Geneva, 17 November 2005. Speaking today to international delegates meeting in Tunis for the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), CERN1 Director-General Robert Aymar highlighted some of the important achievements that CERN has contributed to since the first summit in Geneva in 2003. At the first summit, CERN worked actively to ensure that the fundamental role of science and technology in the information society was acknowledged in the agenda of the WSIS. Since then, the Laboratory has undertaken a number of actions to demonstrate its commitment to WSIS goals, including promoting the movement for Open Access to scientific information and helping to develop open-source software for the international scientific community. CERN also supports, and recently hosted a workshop on, research and education networking in Africa. This resulted in broad support for the construction of a research and education network for Africa to facilitate international scientific collaboration.
Concerning the Open Access movement, CERN advocates the establishment of open electronic repositories for all branches of publicly financed sciences in all countries. In March, CERN's executive board endorsed an open access policy for all the Laboratory's results. CERN considers that the results of publicly financed science should be a common public good.
In the area of open-source software, an example of CERN's commitment is the release in March of Scientific Linux 4.0. This popular operating system for science has been developed by the Scientific Linux development team, a collaboration of scientists and computer professionals from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago, USA, and CERN. The EU-funded EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE) project, led by CERN and with 70 institutional partners, has also released a first version of gLite, an open source middleware for operating a global Grid of scientific computing centres. Grid computing is based on the sharing of resources by scientific organizations around the world to provide the huge computing power needed for some projects. It is a technology with potentially revolutionary implications for the information society, and is often compared to the World Wide Web, which was initially developed at CERN for scientific use.
The International Workshop on African Research and Education Networking, organised by CERN, the UN University and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on 25-27 September, was a first of its kind in terms of its broad scope and level of North-South participation. It brought together key stakeholders from African academic and research institutions, international organizations, funding agencies, grass-roots initiatives, and industry representatives. Concrete recommendations on improving African networking infrastructure, derived from the workshop, provided a basis for preparations of the current WSIS, influencing the summit's agenda on this issue of key importance to Africa.
"CERN's community of 6500 researchers of 85 nationalities has benefited from the global Information Society for many years," said Robert Aymar. "Through the WSIS process, the scientific community, at CERN and elsewhere, is sharing its experience to help bring the benefits of ICT to society as a whole. We urge all nations to support the connection of all universities around the world to the international networks for open exchange and collaboration between scientists everywhere."