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Spring SIG-Marcomms meeting, 21-22 Feb 2023 – Communications at -24 Celsius

SIG-Marcomms Kajaani
SIG-Marcomms, LUMI, Kajaani

The Spring SIG-Marcomms meeting took place in Kajaani, Finland, on 21-22 February, hosted by the Finnish NREN, CSC, at LUMI, the fastest European supercomputer located at CSC’s data centre.

The objective of the meeting was to give marketing experts from the GÉANT community the opportunity to discuss and share best practices on the role of communications to raise awareness on High Performance Computers (HPC) and their applications as well as on how to showcase their benefits. So, let’s see what happened.

Participants flew to North Finland in the coldest week of the year from across the European NREN community representing Armenia, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium, Netherlands, the UK (and Finland of course). Travelling to such a remote destination was undoubtedly encouraged by the meeting’s timely agenda and spectacular location.

The impressive venue that hosts LUMI is an old papermill whose spacious facility creates a suggestive setting for this incredible super-machine. Minna Lappalainen from CSC welcomed us all and highlighted some staggering facts about LUMI, also known as the Queen of the North: “A vibrant data centre ecosystem environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient”.  LUMI not only has a carbon negative footprint, it also uses 100% hydro-powered energy and the waste heat it produces accounts for about 20 percent of the district heat of the area.

Minna talked also about plans to promote LUMI’s benefits to a commercial user base and the challenges associated with the adoption of a communication strategy and approach to reach an audience so different from R&E. Minna said: “To compete one has to compute. LUMI is now open for business.”

Guest presenters from CINECA in Italy talked about the communications activities for the Bologna-based European supercomputer Leonardo. How videos, events and original communication campaigns have been generating interest from the media and producing engagement, exposure and media coverage. Colleagues from ARNES in Slovenia told us how their HPC communications strategies including videos and animations reach social media users with targeted messages that different audiences can understand. We followed a remote presentation from CERN on their journey towards HPC identifying the need of a paradigm shift in the way computing is done. The event also welcomed a remote presentation from a representative of the African UbuntuNet Alliance on the impact that African NRENs have on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Colleagues from GRNET presented plans for DAEDALUS, the next large European supercomputer that will be based in Greece and shared how their activities support the organisation’s mission and strategy and the tools they use to deliver their projects, such a busy team!

Day two of the meeting included a very informative presentation by Andrea Meloni from GÉANT on the AI tools available to communication professionals today and how they can change the way we work. How will AI impact communications? AI will improve the way we work, but we can rest assured that our jobs as communicators are still safe just as “Word doesn’t make us writers and Photoshop doesn’t make us designers”. This was followed by a brief but exhaustive recap of the year that changed Twitter by Leonardo Marino from GÉANT on the use of social media in R&E. What is the future of social media? How important is it for our sector? Which are the most influential channels?

All participants shared enthusiasm and ideas on how to tackle the interesting HPC communications challenges associated with such a complex subject matter.  Throughout the meeting the team spirit was high and positive, it was a pleasure to be reunited in person with like-minded colleagues and experience communications at sub-zero temperatures!

The next SIG-Marcomms meeting will take place in Tirana, alongside TNC23, on Friday 9 June 2023. Registrations are open and the agenda is already coming along nicely.

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