During the last 15 years the Internet has become a global network. We have collaborated in building a truly open information and communication network of networks, and in empowering the end users. It has been the decade of the Net.
During the last decade “The Net” has become the global “meme”, the keyword. Everyone, everywhere, everything was called to be “on the net”. The computer became the network. The information became the Web. The media was online. The network became social. Now even things (IoT) are on the net.
i2CAT was born as a research and innovation project in 1999 to grasp this opportunity . We wanted the Catalan country needs to become an active player into the internet era, and i2CAT become the key organisation to do so. i2CAT was part of the emerging Catalan Internet community that pioneered some interesting contributions in the 90s. This community led the creation of one the first Internet Society chapters in 1995, ISOC-CAT, one of the first in the world; the setting up of a lively community of digital journalist like Vilaweb in 1996; the beginning of the first fully Internet-based open university, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, also in 1996, or the achievement of “.CAT” being the first culture in the world to be assigned a Top Level Domain by ICANN.
i2CAT emerged, as part of such community, from different research groups at the UPC, and inspired by the US Internet2 initiative. The i2CAT “DNA” is expressed in its name: connecting next generation Internet technology to the Catalan community, and to support the Catalan research and innovation community to influence the global Internet evolution.
i2CAT Foundation has worked with leading Internet research groups around the world. It has pioneered with the best Canadian optical research groups in developing the user-controlled lambda paths system (UCLP), explored DARPA-funded software for putting high definition media technology over Internet, and participated in developing wireless protocol standards at the IETF, among many other activities. Moreover, i2CAT has pioneered user-driven innovation models with the Finnish-led European living lab community, along with the latest concepts of open innovation.
Over the last decade i2CAT has supported the basic principles of the Internet research community in its global expansion process:
- An open user-driven end-to-end architecture.
- An open network for research and innovation
At the same time, i2CAT has produced some original contributions from Catalonia to the global Internet.
- i2CAT has been a pioneer in developing the vision of an Internet of cultures through the application of the next generation Internet to the world of arts and culture with projects like Open Opera, the first HD transmission of a live opera in 2001, or the subsequent creation of the Cultural Ring, which connects public exhibition spaces in our country. Catalonia is a country with its own culture and language that has a global impact with cities like Barcelona, and i2CAT has contributed to laying the foundation to connect the future of the Internet with a global creative economy.
- In 2000, i2CAT participated in the media House project started by a leading group of Catalan architects (metapolis) and the MIT in setting up the first 1:1 Internet home, based on the idea “the house is the computer, its structure is the network”. It was a kind of first “smart building”. In fact the same group is now leading the current smart cites movement in Barcelona with initiatives like the City protocol and the City as an Operating System, opening up a renewed global perspective to the Catalan architect and urban planning community.
- i2CAT has been a precursor of network experimentation at the EC research programs. i2CAT experience on building experimental infrastructures, together with novel virtualization management paradigms (i2CAT has an experimental network infrastructure along the Barcelona metropolitan area) was the pioneer of the first project of its kind during the past FP7 research program of the European Commission. The project that brought this experimentation at the EU level was FEDERICA (Federated E-infrastructure Dedicated to European Researchers Innovating in Computing network Architectures). This project was one of the key actors on the creation of a new unit within the EC devoted to Future Internet Research Experimentation (FIRE) where i2CAT has participated in many project and initiatives for the last 5 years.
- Together with some other partners around Europe, i2CAT has been a pioneer on the extension of the IaaS concept to the network infrastructures, and the convergence of NET + IT. This work started with the Phosphorus project, and continued with GEYSERS, Mantychore and many others. One of the key assets developed is the OpenNaaS open source framework for the offering of NaaS functionalities and support of SDN and NFV.
- Together with the Catalan health community we have also pioneered the setting up of leading e-health projects such as the first Digital Radiology Network or the first Teleictus network, now in operation throughout the Catalan public health system. Catalonia has one of the best health systems in the world and in 2010 i2CAT, along with Sant Pau Hospital, was proud to launch the first joint research centre on next generation internet and health , i2Health Sant Pau, based on a user-driven innovation approach.
- As Catalonia is still an industrial country, i2CAT has created the Industrial Ring. Inspired by the previously mentioned Cultural Ring, i2CAT has gathered the leading automotive companies, industrial designers, entrepreneurs, supercomputing centres and research networks to build a community based on next generation Internet technologies to show that a new networking form of industrial collaboration is possible in order to achieve global competitiveness.
- Finally, in 2006 i2CAT was recognised as one of the first European members of the Living Lab community. i2CAT has since the beginning been conceived as a people, private and public collaboration, following a distinctive trait of the Catalonia civil society tradition which has fostered successful citizen initiatives in areas like education, health or sports. The i2CAT structure was inspired by this social background but applied to the new field: the research and innovation system, a system that has just started in Catalonia during last 10 years. The expansion of the Internet has coincided with the creation of such an R&D system in Catalonia. i2CAT has developed a new institution that embodies some of the new principles that Internet is bringing into these systems, like the so-called Quadruple Helix or the co-creation process with the citizens. It has allowed i2CAT to lead the new Catalan living labs movement. Some expressions of such movements have been Citilab, the first citizen lab in Europe, and now the Barcelona Lab, a new effort with the City of Barcelona aiming to demonstrate that the whole city can be transformed into an open living lab based on the innovative contribution of the citizens themselves. If “the Internet is for everyone” was the motto of the Internet Society during last decade, “innovation comes from everyone” could be the i2CAT emblem for the years to come.