A Next Generation Network enables the scientists to engage in interdisciplinary exchange by video conference.
FU Berlin

Video is the new voice.

Freie Universität Berlin is banking on a digital Next Generation Network and therefore totally on IP communication. As a sub-project: the roughly 7,000 administrative employees and scientists will in future be able to engage in interdisciplinary exchange by video conference at their desks or on the move.
Author: Roger Homrich
Photos: Bernd Wannenmacher, FU Berlin
Die FU Berlin unterhält als internationale Netzwerkuniversität Verbindung zu fast 500 Hochschulen und Instituten weltweit.
As an international network university, FU Berlin maintains contact with almost 500 universities and institutes around the world. Its own liaison offices – in Cairo, Moscow, New Delhi, São Paulo, New York, Beijing and Brussels are blazing a trail for a new quality of international collaboration.

Previously, when Prof. Dr. Gyburg Uhlmann set off for a short meeting on Museumsinsel from Berlin Dahlem, it could take a while – around three quarters of an hour by bus and underground, or about ten minutes less by car according to the route planner. “In fact, the journey by car through Berlin’s city center usually takes much longer“, says the Director of the Collaborative Research Center “Episteme in Motion” at the Freie Universität Berlin. 
Today, the scientist races through the IP network and one of the 7,000 IP telephones at the university of excellence from Dahlem to the Spree and the Museum of Islamic Art – by video conference. She is currently researching the transfer of knowledge from the Ancient World to Early Modern times with her team in the special research field of “Episteme in Motion”. “We work in a very interdisciplinary fashion and collaborate with other institutes at home and abroad. We are using video conferences more and more frequently for coordinating our work and conducting scientific discussions”, Prof. Dr. Uhlmann explains.

Research is teamwork

Worldwide collaboration with universities and public research institutions is standard at the FU Berlin which is one of eleven universities of excellence in Germany selected by the Federal and State Governments. That creates its own obligations. For example, to provide top quality teaching and research and top technology to support the work of scientists. “These days, science is much more reliant on teamwork. We are in constant dialogue with our international university partners. Increasingly so by video conference, too, as it saves long, expensive journeys, and any university employee can initiate a conference on the spur of the moment by just pressing a few keys”, notes Torsten Prill, Director of the University Computer Centre at the Freie Universität Berlin. “That is why video for me is the new voice.”
T-Systems stellt die konvergente Netzwerkinfrastruk
ZEDAT, the Central Facility for Data Processing, is the university’s internal ICT service provider with its own data center. T-Systems is providing a convergent network infrastructure for ZEDAT and installing Access Points, IP telephones and video conferencing technology from Cisco.
Torsten Prill’s team laid the technical foundations for video conferences on the campus and in the more than 175 buildings together with T-Systems via a high-speed WiFi as well as the installation of around 1,800 hot spots. 34,000 students and roughly 7,000 employees of FU Berlin can now go online at up to 877 Mbit/s in the canteen, libraries, university buildings but also outside on the campus or in the university park. Up to 15,000 users can now surf wirelessly in the internet at the same time through the Local Area Network (LAN). “Regardless of where I am on the campus, I use the WLAN access points to do research or converse with fellow-students and lecturers”, explains Monique Rothe, student at FU Berlin.

3D tour of the pyramids

However, Torsten Prill does not intend to simply sit back and admire his high-speed internet access and easy video conferences in the highest HD video and HD audio quality. “It’s great to be able to work live with colleagues all around the world on a computer screen thanks to the interoperability and interconnectivity afforded by video conferencing. But the Next Generation Network and IP communication will later open up far more opportunities for really working with multimedia.” He can see archaeologists from FU Berlin taking a walk through the pyramids and further artistic monuments with colleagues from other parts of the world thanks to virtual reality solutions. Or veterinarians from FU Berlin discussing 3D pictures of fractures with specialists from facilities in other countries.

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