SA to manage IP carefully for SKA project

2013-11-14 07:25
Radio telescope dishes stand on the site of the MeerKAT near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Radio telescope dishes stand on the site of the MeerKAT near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Intellectual Property rights will have to be carefully managed in order to ensure that scientists and engineers working on the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) can collaborate effectively, a government minister has said.

The SKA (Square Kilometre Array) will link around 3 000 radio telescopes in the Northern Cape province and much of the technology still has to be developed.

Scientists and engineers from 18 countries are working to develop solutions that will push forward the technological envelop needed for astronomers to make sense of the massive amounts of data received.

"The overriding aim is to ensure that the participants in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project, including the MeerKAT, are able to engage in the development, delivery, operation and maintenance of SKA technology without the concern that their activities may be blocked by the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights," Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom told News24.

The SKA will be the most sensitive instrument ever developed when it comes online in 2024, but there are significant challenges to make sure the data is error-free.


Technologies to deal with the massive amounts of data the instrument will generate present serious challenges to engineers. The SKA is expected to generate more data in a day than flows through the entire internet in a year.

Hanekom said that careful consideration was given to the issue of intellectual property rights.

"Access to the technology developed within the framework of the SKA project without the encumbrance of exclusionary monopoly rights is crucial to the success of the SKA Project."

Researchers working on the project are expected to share their work so that others may build on best practice, and if there are restrictions in terms of IP rights, it may limit the ability to create technology solutions the project requires.

Hanekom will speak at the Creating and Leveraging Intellectual Property in Developing Countries: A Power Tool for Social and Economic Growth conference in Durban from 17 - 20 November.

The conference will look at IP issues and how developing countries can leverage intellectual property as a tool for social and economic growth.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    derek hanekom  |  kimberley  |  astronomy  |  ska  |  technology

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