The Dominican Research Network

RED DOMINICANA DE INTERCAMBIO PARA EL DESARROLLO (REDID)

FUNREDES, 2/10/93

STATUS

The Dominican Research Network (REDID) is currently in a phase of user growth, user support organization, institutional structuring, and user participation which is executed by the Board of Directors with the support of FUNREDES and UNDP.

REDID was born in 1992, with 25 institutions members, reached a total of 50 users and 40 Institutions after the first year, and is scheduled to reach 200 users by end of 1994. So far, the access is reserved to researchers from any type of institutions linked to research (Universities, NGOs, Public Centers, International Organizations).

REDID plan for the next year are: -to continue it's user growth figure, -improve the level of user participation in the association,
-reinforce the institutional level, -provide full Internet capability, -install Internet application softwares (like Gopher), -start the effort toward filling the network content, -encourage the main universities to create their own local networking capabilities,
-paticipate to the Caribbean integration process.

BACKGROUND

REDID is the result of an effort conducted by the REDALC's Project Office of Union Latina and has been designed as a pilot project within the frame of the REDALC project. Other International Agencies has participated in the process (UNESCO/CRESALC and UNDP).

REDALC (Red de America Latina y el Caribe) is a project from Union Latina, which started in 1988, aiming at providing a comprehensive long range solution for research networks in Latin America and the Caribbean, putting the emphasis in the following:
-User involvement (participative process, user interfaces, managing budget in term of cost per users, user training), -Network content (applications and directories), -Regional integration (telecommunication tax exemption, regional satellite backbone, regional administration), -Participation to the national and regional development (involvement of the industrial sector, negotiation with Telecommunication Operators)
-The uppermost importance of the organisational and social aspects compared to the technical ones. -The required federation of the International support.

The REDALC project has involved, during a complete feasibility study, several International Agencies: -EEC, (DG1 and DG13) for the funding, -UNESCO (PGI and CRESALC) for the part of the studies dealing with the content of the network, -Union Latina (REDALC Office) for the coordination of the study and the overall strategy,
-ACAL participated in a contract basis from Unesco.

Union Latina, has conducted a set of side operations aiming at offering a benchmark field for the study concepts and to keep its action's level on a ground basis:

-Managing a listserv about research and research networks in the region (REDALC@FRMOP11),
-Conceptualizing of a systematic methodology to launch Research Networks in Developing Countries, see references 1, 2, 3,
-Participation in the launch of the Peruvian Research Network (RCP) together with UNDP and national actors (12/91), see reference 4,
-Coordinating the birth of the Dominican Network (7/92), see reference 3,
-Organizing the Haitian Network (REHRED), see references 4 and 5,
-Designing a state of the art, PC based, multi lingua, user interface to research networks aiming at making them appear to users as other similar computer resources (Software
MULBRI/DOS, version BITNET/VM/SIMPC and version
UUCP/UUPC), see reference 6,
-Cooperating with Unesco in the first benchmark for Network User training done for REDID (July 1992), see reference 7, -many other activities oriented related to networking (conferences, publications, studies), see references 8 and above.

By September 1st, 1993, the REDALC Office transformed, with the support of Union Latina, into an international NGO: FUNREDES (Fundacion Redes y Desarrollo), took over the REDALC team and activities and expand them.

II REDID HISTORY

The REDID concept emerges from the REDALC workshop which was held in Santo Domingo in July 1991. The objective of the meetings was primarily oriented toward regional considerations for the REDALC working group. However the group of Dominican researcher who attended the meeting expressed their will to have the REDALC Office of Union Latina considers the launch of a Dominican network as part of a pilot project.

Progressively, a user group mechanism was articulated, below the pressure of the future users and with the support of the Redalc's Office. The process involved five group meetings from August 1991 to February 1992 and serve as a sound basis for the learning curve and participation building mechanisms. The user critical mass (50 people) was reached in the third group meeting, in December 1991 and the group splits into seven thematic committees coordinated by a steering committee, each one with specific objectives. The process created a natural ferment for the appearance of people having both institutional representativeness and working capabilities. The tasks set up by the committees were in general conducted to completion (Status document, logo, budget, promotion, and so on). The steering committee met five times to conduct the process to its end.

In parallel a negotiation process with the main national Operator CODETEL (a GTE-subsidiary) was pursued by the REDALC Office, on REDID behalf, and the principle of the sponsoring accepted. Codetel would offer free of charge for a 18 month period the complete technical solution based on the fee X25 access to a logical partition of it's own commercial e-mail system (CODEMAIL), and assure the cost of the international link up to the Puerto Rico research network (which had set up also an agreement with REDID to carry the messages to the Internet).

Theses points, the presence of the International Agency, and the growing involvement of the people allow the path toward the creation of a legal Institution with the formally expressed support of the main Research Institutions of the country.

The 29th of April of 1992 was held the REDID Constitutive Assembly with the presence of 25 Institutions. The first Board (see annex 1) was elected for a transitory year and immediately took over its responsibility.

The same day the technical set up tuning process was completed in collaboration between the REDALC Office and Codetel and the network was publicly announced in various international listservs and a specialized journal.

In July 1992, the first Regional Telematic User Training Workshop was organized by CRESALC/Unesco, REDALC Office and REDID. Close to 100 Dominican researchers participated to a full week conference with the presence of 20 international experts. Three other training efforts have been organized later, oriented towards the needs of the users (two on the use of MULBRI and one for information retrieval in batch mode).

In September 1992, the UNDP local Education Office provide the REDALC Office with the operational budget, as part of Plan Decennal, in order to allow completion, by the end of the year, of the first step installation process.

In June 1993, the second Plenary Assembly was held. The balance of the first year was made, new Institutions were incorporated, and REDID reached the level of 40 Institution Members (see annex 2) and some 70 end-users (see annex 3). The second Board of Directors was elected (see annex 4).

In September 1993, the UNDP offered to FUNREDES the budget in order to complete the second year of installation process and the process of user support, listserv creation and moderation, user interface improvement. III CONCLUSION

The stepping of the network creation can be conceptualized as such:

  1. Sensitization (7/91 to 12/91)
  2. Rooting (12/91 to 2/92)
  3. Creation (3/92 to 5/92)
  4. Launch (5/92 to 7/92)
  5. Initial use (8/92 to 12/92)
  6. Growth and link with researchers abroad (1993)
  7. Content orientation (1994).

The first balance of the experience demonstrated: -a better involvement of researchers from NGOs than from the University,
-the difficulty to maintain the user participation to sustain the process,
-the difficulty to have the universities getting organized in front of this new technology.

Although a participation fee of some 250 US$ per institution was forecasted, it has not been yet applied. The actual Board of Director is considering the application of the fee in the next future.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

(1) "Research Networks in Developping Countries: Not

Exactly the Same Story", D. Pimienta, Proceedings of INET93, San Francisco,

(2) "Crear redes de investigadores en paises en desarrollo es otra historia", Taller de formacion de usuarios de redes, Santo Domingo, 7/92

  1. "REDALC Methodology", D. Pimienta, Matrix News, 9/93

(4 "The Peruvian Network", D. Pimienta, Internet Society News, Vol.1, NÝ2, 92.

  1. "The Dominican Network", D. Pimienta, Internet Society News, Vol.1, NÝ3, 92

  2. "Training user Workshop", UNESCO/CRESALC....

  3. "MULBRI, a State of the Art PC Based Interface to Research Networks", Didier Dupuy D'Angeac, Daniel Pimienta, Network Service Conference, Pise, 11/92

  4. "Toward the Haitian Network", D. Pimienta, Internet Society News, Vol.2, NÝ2, 93

  5. "Plan for the Haitian Network", D. Pimienta, Matrix News, 8/93

  6. "La Comunicacion Mediante Computadora: una esperanza para el sector cientifico del tercer mundo: la experiencia REDALC en America Latina", Taller de Vigilia Tecnologica, Daniel Pimienta, Caracas, 3/93, y publicacion en Revista Educacion y Sociedad

  7. "Brochure FUNREDES"

Explicar en cada referencia si y como se puede recuperar por Internet.

ANNEX:

  1. First Board of Directors

  2. List of Institutions members

  3. List of end-users

  4. Second Board of Directors .