EMA General Assembly and Annual Conference 2016


The Erasmus Mundus General Assembly 2016 was held in the picturesque city of Lugano, Switzerland, next to the beautiful glacial lake Lugano. This year marked the 10th anniversary of Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association, which was founded in 2006. The General Assembly followed on the long and successful tradition of previous events that were held all over Europe in Perugia, Vilnius, Madrid, Budapest, Prague, Barcelona, Krakow, and Ghent. The event was organised at the main building of Universit della Svizzera italiana (USI). USI Lugano proved a fabulous host, and provided a very warm welcome to the attendees. Though we wish the weather was as kind, the beautiful sunny day on Sunday let the attendees enjoy the city and the beautiful lake.

The event kicked off on the evening of Friday 25th November with the Networking Boat Cruise at the Lake Lugano. The Erasmus Mundus students and alumni coming from all over Europe and the world got a chance to mix together, many haven’t met for more than a year, since the last General Assembly in 2015 in Ghent, Belgium, many haven’t met at all. The shining lights of Lugano provided a beautiful backdrop to rekindle the Erasmus Mundus spirit as the night wore on.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony started on Saturday 26th November with the welcome address by the current EMA President Apiyo Okwiri. This followed up by the video message from Martine Reicherts, Director-General of DG Education and Culture, European Commission, and the talks by Adrian Veale and Bodil Agasoster, representatives from European Commission, which highlighted the importance of Erasmus Mundus programme and the useful role played by EMA. Prof. Boas Erez, USI Rector, and Cristina Zanini Barzaghi, representative from City council of Lugano, then welcomed the EMA participants to the city of Lugano. Apiyo Okwiri and Emrah Karakaya, the current Vice-President of EMA, discussed the details of EMA GA 2016, introducing the facts and agenda for this year’s General Assembly.

This was followed by two interesting talks on USI Highlights. Prof. Paulo Goncalves, Founder and Director of the Master in Humanitarian Logistics and Management (MASHLM) and Master in Humanitarian Operations and Supply Chain Management (MASHOM), and Co-founder and Chief Strategy & Operations Officer (CSO/COO) of SwissLeg, gave an inspiring talk about “Challenges and Rewards of Social Entrepreneurship” and discussed many success stories from the USI students and alumni. Prof. Natasha Sharygina, Associate Professor at Informatics Department, USI, talked about “International Studies and Projects of the USI Informatics Faculty”. The first session ended with presentations from EMA partners, that was moderated by Pavan Sriram, EMA Former Vice President. There were talks by Viviana Premazzi from garagErasmus, Wim Gabriels from Erasmus Student Network (ESN), and Robin Heinsen from OCEANS.

After the coffee break, Apiyo Okwiri and Emrah Karakaya opened the second session with introducing key players of the EMA, the EMA structure and who is who of EMA. Then there was a plenary discussion on “Erasmus Mundus, EMA History and Today”, which was moderated by Leasa Weimer, EMA Former President. The panelists, who shared their experiences from the founding days and through the formative years of the EMA, included Hanneke Luth, the first EMA Former President, and Apiyo Okwiri, the current EMA President, and Adrian Veale from EC/EACEA, and Boas Erez, Rector of USI, both of whom were course coordinators of some of the very first Erasmus Mundus Masters courses. Then Mikhail Balyasin presented the findings from “EMA Course Quality Survey Report”. The session concluded with a video message from Georgiana Mihut about the organisation of EMA GA, and discussion on highlights of the EMA GAs, and insights into the agenda by Apiyo Okwiri and Emrah Karakaya.

Forum of Inspiration

The first day of General Assembly continued in the afternoon after the lunch break with an interesting plenary discussion “Forum of Inspiration”. The session was moderated by Hanneke Luth and Leasa Weimer, both EMA former Presidents, where distinguished EMA members discussed their Erasmus Mundus journey and success stories. The session covered personal anecdotes from Ekaterina Matveeva, CEO of Amolingua, Geline Alfred Fuko, a lawyer and human rights activist in Tanzania, Kenneth Toah Nsah, a teacher, writer, and youth and literary student, Gratian Mihailescu, Founder of UrbanizeHub, Raj Sark, Founder and CEO of LUPO, Hayati Citaklar, lecturer, writer, and artist, Besiana Balla, PhD fellow in Economics, and Jennifer Lenhart, programme manager at WWF.

World Coffee Break

The session was followed by the now legendary “World Coffee Break” which was a huge success like the previous years. EMA regional chapters exhibited the sweets, cuisines, and flavours from their countries, and the participants got a chance to taste the dishes from the world over.

Workshops and Training Sessions

After the coffee break, there were five training and workshop sessions in the afternoon, which covered various interesting topics for personal and professional growth.

  • “EQ.uip yourself – a journey into Emotional Intelligence”, by Anna Zakharova
  • “Be Yoda and make the audience your hero”, by Ekaterina Matveeva
  • “What employers are looking for a special trip along multilateral organisations”, by Jenny Castillo
  • “Message to the Millennials (Takeaways for life)”, by Szilard Burjan
  • “How to lobby and carry out advocacy work at intergovernmental meetings”, by Morse Caoagas Flores

Gala Dinner and EMA Stars

The highlight of the night was the “Gala Dinner” at Capo San Martino, an old restaurant perched up the hill with fascinating views of the lake and the city of Lugano. After enjoying the gastronomic delights of the region, the time was ripe for the “Cultural Show”, now a mainstay of the EMA General Assembly. Each of the regional chapters dressed in their traditional attires showcased their regional music and arts with amazing dance performances. Kul Shanker Shrestha opened the night with his guitar playing to the mystic tunes from the mountains of Nepal. Sanja Zivanovic ended the show with an enthralling performance of middle eastern belly dancing. But the main highlight and surprise of the night was still left, the announcement of EMA Stars of the year 2016. Mushfiqul Alam took the stage and congratulated everyone for playing their part in the success of EMA. He, in particular, lauded the tremendous efforts of the three individuals, who put in a lot of hard work in organising EMA General Assembly 2016 and other EMA activities. The whole of EMA congratulate Bailey Harrington, Amir Kamran and Agegie Kn for being the EMA Stars of 2016.

EMA Internal Affairs

The agenda of the second day was devoted to the EMA internal affairs. Apiyo Okwiri opened the session with providing details about the activities planned for the second day. Nathan Lemahieu, from Internal Affairs team, then presented the proposed Statute Amendments, and coordinated the voting on these amendments. Emrah Karakaya then discussed the strategy and the timeline for planned EMA activities for year 2017.

After the short coffee break, it was now the time for chapter meetings. Lucia Loposova coordinated the meetings of the African, Chinese, Eurasian, European, Far East, Indian, Latin American, Middle East, North American, Oceania, South Asian, and South East Asian chapters. After the regional chapters, members of the different Service Teams, Advisory Board, and Networks, met to discuss and plan for the upcoming year. The general assembly concluded with the Closing Ceremony, where Apiyo Okwiri discussed about the way forward, and thanked and bid farewell to all the participants.

This year’s EMA General Assembly proved to be a resounding success, and was covered on national and local media, for example on RSI television and radio channel, and on Teleticino television channel. The live updates and photos were also shared widely on social media, using #EMAGA2016 hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The report on EMA General Assembly was written by Amin Khan, in collaboration with Maryia Kukharava and the Communications Team at EMA. The final version of the report appears on EMA website.


On Supporting Service Selection for Collaborative Multi-Cloud Ecosystems in Community Networks (IEEE AINA 2015)

Felix presented our work about exploring the role decision support systems in cloud infrastructures built in community networks at IEEE AINA 2015 (24-27 March 2015 in Gwangiu, South Korea). This involved my work with Victor Muntes-Mulero and his team at CA Labs on MODAClouds project, and with Felix Freitag on Clommunity project. Here is the abstract of the paper:

Internet and communication technologies have lowered the costs for communities to collaborate, leading to new services and collectively built infrastructures like community networks. Community networks get formed when individuals and local organisations from a geographic area team up to create and run a community-owned IP network to satisfy the community’s demand for ICT, such as facilitating Internet access and providing services of local interest. To address the limitation and enhance utility of community networks, we deploy collaborative clouds in community networks that allow interesting applications to be developed for serving local needs of communities. Such collaborative clouds employ resources contributed by the members of the community network for provisioning infrastructure and software services, and adapt to the specific social, economic and technical characteristics of the community networks. We need to support mechanisms that provide assistance in cloud service selection while taking into account different aspects pertaining to associated risks in community clouds, quality concerns of the users and cost limitations specifically in multi-clouds ecosystems. This paper proposes a risk-cost-quality based decision support system to assist the community cloud users to select the most appropriate cloud services meeting their needs. The proposed framework not only increases the ease of adoption of community clouds by providing assistance to users in cloud service selection, but also provides insights into the improvement of community clouds based on user behaviour.

Slides |  Full-Text PDF | DOI Link

Community Networks in the News

Below are some recent articles in the press about community networks.

It Takes a Village: The Rise of Community-Driven Infrastructure, The Atlantic

Networks of local residents can solve challenges more cheaply, quickly, and effectively than massive public-works projects. Because community networks are non-centralized, they carry less risk of wide-spread failure in an emergency.

Where Cellular Networks Don’t Exist, People Are Building Their Own, Wired

Strategically ignored by Mexico’s major telecoms, Yaee is putting itself on the mobile communications grid with the help of a Oaxaca-based telecommunications non-profit called Rhizomatica.

A Village Has What All of Italy Wants: The Internet, The New York Times

Over the last eight years, a professor and his team have built a wireless Internet network for the village with scavenged parts in Verrua Savoia, in northern Italy.

When the internet dies, meet the meshnet that survives, New Scientist

When superstorm Sandy hit the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Red Hook and the power went down, the OTI already had an experimental meshnet in place. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency managed to plug its high-bandwidth satellite uplink into it and instantly provided connectivity to the community and the Red Cross relief organisation.

From Keeping Away Snoops to Surmounting the Digital Divide, Mesh Networks are on the Rise, Tech President

From Somalia to Greece, from New York to rural Spain, an increasing number of communities around the world are taking back the right to build their own Internet, by setting up wireless communication networks.

Meshnet activists rebuilding the internet from scratch, New Scientist

Decentralised internet access in the hands of the people is just a start. The services they use must be decentralised, too.

How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer, Mother Jones

The notion of a truly independent global internet may still be a gleam in the eye of the meshers, but their visionary zeal is contagious. It harkens back to the early days of the digital universe, when the network consisted mostly of university scientists and researchers communicating among themselves without corporations sitting in the middle or government (that we know of) monitoring their chats. The goal then, as now, was both connection and control: an internet of one’s own.

Prototyping Incentive-based Resource Assignment for Clouds in Community Network (IEEE AINA 2014)

Felix presented our work about incentive-based resource assignment in cloud infrastructures built in community networks at IEEE AINA 2014 (May 13-16, 2014 in Victoria, Canada). This involved my work with Umit Buyuksahin and Felix Freitag on Clommunity project. Here is the abstract of the paper:

Wireless community networks are a successful example of a collective where communities operate ICT infrastructure and provide IP connectivity based on the principle of reciprocal resource sharing of network bandwidth. This sharing, however, has not extended to computing and storage resources, resulting in very few applications and services which are currently deployed within community networks. Cloud computing, as in today’s Internet, has made it common to consume resources provided by public clouds providers, but such cloud infrastructures have not materialized within community networks. We analyse in this paper socio-technical characteristics of community networks in order to derive scenarios for community clouds. Based on an architecture for such a community cloud, we implement a prototype for the incentive-driven resource assignment component, deploy it in a testbed of community network nodes, and evaluate its behaviour experimentally. Our evaluation gives insight into how the deployed prototype components regulate the consumption of cloud resources taking into account the users’ contributions, and how this regulation affects the system usage. Our results suggest a further integration of this regulation component into current cloud management platforms in order to open them up for the operation of an ecosystem of community cloud.

Slides |  Full-Text PDF | DOI Link

Best Paper Award IEEE AINA 2014

Best Paper Award IEEE AINA 2014

Sant Jordi’s Play at Paco Candel School 2014

The parents’ association (AFA) at Escola Paco Candel presented a play about Saint George and the dragon to the children on La Diada de Sant Jordi, 23rd April, 2014. The video also appears on AFA PAco Candel’s blog, and at YouTube.

Estem molt contents de poder mostrar-vos la representació de Sant Jordi que les famílies vam fer amb una gran illusió pels nens i nenes de l’escola Paco Candel.

Video about CLOMMUNITY Project

Check out the video explaining the concept behind realizing clouds in community networks.

The CLOMMUNITY project aims at addressing the obstacles for communities of citizens in bootstrapping, running and expanding community-owned networks that provide community services organised as community clouds. That requires solving specific research challenges imposed by the requirement of: self-managing and scalable decentralized infrastructure services for the management and aggregation of a large number of widespread low-cost unreliable networking, storage and home computing resources; distributed platform services to support and facilitate the design and operation of elastic, resilient and scalable service overlays and user-oriented services built over these underlying services, providing a good quality of experience at the lowest economic and environmental cost.

Here is a shorter version with the animation video.


Clouds of Small Things: Provisioning Infrastructure-as-a-Service from within Community Networks (CNBuB 2013)

Slides for CNBuB 2013I presented our work about simulating cloud infrastructures built in community networks at CNBuB 2013 (October 7, 2013 in Lyon, France). This involved my work with Leila Sharifi, Luís Veiga and Leandro Navarro, related to Clommunity project. Here is the abstract of the paper:

Community networks offer a shared communication infrastructure where communities of citizens build and own open networks. While the IP connectivity of the networking devices is successfully achieved, the number of services and applications available from within the community network is typically small and the usage of the community network is often limited to providing Internet access to remote areas through wireless links. In this paper we propose to apply the principle of resource sharing of community networks, currently limited to the network bandwidth, to other computing resources, which leads to cloud computing in community networks. Towards this vision, we review some characteristics of community networks and identify potential scenarios for community clouds. We simulate a cloud computing infrastructure service and discuss different aspects of its performance in comparison to a commercial centralized cloud system. We note that in community clouds the computing resources are heterogeneous and less powerful, which affects the time needed to assign resources. Response time of the infrastructure service is high in community clouds even for a small number of resources since resources are distributed, but tends to get closer to that of a centralized cloud when the number of resources requested increases. Our initial results suggest that the performance of the community clouds highly depends on the community network conditions, but has some potential for improvement with network-aware cloud services. The main strength compared to commercial cloud services, however, is that community cloud services hosted on community-owned resources will follow the principles of community network and will be neutral and open.

SlidesFull-Text | DOI Link

Towards Incentive-based Resource Assignment and Regulation in Clouds for Community Networks (GECON 2013)

ImageI presented our work about resource regulation in cloud infrastructures built in community networks at GECON 2013 (September 18-20, 2013 in Zaragoza, Spain). This involved my work with Umit Buyuksahin and Felix Freitag on Clommunity project. We got good feedback from the audience, in particular that social nature of the community networks provides a lot of potential for exploring this problem further. Here is the abstract of the paper:

Community networks are built with off-the-shelf communication equipment aiming to satisfy a community’s demand for Internet access and services. These networks are a real world example of a collective that shares ICT resources. But while these community networks successfully achieve the IP connectivity over the shared network infrastructure, the deployment of applications inside of community networks is surprisingly low. Given that community networks are driven by volunteers, we believe that bringing in incentive-based mechanisms for service and application deployments in community networks will help in unlocking its true potential. We investigate in this paper such mechanisms to steer user contributions, in order to provide cloud services from within community networks. From the analysis of the community network’s topology, we derive two scenarios of community clouds, the local cloud and the federated cloud. We develop an architecture tailored to community networks which integrates the incentive mechanism we propose. In simulations of large scale community cloud scenarios we study the behaviour of the incentive mechanism in different configurations, where slices of homogeneous virtual machine instances are shared. Our simulation results allow us to understand better how to configure such an incentive mechanism in a future prototype of a real community cloud system, which ultimately should lead to realisation of clouds in community networks.

SlidesFull-Text | DOI Link

Cloud Computing Articles from 2013

Here are some selected articles from IEEE and ACM magazines related to cloud computing:

  1. K. M. Khan and Q. Malluhi, “Trust in Cloud Services: Providing More Controls to Clients,” Computer, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 94–96, Jul. 2013.
  2. H. Berghel, “Through the PRISM Darkly,” Computer, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 86–90, Jul. 2013.
  3. B. Satzger, W. Hummer, C. Inzinger, P. Leitner, and S. Dustdar, “Winds of Change: From Vendor Lock-In to the Meta Cloud,” IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 69–73, Jan. 2013.
  4. S. Murugesan, “Cloud computing: The new normal?,” Computer, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 77–79, Jan. 2013.
  5. R. Moreno-Vozmediano, R. S. Montero, and I. M. Llorente, “IaaS Cloud Architecture: From Virtualized Datacenters to Federated Cloud Infrastructures,” Computer, vol. 45, no. 12, pp. 65–72, Dec. 2012.
  6. S. Distefano and A. Puliafito, “Cloud@Home: Toward a Volunteer Cloud,” IT Professional, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 27–31, Jan. 2012.

The Xen of Virtualization

Here is a short presentation about Xen hypervisor.

Barham, Paul, Boris Dragovic, Keir Fraser, Steven Hand, Tim Harris, Alex Ho, Rolf Neugebauer, Ian Pratt, and Andrew Warfield. “Xen and the art of virtualization.” In ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 164-177. ACM, 2003.