by Stefano Trumpy
Technology transfer activities at CNUCE-CNR in the last few years have been mostly concentrated in two very different directions: the Italian public administration; research institutions in developing countries.
Collaborations with the Public Administration
The main activities currently under way in collaboration with national, regional and local authorities are the following:
Collaborations with Developing Countries
As CNUCE has acquired considerable experience in installing and running first ARPAnet and EARN network services, and then Internet, resources have been dedicated to supporting a number of technologically emerging countries that are either activating network services from scratch or starting from a very low level of implementation. These activities are conducted using internal funding or under contract with UNESCO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EU, etc. The countries involved so far have been: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Senegal.
Servers for e-mail or Internet services have been installed in all these countries and system operators have been trained. In particular, an important project is now under way in Egypt where CNUCE is responsible for supporting the provision of telematic services and the installation of multimedia systems for the new Institute for Research in Informatics which is under construction at the Mubarak City Technopolis in Alexandria.
Some of the most challenging experiences have been in those countries with a very low level of technological development , such as Nigeria. In these cases, not only is the telephone network very limited and the service highly unreliable but the power supply is also extremely erratic. It has thus been necessary to attach UPS's (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to each PC. Only very basic PC's, network protocols and services have been installed in order to ensure a reasonable level of performance while at the same time minimizing problems regarding maintenance and repairs and keeping overheads as low as possible. Sustainability is in fact the most critical problem when introducing telematic services in Africa. If you consider that the average monthly salary for a university lecturer corresponds to the cost of a few tens of minutes of international telephone line utilization, it is clear that the technical solutions adopted must pay particular attention to data compression techniques, recovery from transmission failures, optimization of the traffic to Internet gateways, etc.