Community Programme Strategy

Document code: GN-20-259191c

Owner: Chief Community Relations Officer

Authors: GÉANT Community Committee members: Valter Nordh, Claudio Allocchio, Klaas Wierenga, Branka Vuk, János Mohácsi, Guido Aben, Anna Wilson, Victoriano Giralt, David Groep, Sabine Jaume, Gyöngyi Horváth (GÉANT Association) and Task Force and Special Interest Group coordinators

Classification: Public

1. Introduction

Collaboration between experts in different geographic locations and disciplines is crucial to the GÉANT community. The GÉANT Community Programme (GCP) helps GÉANT, National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), other research and education bodies and members of the community to collaborate and share experiences.

This document outlines the strategic framework governing the activities of the GCP. It presents an overview of the Programme, its vision, goal, mission and objectives (Section 2), describes the work of the GÉANT Community Committee (GCC) (Section 3), and summarises its portfolio of Task Forces (TFs), Special Interest Groups (SIGs), workshops and collaborative projects and services, including the thematic areas supported (Section 4).

The strategy will be reviewed four years from the date of approval and issue, or sooner if circumstances require.

2. The GÉANT Community Programme

The GCP is made up of TFs, SIGs, bespoke workshops and training, and collaborative projects and services designed to facilitate collaboration and the sharing of experiences between GÉANT, NRENs, other R&E bodies and members of the community. The GCP guides the future development of R&E services, technology and also a variety of non-technical topics for the GÉANT community. The GCP is a grassroots, voluntary initiative built by world experts from NRENs, user organisations, research institutions, commercial and industrial sectors. TFs and SIGs provide an effective framework for forums to share information and best practices and to discuss possible innovations and further development of services. The GCP is an open initiative and as such its wiki space and all associated papers are publicly available.

2.1 Vision

The vision the GCP aspires to realise is:

A connected, collaborative and harmonised research and education networking community.

Its goal is to be the primary forum for enabling and fostering collaboration and harmonisation in the R&E networking community, furthering development and progress in Internet technology, infrastructure, R&E services, digital transformation and activities, and of the research and education community itself.

2.2 Mission

The mission of the GCP, which will enable it to achieve that goal, is to: Provide optimal conditions for the R&E networking community to collaborate both face-to-face and virtually.

This involves creating mechanisms to enable participation and inclusion, delivering a roadmap identifying topics and trends of strategic importance (including input from the community) and providing guidance to GÉANT and the community.

2.3 Objectives and Actions

The specific objectives by which the GCP fulfils its mission are:

  • Identify and share areas and trends benefiting NRENs and the wider R&E community.
  • Manage the lifecycle of groups and activities.
  • Connect people to the right human network.
  • Support methods of eliminating gaps within the R&E community.
  • Facilitate group collaborations.
  • Raise awareness about the GCP.
  • Facilitate knowledge transfer.

Each of these is described in more detail below, outlining the actions the GCC and community are taking or will take in order to realise each objective. Results and achievements of the work is oversight and assessed regularly to support the fulfilment and continuous progress of strategy. A more detailed action plan will be defined as a next step.

  • Identify and share areas and trends benefiting NRENs and the wider R&E community.
The GCC annually provides recommendations from the wider R&E community (via the TFs/SIGs, community platform and various expert networks) to GÉANT Association and the General Assembly. These recommendations provide input for the annual outreach plan.

  • Manage the lifecycle of groups and activities.
The GCC identifies the process for creating, running and terminating groups and activities, and produces and disseminates guidelines. Through its communication channels and network of people, it gathers input from the community, which leads to new groups or activities. The GCC also fosters the incubation process from SIGs through TFs to concrete projects. The GCC oversees the creation and termination of groups and activities on a continuous basis and sets priorities within the programme.

  • Connect people to the right human network.
The GÉANT Association team responsible for supporting the GCP creates and maintains a continuously updated overview of activities and human networks, and guides people and ideas to the relevant group, facilitating knowledge exchange and the creation of communities of interest.

  • Support methods of eliminating gaps within the R&E community.
GÉANT Association identifies methods to ensure gaps are filled or mitigated. These may relate to funding issues as well as knowledge transfer.

  • Facilitate group collaborations.

The GCC provides guidelines, best practices, facilities and checklists for virtual and face-to-face meetings to enable equal participation. This covers the role of the chair/coordinator and communication guidelines as well as the technical elements.

  • Raise awareness about the GCP.
The GÉANT Association communications team creates an annual outreach plan and materials to ensure that the Community Programme is well-known and visible within and outside of the R&E community. These also make it clear how newcomers can contact the Community Programme.

  • Knowledge transfer.
GÉANT Association organises, in coordination with NREN experts, training seminars and staff exchanges (staff temporarily hosted by another NREN), writes best practices (both technical and procedural), tags all existing documentation (including GNx Deliverables) to make it a searchable database, maintains a list of experts, and organises a newcomers programme at TNC.

3. GÉANT Community Committee

The GCC has oversight of the GCP. It operates under the auspices of the GÉANT General Assembly via agreed terms of reference. The Chair of the GCC is an NREN representative, elected by the General Assembly, and the Committee’s 6–8 members, who represent key expertise areas and/or communities, are appointed by the GÉANT Board of Directors based on input provided by the Chair in consultation with the GÉANT Executive Team. The GCC is usually closely associated with a community-focused Task within the current GÉANT project. The objectives of the GCC are to:

  • Provide help, to NRENs that request it, with procuring ICT equipment and facilities for students, lecturers and scientists by, for example, sharing ideas, best practices, advising on harmonising procedures or technology selection, or jointly tackling an issue.
  • Assist GÉANT in matters related to community‐driven collaborative initiatives.
The GCC also has a role to play in the GÉANT community innovation and service/product lifecycle, as described in Section The GCC wiki can be found here; the official public file store for the GCC can be found here.

4. GÉANT Community Programme Portfolio

4.1 Task Forces

TFs are fixed‐term, typically short‐lived community‐based collaboration activities, undertaken largely by volunteers who work together on specific tasks to produce tangible deliverables. Formal processes are in place for establishing, running and dissolving a TF, together with standard terms of reference that determine aspects such as the role of the chair and secretary, meeting frequency, deliverables, length of mandate and mailing list. (Exceptions to the “short-lived” characteristic include the Task Force on Computer Security Incident Response Teams (TF-CSIRT).)

4.2 Special Interest Groups

SIGs are similar constructs to TFs, in that they are also community‐based and largely volunteering activities, but focus on community building, best practice dissemination and knowledge exchange rather than on tasks and deliverables. Like TFs their lifecycle is governed by formal processes and standard terms of reference. SIGs are normally of longer duration than TFs, and are led by a Steering Committee rather than a chair.

4.3 Workshops and Trainings

One‐off or series of community‐based workshops, (un)conferences or Birds of a Feather sessions (BoFs) may be organised around a specific topic of interest. Workshops may lead to recommendations for establishing further, follow‐up activities. These may be captured in a workshop (or series of workshops) closing report.

4.4 Collaborative Projects

The GCP provides a framework for a broad range of collaboration activities of interest to GÉANT. These can be small or large collaborative projects or specific components of such projects initiated by members or individuals from the community and administered/commissioned by the GÉANT Association. GÉANT provides support to a variety of collaborative projects that are important to the community in order to ensure that they have the necessary coordinators and infrastructure to function well. In essence, the support provided is very similar to that for a TF or SIG – normally in the form of a professional secretariat for the project – but these projects are typically self-sustained by the community and funding (if any) is not from the EC. Current projects supported include REFEDS, WISE, GLIF and the GeGC. Support for these projects includes some or all of the following functions:
  • Coordinator role.
  • Meeting support (both virtual and face to face).
  • Invoicing (REFEDS and GLIF).
  • Infrastructure support (wiki, website, mailing lists, hosting, VC).

4.5 Collaborative Services

Through its TFs, SIGs and collaborative projects, the GCP can identify activities within the supported thematic areas that are of a service nature and that benefit the community as a whole. GÉANT provides support to the Community Programme to confirm the viability of such services and support their incubation, with the intent to make such services self-sustaining. The services should be inclusive, and intended to be open and accessible to all participants in the community at large. The Community Programme, together with the materially contributing stakeholders of the service, will advise on the strategic direction and development of the services so created.

4.5.1 GÉANT Community Innovation and Service/Product Lifecycle

This section describes the GÉANT Community Programme’s process for developing innovation from idea to project to service. The four main stages of innovation are usually identified as:
  1. Ideation – Basic research and conception.
  2. Project Selection – The decision to develop an idea further (invest people, time and money).
  3. Product Development – Building the product or service.
  4. Operationalisation – Bringing the product or service to market and adapting it to customer demands.
All four stages need to be sufficiently supported within an organisation for innovation to systemically happen. One of the prerequisites of innovation and service development is analysis of improvement opportunities, gathering the ideas. For this stage, having a systematic ideation process is key. Currently, new ideas in the GÉANT community come either from individual members of NRENs or from TFs, SIGs and workshops on specific topics, but are not systematically solicited or managed on a regular basis. During the preparation of the GN4-3 project, white papers provided the main opportunity to gather innovative ideas, in cycles of four years; in the current volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, this may no longer be agile or sustainable enough. The GCC will therefore discuss additional opportunities to gather ideas with the GN4-3 Project Management Office (PMO), for example, as part of the Project Annual Internal Review (PAIR) process. Some TFs have developed more agile environments for innovation (e.g. a wiki open to all TF members to record new ideas), but others could use similar mechanisms. Additionally, top-down initiatives and coordination (possibly requiring the involvement of the GÉANT Programme Planning Committee (GPPC) or Oversight Committee (OC)) might be beneficial and provide focus, which might in turn provide a broader product palette, improved sustainability and scalability. GCC Role

There are two areas of service/product development in the GÉANT community to which the GCC can significantly contribute: systematic ideation and also a phase-out process (decision that a service has expired). In addition to the processes already in place, the GCC will take a strategic role in the idea-gathering and coordination process by:
  1. Annual analysis of technological trends and innovations with particular relevance to the GÉANT community, producing white papers and/or position papers.
  2. Providing clear channels to systematically gather innovation ideas within TFs, SIGs and NRENs. The GCC is also considering the idea of an electronic “idea submission box” for gathering individual ideas.
  3. Providing a screening and filtering process for ideas gathered, as well as coordinating TFs and SIGs in selecting and further developing ideas.
Similar steps could be put in place for the GCC to provide strategic direction and recommendations for phasing out existing services and products. Both of these stages of the innovation and product lifecycle could form part of the same procedure – asking for new ideas at the same time as gathering suggestions for abandoning obsolete services – with the overall aim of ensuring a transparent and agile innovation process allowing new services to reach a broad audience as fast as possible.

4.6 Thematic Areas Currently Supported

Thematic areas are formed and continuously evolve from the needs of the GÉANT community. The areas currently supported (as at April 2020) are as follows.

The Thematic Areas that are currently supported by the Community Programme are listed here.


BoF                  Birds of a Feather

GCC                 GÉANT Community Committee

GeGC               Global eduroam Governance Committee

GLIF                 Global Lambda Integrated Facility

GPPC               GÉANT Programme Planning Committee

NREN               National Research and Education Network

NPAPW            Network Performing Arts Production Workshop

OC                   Oversight Committee

PAIR                Project Annual Internal Review

PMO                Project Management Office

R&E                 Research and Education

REFEDS            Research and Education Federations

SIG                   Special Interest Group

SIG-CISS           SIG on Cloudy Interoperable Software Stacks

SIG-ISM            SIG on Information Security Management

SIG-Marcomms SIG on Marketing Communications

SIG-MSP           SIG on Management of Service Portfolios

SIG-Multimedia SIG on Multimedia Applications

SIG-NGN          SIG on Next-Generation Networking

SIG-NOC           SIG on Network Operations Centres

SIG-PMV          SIG on Performance Monitoring and Verification

SIG-TNE           SIG on Transnational Education

TF                    Task Force

TF-CSIRT           TF on Computer Security Incident Response Teams

TF-DPR             TF on Data Protection Regulation

TF-EDU             TF on Educational Services and Activities

TF-RED             TF on Research Engagement Development

VUCA               Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous

WISE                Wise Information Security for Collaborating e-Infrastructures

Vision & Mission

Connected, collaborative and harmonised research and education networking community.

Provide optimal conditions for the R&E networking communities to collaborate both face-to-face and virtually. Create mechanisms to enable participation and inclusion.

The Community Programme Portfolio is outlined here.

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