The HEAnet Conference, an annual gathering of professionals, researchers, and experts from the education and research community in Ireland has taken place in the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, Co. Kerry. The conference, held from Wednesday, 8th November until Friday, 10th November, brought together over 400 attendees, including decision-makers, IT directors, managers, staff, and researchers from educational institutions.
The HEAnet Conference serves as a vital platform to discuss and share knowledge, ideas, and best practices related to information and communication technologies, networking, and digital infrastructure. The event’s primary objective is to foster collaboration, innovation, and advancements in the education and research sector.
We were honoured to have the Minister for Education Norma Foley open the conference on Thursday morning and give recognition to the HEAnet Schools team for helping deliver high speed internet to over 990 schools currently outside areas of commercial provision across Ireland.
“HEAnet is a key partner with my department in delivering broadband services to primary and special schools and post primary schools through the schools network. This is a long-term relationship which has seen post primary schools provided with high-speed broadband since 2015. When one considers that in 2020 less than a third of schools were at high speeds, the pace of delivery for the project speaks to the effectiveness of the HEAnet service” Norma Foley T.D.
Keynote Speaker Rik Ferguson, Vice President of Security Intelligence at Forescout, delivered an insightful presentation titled “Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape – Past, present & future.” Ferguson’s address delved into major developments in threats and threat actors during 2023, including ransomware, identity-based attacks, breaches, and vulnerabilities. He also explored the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the threat landscape and discussed the future implications of emerging technologies. The audience left with a realistic understanding of the cybersecurity challenges and opportunities ahead.
The conference, served as a forum for the robust discussion and sharing of insights among industry thought leaders, experts, and innovators. This year’s event featured a diverse array of presentations and discussions. Highlights included several compelling talks:
- HEAnet’s Managed SOC & SIEM Service: A Post Launch Case Study
- Cybersecurity and 3rd level Education in Ireland
- Revolutionising Preeclampsia Diagnosis: How AI is Transforming Maternal and Neonatal Healthcare
- Exploring the Legacy of RV Tom Crean: Pioneering Maritime Research and Conservation in the Modern Era
- Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities of the Modern Campus
Additionally, in an informative presentation at the conference, Dr. Richard Browne, Director of the National Cyber Security Centre, emphasised the remarkable evolution of Ireland’s role in the digital landscape since the 1990s. Ireland has not only become home to 16 of the top 20 tech giants but also serves as the host for an astonishing 30% of the European Union’s data. Dr. Browne revealed that with 53 operational data centres currently in Ireland and eight more under construction, along with 26 awaiting planning approval, the country’s data infrastructure is expected to double by 2025. This expansion has contributed significantly to Ireland’s economic prowess, with over 37,000 people employed in the tech sector and exports exceeding €35 billion. In an age where the importance of geographical isolation is diminishing, Ireland’s strategic position in the digital world is undeniable.
Ronan Byrne, CEO of HEAnet, highlighted the significance of the conference, stating, “The HEAnet Conference plays a pivotal role in uniting the education and research community in Ireland. It provides a valuable space for knowledge exchange and collaboration, driving forward our collective mission to enable Ireland’s digital ambition.”
HEAnet, Ireland’s National Education and Research Network, offers several benefits to its members, including:
- High-speed connectivity: Reliable and high-speed network infrastructure ensures seamless communication and collaboration.
- Collaboration opportunities: HEAnet facilitates knowledge sharing, cooperation, and innovation.
- Access to resources and services: A range of tailored services support the education and research community.
- Enhanced cyber security: A new Security Operations Centre (SOC) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) service enhance threat detection capabilities.
- Cost-effectiveness: Shared resources help reduce costs and allocate resources efficiently.
- Technical support: HEAnet provides expert support for network setup, troubleshooting, and other IT-related issues.
- Schools Network: Connecting over 1,000,000 students and teachers across approximately 3,815 schools in Ireland.
The HEAnet Conference not only serves as a platform for learning but also strengthens HEAnet’s mission of “Delivering common, repeatable, and shareable solutions for all of education” and its vision of “Enabling Ireland’s digital ambition.”
We are already looking forward to next year’s conference! It will take place between 6th to 8th November 2024 in the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney.