Gergana Petrova

Community Development Plans for 2023

Gergana Petrova

The RIPE community and other regional and national communities within our service region face unique circumstances and different challenges. The Community Development department at RIPE NCC is there to serve and help these communities. In this article, we share what we did in 2022 and our plans for 2023.

Our work in Community Development at the RIPE NCC moves in two main directions. On the one hand we try find out what the diverse needs and expectations are from RIPE NCC, pass on this feedback internally and follow up on progress. On the other hand, we keep the Community up to date on the RIPE NCC's activities and create space to discuss topics that might be useful or of interest. Here, I want to look in detail at our efforts on both fronts.

Perhaps some of you remember my article from 2022. As our focus areas have not changed substantially, I’m going to follow the same general structure.

Priority 1. Regional Community Outreach

Understanding local needs and delivering relevant content continues to be top priority for our team. Let’s go through each region in turn.

For being such a small region, South East Europe certainly poses unique challenges. The mountainous terrain and many country borders mean that the quickest mode of transportation is often by flight. However, the region is not well connected and flying between two neighbouring countries would often involve a stopover all the way to Vienna or Munich. When trying to create a community spirit, this challenge is not trivial. Once we get together, barriers fall quickly, but the fact remains that our regional meetings in South East Europe are still attended mostly by the host country and countries directly adjacent.

Our very first post-COVID event was the SEE 10 meeting in Ljubljana on 11-12 April 2022. The hybrid format led to record-breaking 294 people attending (144 onsite and 150 online). A particular highlight was the panel about the history of Internet development in former Yugoslavian nations. We also organised a virtual Internet Measurement Day in Serbia and Open Houses in Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania during which we went over the recently published country report on these countries. And of course, the RIPE 85 meeting took place in Belgrade.

Looking at 2023 we expect another successful SEE meeting – SEE 11 in Split on 4-5 April (check out agenda). We are also finally returning to Bulgaria for a RIPE NCC Days in Sofia on 27-28 June (submit a presentation | register). There are also a lot of developments around the creation of new Network Operators Groups, about which you can read further down.

Central Asia and the Caucasus is a relatively new engagement region for us. The good part (or bad depending on how you look at it) is that we have a lot of work to do! We are delighted however to be welcomed so warmly and to see so much enthusiasm from the locals. Last year we organised a virtual Internet Measurement Day in Georgia and a Central Asia Open House. The RIPE NCC Days in Tashkent, postponed from 2020, had a number of interesting presentations and resulted in a decision to develop an action plan for 2023 to boost IPv6 in Uzbekistan. We also started a new event that we hope to repeat every year – Central Asia Peering and Interconnection Forum (CAPIF) with the aim to promote peering and IXPs in Central Asia and identify opportunities to improve regional and international connectivity.

For 2023 our focus will continue to be the delivery of useful technical content and helping the local communities there become more organised. The year started with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Digital Technologies of Uzbekistan and the telecommunication operator Uzbektelecom for mutual cooperation among which - helping the development of IXPs. As part of our IPv6 action plan last month we also organised intensive trainings aiming to increase IPv6 deployment there. The next CAPIF will take place in Tashkent on 19-20 September 2023. We will also continue working with partner organisations to replicate successful activities such as the Internet Measurement Days (expect one in Kyrgyzstan in on 30 May) and the Virtual Peering Days.

Since the discontinuation of ENOG, our engagement in Eastern Europe focused on providing country-specific support. Obviously, in 2022 a lot of it focused on Ukraine. In order not to make this too long, read my colleague Alex Semenyaka’s dedicated article on RIPE NCC Engagement with Ukraine.

So far in 2023 we organised an Open House aimed at Ukraine with presentations from locals and internationals and participated in a community-organised session on the Charging Scheme. Soon we plan to publish an update to the Resilience of the Internet in Ukraine article on RIPE Labs. Our staff is also working with researchers from the French University of GEODE who are analysing the situation on site.

When it comes to the Middle East, the first post-pandemic MENOG and Peering Forum took place in Manama and attracted 184 participants. In addition to a lot of sessions on routing security, including a ROA signing party and IPv6 presentations there was a lot of content about peering, introductions from local IXPs and dedicated time for peering bilaterals.

Looking into 2023, MENOG 23 will take place in Riyadh on 11-12 October. We are also working on a project to identify policy pressures in the region that stand in the way of developments of local IXPs and will publish a list of recommendations to regulators.

We engage a lot and often with West and Central Europe. In 2022, RIPE 84 in Berlin was a very successful meeting and the first fully-hybrid one. We attended numerous community events, for which you will read more in the next few paragraphs.

2023 started with Open Houses in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and soon Iceland during which we covered the recently published Nordics country report. Also both RIPE Meetings will take place in West and Central Europe in 2023.

Beyond RIPE NCC’s service region

This year we plan to step up our efforts to attract more connections and users to our global services such as RIPE Atlas and RIS. This is why you can expect to see us at fellow RIR meetings and other community events.

Network Operator Groups (NOGs)

National NOGs are an excellent way for us to engage with the RIPE Community outside of events that the RIPE NCC organises. In 2022, we attended 19 NOGs: IRNOG*, UKNOF*, PLNOG, ESNOG*, FRNOG*, FINOG*, CSNOG*, KZNOG*, Baykal NOG*, ITNOG*, NONOG, RONOG*, GRNOG*, NLNOG*, NANOG, HRNOG*, RSNOG*, LUNOG* and GENOG*. The ones with an * also received sponsorship from us. Particular wins for the year was the creation of the Kazakhstan and Croatian NOGs, who held their first meetings on August and 10 November respectively. We also conducted a survey among NOG organisers and attendees, the results of which you can read here on RIPE Labs.

In 2023 we plan to send a staff member to most NOGs in our service region and continue delivering relevant content. We do need 2-3 months advance notice, so we can plan travel accordingly. We will continue sponsoring 1500 EUR a year to all NOGs, but will increase this amount to 2000 EUR to countries that organise two or more events a year. This year we are also supporting efforts to form Network Operators Groups in Bosnia and Turkey (TurkNOG’s 0 Day took place on 14 March!). Finally, we will continue our regular NOG Organisers’ Open Houses, the informal gatherings at RIPE Meetings as well as keep the RIPE community updated on NOG meetings through RIPE Labs.

Academic Engagement

We are delighted that academics continue to use RIPE NCC data, measurement tools and analysis (RIPE Atlas, RIS and RIPEstat) for their research and we are happy to support them. In 2022, the researchers from GEODE and the University of Thessaloniki finalised the work we funded in 2021 with the leftover RACI budget. You can watch Pavlos Sermpezis' Bias in Internet Measurement Infrastructure presentation at RIPE 84 and expect to see Louis Pétiniaud's talk on Mapping Connectivity in Central Asia at the MAT WG at RIPE 86. We also had a very active year when it comes to presenting at universities. We delivered 11 presentations to students from France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, Russia and Uzbekistan. For the first time in 2022, the RIPE Chairs and Community Development organised a special online session for students from all over our service region to invite them to join the RIPE Community and the upcoming RIPE Meeting. The RIPE Chairs also granted up to 15 free student tickets per RIPE Meeting which we advertised and distributed.

In 2023 we plan to continue all these efforts. We will deepen our research cooperation with academics and already have a few academic conferences lined up. We are also finally opening applications for RACI (the RIPE Academic Cooperation Initiative), which funds the travel and accommodation of researchers to come and present at our events. To stay on top of the application deadlines or the free student ticket possibilities, subscribe to our academic mailing list. And if you happen to be a professor teaching about networks and want us to talk about BGP routing, IPv6, network measurements, Internet governance, the RIR model etc - please write to us and we'd be happy to arrange something.

What else do we do?

Alongside the priorities outlined above, there are a number of regular Community Development activities that we will continue to support with gusto and love:

  • Run the Community Projects Fund. The initiative distributes € 250,000 a year to projects of value to the operation, resilience and sustainability of the Internet. In 2022 we supported eight amazing projects. This year, we will focus on giving completed projects a platform to share their results as well as on attracting more applications from underrepresented parts of our service region. Speaking of which, the call for applications is already open and the deadline to submit is 31 May.
  • Find speakers for RIPE NCC events and community events. Community Development is always on the lookout for find good opportunities for our staff to present at community events (check out our list of speakers). We are also on the hunt for relevant community content for the events RIPE NCC organises.
  • Maintain the Dubai office. RIPE NCC's local office in the Middle East helps us have a more effective outreach in the region. Naturally, keeping it running smoothly requires a lot of work that we need to stay on top of.
  • Future of the Internet. We continuously follow discussions around emerging Internet technologies such as the quantum Internet, SCION, green tech and others. We encourage discussion and further exploration by organising hackathons, writing RIPE Labs articles, organising topical Open Houses and encouraging external parties to submit talks at our events.
  • Support national IGF events and Internet Governance schools. We follow Internet Governance developments and provide financial support and send speakers to national IGF events and Internet Governance schools in our service region.
  • Engage RIPE NCC staff. Our work is very interesting and motivating not just to us, but to all staff. We share the highlights through staff presentations, deliver training and onboarding to new colleagues, write staff blog posts, and generally try to keep everyone up-to-date with what's going on in the RIPE Community.
  • Country Intelligence Project. As the name suggests, this project aims to increase our understanding of the specific situation, processes, needs, regulations and developments in every country in our service region. While this is going to be a never ending effort, we are making good progress with a big chunk of counties updated in 2023.
  • Increase diversity in our events and projects. While diversity has many aspects, we are particularly focusing on getting more women, young people and academics to our events, as well providing language translation at events in certain regions.

This is the rough outline of what we plan to do in 2023. I welcome any ideas, suggestions or comments and would be happy to answer any questions - please do not hesitate to write to me.


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About the author

Gergana Petrova is the Community Development Manager at RIPE NCC. She helps lead the RIPE NCC's engagement with a broad range of stakeholders, including the RIPE NCC membership, the RIPE community, government, academia, civil society and other Internet stakeholders. Gergana has been working for the RIPE NCC since 2013. Originally from Bulgaria, Gergana studied in Germany before relocating to the Netherlands. Gergana has a Masters in Business Research.

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