The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UC ANR) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) have connected key UC ANR facilities to CENIC’s ultra-fast 100Gbps research and education network, extending ultra-broadband capacity to UC researchers in rural sites across California.
UC ANR is comprised of nine Research and Extension Centers (RECS) and 57 local UC Cooperative Extension offices. These facilities, until now, have been hampered by poor Internet connectivity to support the 700 UC academic researchers who are engaged with community and industry partners to ensure that California has healthy food systems, environments, and communities.
The UC ANR RECS extend from the Oregon border in the north, through the Sierra foothills and Central Valley, along the Pacific Coast and south to the Mexican border. The REC facilities are situated among California’s rich and unique agricultural and natural resources, and they connect both applied and basic scientific research and extension activities to regional challenges and issues in these diverse settings. Today nearly all research and data analysis involve remote collaboration. In order to work effectively and efficiently on multi-institutional projects, researchers depend heavily on high-speed networks and access to large data sets and computing resources.
One of the first RECS to be connected is the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, located in rural Fresno County between the small cities of Parlier and Reedley. The Kearney REC now has very high-speed broadband capability, far surpassing the speeds typically available outside urban centers.
“The Internet at Kearney was like a drinking straw delivering and retrieving information, when what we needed was a fire hose,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer for UC ANR. “High-speed, broadband Internet at Kearney will allow UC ANR to lead innovative, on-farm agriculture technology research and extension for the UC in the Central Valley. It will allow Kearney researchers to share big data and big computing among UCs and globally.”
Currently, offices, laboratories and meeting facilities at Kearney have access to this high-speed Internet. In the coming months, high-speed wireless connectivity will become available throughout the 330-acre center. Researchers will be able to collect and upload data without having to make a stop in their offices or laboratories.
“You can’t do big data with dial-up Internet speed,” said Jeffery Dahlberg, director of the UC ANR Kearney REC. “Before this upgrade, our Internet was slower than my home internet speeds. Now we have speeds more like you will find on UC campuses.”
Dalberg noted that high-speed Internet will become a powerful research tool allowing our researchers to collect and share data in real-time.“For instance, a researcher can use an infrared camera in a field collecting readings to determine how a crop responds to heat as it changes throughout the day, but even this modest instrument needs significant bandwidth,” he said. “We now have the bandwidth to do that.”
The research center draws hundreds of farmers to the site for meetings and field days. With the new capability, those that live too far way to travel to Kearney will be able to tune into real-time video streams.
Many of UC ANR’s research and extension centers are in areas even more remote than Kearney. The Hopland (Mendocino County) and Desert (Holtville, Imperial County) RECs are now online and connected to the CENIC Network. By the end of the academic year (June 2017), West Side (western San Joaquin Valley), Hansen (Santa Clara Valley), South Coast (Orange County), Intermountain (Tulelake), Sierra Foothill (Browns Valley) and Lindcove (Tulare County), will all be on the CENIC Network. UC’s environmental education center for Bay Area youth, Elkus Ranch, will also be connected to high-speed Internet via CENIC.
“CENIC is one of the most advanced research and education networks in the world and a critical resource for University of California research, education, and clinical communities,” said Tom Andriola, UC Vice President and Chief Information Officer and CENIC Board member. “Extending the CENIC network to the full UC community — including UC ANR’s key research and education sites — is essential to the UC mission. Today we have achieved a significant milestone, thanks to the dedication of both CENIC and ANR leadership.”
with Business Wire
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