Virtual Set Fcom Project

Funded in 2024 –

The project is an interactive online environment using a virtual set to to simulate audiovisual learning and creation processes. The environment consists of a virtual TV studio with three sets, to interactively manage lighting and filming schemes, based on the following functionality/usability scenario: five users with Quest 3 virtual reality glasses take on the roles of cinematographer, director, and three camera operators. Each user occupies the space through an avatar that allows them to move through the space and to modify the position and configuration of different light sources, as well as the cameras. In the latter case, control parameters related to the basic principles of photography are integrated, interacting consistently from a technical standpoint with the space and the arranged light sources. Additionally, these users can communicate with each other through the virtual space.


AppIntMeet Project

Funded in 2023 –

The project developed an innovative way to embed external tools into eduMEET, a web-conferencing tool created by the GÉANT community. eduMEET has proven itself as a secure alternative to tools like Zoom or WebEx, in that it is based on WebRTC and users do not need to install additional software. The AppIntMeet solution allows a participant with the appropriate rights, to open an external webpage for all participants. The webpage appears as a separate box within the eduMEET layout, just like screen sharing. All participants can immediately interact with the external platform. Each participant can decide, if to full screen the tool or work in the eduMEET layout, seeing all videos while working in the tool. The project result allows all participants to immediately interact with the chosen external tool without leaving the videoconferencing window. The  AppIntMeet extension offers wide flexibility, allowing to open online tools like whiteboards, polls, doodles, etc.


ADDITIONAL project

Funded in 2022 –

A grant to support “Advanced Deep Learning-based Analysis of Network Traffic Generated by Communication-and-Collaboration Apps used in COVID-19 pandemic” (ADDITIONAL) was awarded in 2022 to the CINI  research unit at the University of Napoli Federico II, Italy. The project page is available at https://traffic.comics.unina.it/ADDITIONAL/.

The project aims at applying advanced Deep Learning methods to support two critical tasks in managing modern networks: 1) traffic classification (i.e., associating observed traffic with the application that generated it) and 2) fine-grained prediction (i.e., forecasting traffic behavior, knowing the kind of application generating it).”

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the usage of communication-and-collaboration apps (Discord, GotoMeeting, Meet, Messenger, Skype, Slack, Teams, Webex, and Zoom) by mobile users. This sudden shift in Internet traffic poses a challenge to efficient network management and calls for enhanced network analytics tools able to overcome traditional monitoring techniques requiring time-consuming human experts’ intervention to adapt to the new conditions. Accordingly, ADDITIONAL aims at designing, implementing, and evaluating innovative tools based on Artificial Intelligence methodologies, with particular reference to Deep Learning architectures, to support network traffic classification and prediction. Given the heterogeneous and large-scale landscape of mobile apps, the focus is on gathering fine-grained network visibility. The proposal matches the interests of the scientific community, being beneficial to network providers, customers, and researchers.

The ADDITIONAL project duration is five months. Works include (i) the collection and annotation of the dataset, then (ii) a systematic study of the classification and prediction performance of state-of-the-art approaches, and finally (iii) the research and experimental validation of novel and improved classification and prediction approaches.

The ADDITIONAL proposal was relayed to the Vietsch Foundation by GÉANT through its Innovation Programme

 

 


MARLIN Project

Funded in 2022 – The Vietsch Foundation announces a new grant to fund the MARLIN project, to support “Reliable user identification to grant access to local resources as well as secure remote access to scientific content”. The project was relayed to the Vietsch Foundation by GÉANT through its Innovation Programme.

Universities, research institutes and schools offer researchers and students a variety of local resources (class rooms, multimedia rooms, meeting rooms, libraries, etc.), specific equipment, and services, such print and scan. 

Eduroam provides end users with access to the Wi-Fi local networks, but doesn’t provide access to restricted locations, such as a multimedia room, for example. Moreover, this doesn’t allow users to access local resources, such a simple printing services, of a remote institution they happen to be hosted at.

The project promises to develop a novel way to access local resources using secure authentication and authorization mechanisms, together with the ability to acknowledge the user’s identity, using biometric data though smart devices, which most of the users carry in their pockets on a daily basis. 

The project runs for one year and will result in a prototype with the following features: 

  1. Secure access to content (university intranet portal) with ability to author document with verified user’s identity
  2. Access institution local resources 
    • Using a printer in a 3rd party institution where the user is temporary located 
    • Access a restricted room (laboratory) in a 3rd party institution where the user is temporary located 

The prototype is going to be tested and implemented at the Laboratory of Telematics of the Bulgaria Academy of Science (LT-BAS ). 

 

 


Vietsch Foundation and GÉANT project to support Ukrainian Research and Education Network

Funded in 2022 – The Vietsch Foundation and the GÉANT Association have started a project to support URAN, the research and education network of Ukraine and a member of GÉANT.

As the war in Ukraine goes on URAN will need our support and help more than ever, not just to survive but to stay as safe as possible and where possible to maintain and rebuild.

GÉANT and Europe’s NRENs will donate funds to primarily address URAN’s cash flow challenges and help to ensure URAN’s survival as an NREN. Whilst the war has heavily affected URAN’s many users who are currently unable to operate themselves and are therefore unable to pay for URAN services, URAN faces ongoing operational costs and is therefore at severe risk itself.

The funds donated to the Vietsch Foundation will be reserved only for the purpose of this project. The reservation is bound to the proposals as formulated by URAN and GÉANT in the pursuit of the objectives stated in the project agreement, and thus help to preserve the knowledge and skills of the Ukrainian NREN.


eduDNS Project

Funded in 2022 – The Vietsch Foundation announces a new grant to fund the project eduDNS, a Dynamic DNS service for Academia, eduDNS was relayed to the Vietsch Foundation by GÉANT through its Innovation Programme.

Nowadays, more and more services are dynamically deployed in Cloud environments. Usually, the services hosted on virtual machines in Cloud are accessible only via IP addresses or pre-configured hostnames given by the target Cloud providers, making it difficult to provide them with meaningful domain names. Dynamic DNS services exist to alleviate this problem, but none of them is scoped to the Academic realm.

The eduDNS project will provide a universal, vendor-independent Dynamic DNS support for research and education users. Service owners will log in the eduDNS portal via eduTEAMS, register meaningful, memorable hostnames (e.g. service-portal.vo.edudns.eu), assign the hostnames to their servers then provide access to their services via the hostnames.

eduDNS will simplify the deployment of services that are dynamically deployed in Cloud infrastructures. It removes the obstacles of changing IP addresses of services in Cloud at every deployment and enables obtaining SSL certificates for the hostnames. Service providers can migrate services from local servers to Cloud or from a Cloud site to another without noticing users from the change.

The project started at the beginning of 2022 and will end in Summer 2022 with a prototype of eduDNS service deployed at IISAS (Institute of Informatics, Slovak Academy of Sciences) and IFCA (Instituto de Física de Cantabria).


AALD Project

Funded in 2021 – The Vietsch Foundation announces a new project grant on Academic Achievement and Learning Diaries (AALD).

Epistemic cognition, like the justification of knowledge, is a growing theme in learning analytics. It is highly topical in the era of MOOCs and conflicting resources of knowledge.

AALD aims to increase the scientific understanding of students’ epistemic thinking related to learning analytics applications. This information is vital for making advancements in designing new applications to measure and monitor student success.

The application used to record student experience is a structured learning diary that allows higher education students to prepare for classes, make notes, and reflect on their learning experience afterward. Our research expands the dataset to include student interviews, student register data, and questionnaires (pre-test, post-test, and two delayed post-test questionnaires).

AALD contributes to publishing two scientific open access articles, a public web page describing the structured diary tool contents, and main findings summary of the project. In addition, a public presentation will be given as part of a relevant conference. The project timeline is from Oct 2021 to Jan 2022. Publications’ should be open after the review processes later in 2022.

For more information: Ville Kivimäki, University of Helsinki, ville.kivimaki@helsinki.fi

 


Targeted Online – A publication on how AdTech works

 

Funded in 2020 – The Vietsch Foundation funded the publication of “Targeted Online”, a handbok by the European Digital Rights (EDRi), an association of civil and human rights organisations from across Europe.

The web has become a place where visiting a webpage triggers many effects elsewhere, where advertising technology results in a surveillance ecosystem. Yet people still think of the ‘friendly’ world wide web of the nineties. The “Targeted Onlie” handbook is intended for curious internet users who want to understand the internet’s dominant business model, how tech companies use (and abuse) data, why some ads are eerily creepy and others so foolishly wrong. The handbook explains how online advertising works, and why a reform of the entire online advertising industry is urgently needed.

The “Targeted Online” handbook can be dowloaded here. For more informtion visit the EDRI website.


EMREX project

The Vietsch Foundation announces a new grant to CSC for a project to expand the EMREX network to the EU and beyond.

EMREX is a solution for transferring student data internationally in a machine-readable way. It consists of two parts: the technical solution and the international network (EMREX user group – EUG) enabling and developing the activities. EMREX originated as an EU-funded project 2015-2017, aiming to simplify and increase the quality of the credit transfer process after a student exchange. At present, EMREX is operational in a number of countries in Europe. It is a technical solution used to securely exchange educational data between students and third parties, for example higher education institutions (HEIs) or potential employers. In this way, EMREX can facilitate student mobility and decrease the administrative burden of student exchanges for the institutions. EMREX uses an open source technical solution, through which different kinds of educational data can be transferred, be it transcript of records or entire diplomas.

The Vietsch Foundation grant will serve two objectives:

  • Industrializing the EMREX registry and reviewing the ELMO standard
  • Dissemination of EMREX services and building the EMREX brand

This will help EMREX to make a step-change towards a self-standing service which creates value to students and organizations in Europe and also globally.


Science Checker Project

Funded in 2020/21 – The Science Checker project built a free to access search engine, developing a novel approach that verifies scientific claims by means of analysing the pertinent and available scientific literature. The science-checker.opscidia.com is now publicly available.

The subject of fake news is a very topical one. With social networks, and the advances of artificial intelligence, it is increasingly easier to create fake news and make them circulate quicker and quicker. Health and sciences are particularly nasty topic for fake news. Scam medicine, and worrisome information circulate, often based on absolutely no scientific facts. The current context of Covid19 pandemic has made the need to tackle this crisis in the scientific information even more serious. 

The grant was awarded to Opscidia, a startup which develops artificial intelligence tools that make use of open access articles to accelerate innovation, promote sound policies and help providing rigorous information to the general public. Thanks to the Vietsch Foundation grant, Opscidia will build a prototype online application that allows to check scientific fake news. This prototype will consist in different types of indicators based on the analysis of large volumes of scientific articles. These indicators will be easy to understand in order for the non-specialists to form quickly a good idea of whether an information is backed by the scientific literature, is under debate, or is totally groundless.


New project: “Free and Open Source: Law, policy and practice” edited by Amanda Brock

The second edition of “Free and Open Source: Law, policy and practice” edited by Amanda Brock, has been published by Oxford University Press, as an “open access title” with pdf, html and e-reader freely available on an attribution basis, thanks to the generous funding of the Vietsch foundation.

The book is available for download, Open Access, as well as in printed format by Oxford University Press at this OUP link.

When we decided to fund this project we were particularly attracted by what Amanda Brock, told us: “ having managed to persuade an amazing group of contributors to write chapters for the second edition, we will create what I believe will be one of the most important collaborations in open source in 2020. It’s great that the legal and other advisory and support communities around open source, have been willing to pull together and commit their time to create this work. We will be going beyond the European slant of the first edition to a global viewpoint with authors from the US, including Stephen Walli and Ross Gardler on community and governance, Mark Radcliffe on Blockchain and McCoy Smith on copyright. All areas of IP will be covered. Miriam Ballhausen, will pick up on copyright litigation considering recent actions in her home country, Germany and Canonical’s Jilayne Lovejoy will write about contribution agreements. On the patent front, as well as an update of the existing chapter on Patent litigation from the Origin team, Peter Langley and Colm McKernan and Malcolm Bain’s introduction to patents, we will be joined by Knut Blind writing on standard essential patents and his recent report from the Commission. Pam Chesteck is of course covering trade marks while Carlo Piano considers competition and antitrust issues.

Mirko Böhme will explain the economic of open source and Andre Katz will look at All Things Open and open hardware. The Linux Foundation’s Shane Coughlan will write on Open Chain and Kate Stewart on SPDX while Redhat’s Richard Fontana and David Levine will write on Cloud. Iain Mitchell will look at public sector and Open Forum Europe’s Sachiko Muto public policy.

As well as editing, I will be looking at commercial and operational models in open source.

It will be an incredibly practical and useful text for lawyers, open source offices and people working on compliance, suitable for academics and those working at the code face.

The icing on the cake for me as editor of this book is to know that the book will be available to all through open access thanks to the Veitsch Foundation.

Look out for further updates on the book status over the next few months.”


Development of a Proposal for a Trusted Student Identification Framework

Funded in 2019 – The Vietsch Foundation funds a study by the European Campus Card Association (ECCA) that will encompass requirements for cross-border trusted student eID credentials, and provide recommendations for a trusted student eID framework to support the provision of secure identification and authentication on a cross-border basis in Europe.

The study started on 10 September 2019 and will end in May 2020 with the publication of a report surveying state of the art and business aspects and issuing recommendations for the establishment of a cross-border Student eID Project.


Diamond Key Security Microsoft CryptoAPI Integration

Funded in 2019 – The project aimed to create and develop the software application programming interface (API) and perform the necessary integration and validation steps for the DKS hardware security module, the Diamond-HSM™, to support and function with the Microsoft CryptoAPI (often referred to as “CAPI”).  Developing this integration to communicate with the Microsoft operating system will dramatically increase the reach of security solutions among non-profit higher education networks driving scientific research and innovation.

In partnership with the Vietsch Foundation, Diamond Key Security (DKS) is excited to make available under a permissive BSD clause 3 open-source license software, software installation, and related documentation to enable DKS and CrypTech solutions to integrate with and support Windows networking environments. 

The installation documentation provides information and instructions so that the software can be installed in a Windows network environment for either usage for signing by a Windows Certificate Authority (CA) (for various applications like DNS) or for a developers utilizing Diamond-HSM solutions or CrypTech solutions.


New project in the Research and Higher Education Technology Fund

The Vietsch Foundation has decided to fund a new project under the NLnet Research and Higher Education Technology Fund :

TRACKING EXPOSED

Algorithms are the technological solution to the information overload: they are as powerful as necessary to manage the overflow of data that reaches us. Unfortunately, they can also conceal the existence and use of assessments and judgments that impact the dissemination of ideas and culture. No one should be allowed to abuse such power over connected people. At this stage, consent is nor informed nor optional.

The main objective of the project is to put a spotlight on users’ tracking, profiling, on the data market and on the influence of algorithms. As long as these phenomena are shielded from view or understood only by experts, they cannot be tackled with the political determination that problems of such magnitude deserve. That is why we strive to explain the issue, test and promote new solutions, developed to benefit the community.

Project URL https://tracking.exposed/


Democratic Sendcomm

Funded in 2018 – The project aims to build a user-friendly connected telemetry appliance with just enough configuration to teach democratic communication while keeping the learning curve flat. The main deliverable will be a Opensource design of cheap yet high performance LoRa devices in form factors appropriate for one low-power platform (like BBC Micro:bit) and one high-power platform (like Minnowboard Turbot). Work will include a sample production run of 1000 units for one of the form factors and suitable documentation for educational purposes. This project is jointly supported by the Vietsch Foundation and the NLnet Foundation.


Explain Direct

Funded in 2018 –  Open source technical solutions for analyzing, recommending, and querying open educational materials within the context of higher education. This collaborative project between the Web Information Systems group of TU Delft and FeedbackFruits, aims at piloting new and more effective access paradigms for Online Open Courseware. In most cases, online educational material is intended to be consumed in a traditional course-based manner. The project is working on making access to educational material easier, targeted and direct, re-usable and more tailored to life-long learning scenarios.

Project URL https://explain.direct/


The Referoo project to Improve the Efficiency of Scientific Peer-Reviewing

Funded in 2018

– The Referoo project aims to create a set of tools to address some of the most critical inefficiencies of the traditional peer-reviewing process of scientific publications. In particular, it will build a web portal for managing the refereeing tasks of researchers. The portal will be designed in such a way as to encourage referees to perform their duties conscientiously and efficiently, and provide them with clearer incentives. At the same time, the portal will implement tools to avoid the inefficiencies and the work duplication of the usual refereeing process.


EduVPN Programme

Funded in 2017

– eduVPN is an initiative to make VPN technology commonly available, by building better and more user-friendly tools.

We live in a society that wants to be online whenever possible, and WiFi is popular technology for achieving this. Unlike the “home” situation which could be described as a trusted network, we also make heavy use of public offerings of WiFi, which we describe as guest networks, and which are in a special position that could make them perform a number of rogue attacks on our connections.

A number of dangers of using WiFi on such guest networks has been identified, and methods of running a trusted network over such potentially rogue connections have been devised. EduVPN is an implementation of such facilities which was originally designed with educational institutions as an audience.

 


Searsia Project

Funded in 2017

– Searsia is an open source engine and a protocol, created by academic researchers. The Searsia software is open source and available from the Searsia project website.

Searsia provides the means to create a personal, private, and configurable search engine, that combines search results freely from a very large number of sources. Searsia enables existing sources to cooperate such that they together provide a search service that resembles today’s large search engines. In addition to using external services at will, you can also use it to integrate whatever private information from within your organisation – so your users or community can use a single search engine to serve their needs.

Using Searsia you can :

* Manage and share large collections of independent sources;
* Select for each query the most relevant sources;
* Combine sources in an aggregated search interface;
* Searsia learns over time what kind of information each source provides.

To see it in action check the search engine of the University of Twente that combines the results of about 30 sources, including results from Google’s web crawl, from Courses, from News, the Telephone directory, the Timetables, as well as results from social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Flickr.


FedLab Test Harness

Funded in 2016

– Federated Identity Management (FIM) is being used increasingly for different Internet applications, including web and mobile. The demand for cross-organizational collaboration and the proliferation of cloud applications is driving the demand to federate identities. To support FIM there are two main protocols established: SAML and OAUTH2/OIDC, with SAML being used in the majority of use cases for cross-organizational collaboration.

Interoperability between products for FIM, in particular commercial offerings, is still an issue 11 years after the SAML V2 standard was published. Many products lack conformance to the SAML profiles used in federations, leading to extra effort in the integration process. While standards and specifications are available, implementations frequently do not follow these.

There are no comprehensive testing suites available that would provide the metrics to get better. The GÉANT project had funded initial efforts to remedy this situation, which resulted in a proof of concept implementation of a SAML2 test tool, published at Federation Labs (www.fed-lab.org). In the meantime, related test suites have been developed for OIDC has just been initiated.

This project is underway to take FedLab from its current status as a research project and bring it towards service operation. This phase will focus on making a comprehensive test suite available at Federation Labs, which features an improved architecture that will allow improved flexibility in test configurations and easier to use for deployers. It shall establish a community process by being open source, allowing users to contribute and improve test cases and profiles.

As a result, we expect to improve the conformance of products to increase and show clearly where products are failing to meet the profile. Improvements will trickle down in implementations and make federation integration quicker and cheaper. For the end user, access to external resources without giving up security and data protection will proliferate.