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IU Gets Stimulus Money For Nationwide Educational Computer Network

Indiana University is partnering with a group of research and educational organizations to create a nationwide computer network aimed at expanding information sharing and access.  Funded in-part by $62.5 million dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $25 million in matching funds, the network will link noncommercial institutions such as universities, libraries, and museums.  Indiana University Networking Associate Vice President David Jent said the project is designed to allow those organizations to share more data at faster speeds.

“So you can imagine libraries sharing digitized books over this, you can imagine museums sharing digitized information for pictures or catalogs of their collections with another collection, universities sharing with other universities, and researchers sharing their information with other sorts of people,” Jent said.

Called the United States Unified Community Anchor Network, or US UCAN, Jent said similar networks already exist in higher education and the intent of UCAN is to include more organizations in the data-sharing community.  IU will operate the network, meaning that all user and vendor issues will be taken care of by the university.  Jent said IU has plenty of experience in the field.

“For example the North Carolina State Education Network, so the education network that connects all their schools, is managed in Indiana,” Jent said.  “The network in Connecticut does that does the same thing, that connects all the Connecticut schools, is managed in Indiana. Oklahoma, the same way- all of those are managed out of Indiana.”

Jent said the I-Light network that connects many of Indiana’s colleges — as well as some federal networks — are also supported by IU.  Jent warned the US’s internet infrastructure lags behind many other industrialized countries, and even with this new network won’t put the nation on par with competitors such as Japan and Canada.

“And we’re still, even with this, probably ten years behind most modern countries,” Jent said.

The network should be operational within three years but Jent predicted most of the network will be up by 2012.

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