Shaping the Future Networked Society – The Future Internet Conference - Perspectives emerging from R&D in Europe
Prof. dr. Borka Jerman Blažič
We are heading inevitably towards the Networked Society. It is important that different actors, including citizens, participate in making it a successful and desirable outcome. The European Union has identified this opportunity and has so far already committed hundreds of millions of R&D funding through different instruments to enable the development of the Future Internet. Among the new projects funded by the EU is “EIFFEL – Evolved Future Internet for European Leadership” that aims to facilitate a high-level think-tank and encourage a collaborative R&D approach of European stakeholders from industry, public institutions, and academia towards the Future Networked Society. The Slovenian partner of EIFFEL, Laboratory for Open Systems and Networks, Jožef Stefan institute has organized the conference Future Internet in Bled, March 31st - April 2nd.
Today’s Internet was never designed to be a critical part of the worldwide economy’s infrastructure and an integral part of our society, but it has become exactly that. The Future Internet must not be seen as a mere technical entity, but as an enabler of the Future Networked Society. This leads to the logical conclusion that new research initiatives and approaches are needed to cover all aspects and more interdisciplinary research is required in this domain.
It is of key importance in Europe to achieve a balanced research agenda towards the Future Networked Society. There is a clear need to further support evolutionary, applied, engineering research, based on present industry projections towards the future. But this is not going to be enough to ensure that Europe grasps the great opportunities offered by the Future Internet. The evolutionary path has to be complemented by a portfolio of radical exploratory research activities that will push beyond the limits of existing ideas, architectures and technologies. This leading red line was in the focus of the conference and the technical meeting of 65 projects from the area that were selected on the first call of FP7. 350 experts attended and discussed the following areas:
- Networking (wireless, fiber, Internet network)
- Software and services (SOAs, Internet of services)
- Content creation and distribution (3D Internet)
- Enterprise (Internet of things)
with an essential aim to reach out the potential sources of the talent that Europe has for the leadership of Europe. Other issues such that were discussed during the conference were:
- International cooperation and issues (EU strategy, policy)
- Relationships with China, Japan, Korea, Latin America, USA programmes
- Standardisation (where, why, what …) requirements
- Network Architecture, Wireless, Service, Test beds, Policy
- Common research agenda.
At the end of the first day program the European Assembly on Future Internet R&D projects was set as a vehicle that permit open interactions and cross-fertilization. It also enable sharing of information presented on project workshops and conferences, minimize duplication and prevent fragmentation. The Assembly adopted the “Bled Declaration” that was signed by 65 FP 7 projects. The declaration defines the European way to the Future Internet development and contain a request addressing the European Union member states to strengthen and coordinate their national R&D efforts and initiatives towards Future Internet. European Commission is asked to stress the vision and amplify the related R&D in order to drive Europe ahead of tomorrow’s Internet transformations in the way we work, live and interact. Both the member states of EU and the European Commission to support the creation and activities of the European Future Internet Assembly established at the Bled conference.
The role of the EIFFEL within these activities is to ensure that there is enough interaction between the community undertaking exploratory, fundamental-type research and the more engineering based approaches, including the possibility that interdisciplinary approaches are considered and debated outside of the limits of narrow technical projects. The EIFFEL project through the Bled Future Internet Conference and other meetings is establishing a pan-European discussion platform and an international technical think-tank discussions on the future of the Internet, particularly on network architecture and governance issues. Although EIFFEL leverages European experts, it is uniquely an international, peer-recognition based think-tank, which is embracing experts from around the world. Technical experts explore and debate areas relevant to the shaping of the Future Networked Society, study the fundamental challenges of improving the Internet architecture and related technologies, and develop a vision for the Future Networked Society. Cross-fertilisation of the scientific investigations targeted at deployable Internet design principles will catalyst through its debates adoption of white papers and common roadmaps. This approach and the results that will follow from the R&D work of the projects that signed the Bled Declaration will lead to the transformation of the current Internet towards the Future Networked Society.
There are many questions on how the Internet will develop in the future. What has been clearly identified is that the Internet must progress and that the rate of progress must be revolutionary. Once we determine what sorts of transformations are needed, we could start working on how to migrate from today's Internet to the forecasted Future Internet, or the Future Networked Society.
A major result of the European efforts, the Future Internet conference, the Bled declaration and the EIFFEL project will build the vision of the Future Networked Society in the 2025 timeframe, as well as an outline of the technical areas of importance for realizing it. The Future Internet Assembly is building bridges across disciplines and between the different communities in order to establish the European voice in exploratory research towards it, eventually aiming at constituting the European arm in any international activity. With this mile stone, the conference, the assembly and the Bled declaration Europe has the opportunity to make a major contribution towards the Future Internet and set the stage for the Future Networked Society.
Some highlights from the conference:
Papadimitriou Dimitri, Alcatel- Lucent, Belgium: Congratulations to Jožef Stefan Institute, I am amazed by the quality of the content and quality of the organization.
Joao da Silva, European Commission: I have rarely seen a conference so well organized to the extent that no one noticed that there was an organization.
John Domingue, Open University, UK : These were the three best days in my life
Abel Carril Fuentaja, Politechnical University, Madrid: Congratulations for this great event and your Isabel performance in a such long session.