specialization of localized expertise in specific domains was a hotbed of innovation as exemplified by the software clusters in the Silicon Valley, this pattern is now changing (Asheim and Coenen, 2005; Huggins, 2008). Communities of interest linked by/on high speed networks working collaboratively to solve complex and large problems are the emerging scenario for future growth in science and technology. For example, significant scientific work is being done by large geographically dispersed teams, using equipment that is extremely expensive and localized but the data analysis is being done in distributed teams as in the Large Hadron Collider or the Human Genome Project.
Increasingly, new knowledge and innovation is driven by sources both within and outside the organization and collaborative principles such as open source and open innovation have emerged to facilitate cross organization development of new knowledge and bring together a variety of perspectives in new knowledge creation and innovation.
However innovation and new knowledge creation would require going beyond the access and availability of knowledge. It would require support for tools for collaboration such as tools to structure and analyze knowledge. Since the structuring and analysis of knowledge is domain specific, this may require creation and dissemination of domain specific tools. Going one step further, the tools need to be verified and validated. Further, for groups that wish to adopt Open principles would require tools that support such collaboration.
Publicly provided national ICT infrastructure is seen as a key driver of supporting such innovation by providing high speed connectivity and access to high performance computing to the possibly geographically dispersed community of researchers. Several countries have such Research and Education networks, notably the Indian National Knowledge Network (NKN) and UK’s Joint Academic Network (JANET). NKN provides high speed gigabit infrastructure support to geographically dispersed, publicly funded academic and research centres. NKN also provides connectivity to other such global networks such as GLORIAD (Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development) and GEANT. So far nearly 1000 institutions have been connected. In addition, NKN also envisages support for “model projects”. Such projects showcase the technical features of high bandwidth and shared computing resources for collaborative high-end scientific research and applications in nationally identified areas such as Health, Education,15Science & Technology, Grid Computing, Bio informatics, and Agriculture. It is also envisaged that NKN will support e-governance. JANET in UK is a high speed network that connects all further and higher education institutions. It not only provides support for high performance computing, it also provides advisory services for voice, video and multi-site connectivity.
Given the above characteristics of innovations in science and the role and features of a publicly funded national ICT infrastructure, this paper focuses on: a) what are the critical success factors in designing national ICT infrastructure to support innovation and b) How do the roles of various stakeholders change as the network evolves from supporting knowledge dissemination to include innovation?