- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (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 involves remote collaboration. In order to work effectively and efficiently on multi-institutional projects, researchers depend heavily on high-speed networks and access to large datasets 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 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.”
Dahlberg said high-speed Internet will become a powerful research tool allowing 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, who that live too far way to travel to Kearney will be able to tune in to real-time video streams.
Many of UC ANR's research and extension centers are 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.”
About UC ANR www.ucanr.edu
The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) is a statewide network of University of California researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural and human resources. The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. ANR's advisors, specialists and faculty bring practical, science-based answers to Californians.
ANR works hand in hand with industry to enhance agricultural markets, help the balance of trade, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, and provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and Californians with increased food safety. ANR is comprised of
- 200 locally based Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists
- 57 local offices throughout California
- 130 campus-based Cooperative Extension specialists
- 9 Research and Extension Centers
- 6 statewide programs
- 700 academic researchers in 40 departments at 3 colleges and 1 professional school:
UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources
UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
About CENIC www.cenic.org
CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students, together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC's Charter Associates are part of the world's largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California's Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.