Building a 21st Century Cyberinfrastructure


I attended a meeting in Wellington yesterday morning with members of the various councils around the region who are looking at combining efforts to get a fibre network throughout the greater Wellington area. One of the members had just returned from the Netherlands where an official there had told him “when we talk of broadband now we’re thinking of 100Mbs as the minimum” (thinks me who struggles to get over 1.5Mbs on a good night on my Telecom ‘all you can eat’ plan!)

All this enthusing about broadband and how it might benefit NZ needs careful planning and thinking about, however. The majority of people I speak with about this at the potential user end of things (teachers, principals etc) still see an advanced network as being simply faster internet – and a greater cost. At the political level too there is angst about how much investment will be required to sustain an advanced network in NZ.

So this morning I was interested to receive a note about the release of a New Cyberinfrastructure Vision Document from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It’s a fairly lengthy read (1.8Mb PDF download), but a quick skim through this morning revealed some helpful insights as to why an advanced network is potentially so important for the science community. This from one section; “

Data, Data Analysis, and Visualization are vital for progress in the increasingly data-intensive realm of science and engineering research and education. Any cogent plan addressing cyberinfra-structure must address the phenomenal growth of data in all its various dimensions. Scientists and engineers are producing, accessing, analyzing, integrating, storing and retrieving massive amounts of data daily. Further, this is a trend that is expected to see significant growth in the very near future as advances in sensors and sensor networks, high-throughput technologies and instrumentation, automated data acquisition, computational modeling and simulation, and other methods and technologies materialize. The anticipated growth in both the production and repurposing of digital data raises complex issues not only of scale and heterogeneity, but also of stewardship, curation and long-term access.

It may not be the sort of document that will keep everyone up at night reading, but there are some useful ideas in here for those seeking to find justifications for the work around advanced networks in NZ.

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