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Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
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The e-Science projects aim at assuring the development of networks, information systems and services provided to support scientific activities carried out at research and higher education institutions. As a result of the development in recent projects, mainly at FCCN – Foundation for National Scientific Computing which is the organization responsible for the Portuguese National Research and Education Network (NREN), Portugal is at the forefront in delivering this type of tools to support the scientific community activities in Europe. 

In fact, this area developed strongly from 2005 to 2009: 

  • The Portuguese NREN, the Network Science, Technology and Society (RCTS), now has a optical fiber cable backbone with 48 fibers, owned by FCCN, operating at 10 Gbps, which was progressively increased from an initial connection of 400 Km Lisbon-Braga to more than 1,000 km, and serves more than 80% of higher education, one of the best situations in the European Union; 
  • The bandwidth of international connections of the RCTS was increased by more than eightfold, from 1.2 Gbps to 10 Gbps; 
  • Wireless access was generally provided in all higher education, integrating dispersed campi in the country in one nationwide virtual campus e-U Virtual Campus, an initiative in which Portugal was a pioneer worldwide, with the number of users to move from about 3,000 in March of 2005 to 80,000 in late 2008, and from about 200,000 sessions in March 2005 to 7 million at the end of 2008; 
  • On April 2006, the INGRID – National Grid Initiative was launched, leading the incipient infrastructure existing at the time, with only 72 CPUs and 22 TB of disk memory, to develop to a total of 1,778 CPUs and 996 TB of disk memory. This infrastructure has been integrated with the Grid Computing infrastructure of Spain, through the joint IBERGRID initiative, and took a participatory role in the EGI – European Grid Initiative, whose Policy Committee was chaired by Portugal in 2008 and 2009; 
  • The financing and management model of the b-on Online Knowledge Library was radically simplified and streamlined in 2006. This digital library was expanded and began providing free access and permanent access to some 17,000 titles of scientific journals in all scientific research and public higher education institutions, as well as in adherent private higher education institutions, whose subscriptions are negotiated for the whole country (“country deal”) by FCCN, with downloads of full text articles increasing from 2.1 million in 2004 to 5.2 million in 2008. Portugal is in the European Union, one of the few countries which provides a library of this type nationwide; 
  • Creation in 2008 of the Scientific Open Access Repository of Portugal (RCAAP), which allowed to pass from only about 3,000 documents in just one existing institutional repository in 2005 (University of Minho) to 25 institutional repositories, including all public universities, and more than 27,000 documents in 2009, thus placing Portugal at the forefront of the movement to expand the creation of such repositories in the European Union; 
  • Creation in 2008 of Zappiens – Multimedia for Knowledge, an open access repository with Creative Commons licensing and Digital Rights Management systems for high-definition videos of scientific, educational and cultural interest; 
  • Maintenance and expansion of Linguateca, a resource center for computational processing of the Portuguese language; 
  • Creation of the VoIP system for the whole national scientific and public higher education system, eliminating the costs of voice communication within this system and reducing the costs of external communications as a result of procurement aggregation at national level of fixed and mobile communication services, and developing simple tools for tele-and video-conference with this system that are about to be made available to all institutions and will trivialize the tele- and video-conferencing among researchers, teachers and students of this system, as these services will be available to be simply initiated at any computer in the scientific and higher education network, providing very simple costless and pervasive communication tools for collaborative work at a distance; 
  • Beginning of the launching of a system of immersive video conferencing rooms serving the scientific community and higher education, with the creation of such rooms in 2009 in Lisbon and Porto. 

In the Connecting Portugal initiative (2005-2010) the following actions were planned: 

  • To implement and operate as a public network with its own infrastructure, the RCTS - Science Technology and Society Network backbone and to extend its connections to international networks (namely to the European research and higher education network GÉANT2) through Spain, ensuring redundancy. Coupled with this development, to create the national public administration security network; 
  • To ensure the dissemination of scientific distributed computing, launching the National Grid Initiative, as in other European countries, for research and development and the for exploring economic opportunities made available by distributed computing; 
  • To increase access to sources of digitized knowledge sources to the scientific community, namely through the b-on Online Knowledge Library; 
  • To encourage the development of computational resources for the Portuguese language computer processing and to launch systems of automatic translation to Portuguese. 

Last Updated (02/03/2010)