Increased Bandwidth Will Help University of Idaho Researchers Share, Move Data

Thursday, September 26 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – As scientists’ abilities to collect enormous amounts of data increases, so does the need to store and share the data. The University of Idaho has received a grant to increase its core network bandwidth tenfold, allowing researchers to share data more effectively and efficiently in Idaho and worldwide.

The National Science Foundation, or NSF, awarded the university nearly $450,000 to remove network bottlenecks that were hampering UI’s ability to share data with its partners and the public. The award is part of a national effort by the NSF to increase data capacity.

The grant essentially increases the size of the “pipe” available for UI researchers to move large amounts of data, said Dan Ewart, chief information officer for UI Information Technology Services. “It means we will be able share almost 10 times more data at speeds nearly 10 times faster than we do now.”

The increase, which will be completed in 2014, will lead to improved connectivity across the UI campus for everything from video conferencing to exchanging large climate-modeling data sets, said Paul Gessler, a professor in the UI College of Natural Resources and the grant’s principal investigator.

“This will open up our ability to link with other national and international repositories and researchers in real time,” Gessler said.

The bandwidth increase will aid the Northwest Knowledge Network, or NKN, a unit of the Office of Research and Economic Development, which helps researchers store and manage their data and provides the public with access to data generated by university research.

“The data sets are only going to get bigger,” said Luke Sheneman, environmental data manager for NKN. “This is going to help us reach our users, our clients, and serve the research community better.”

The increase will allow NKN to more efficiently back up data from its servers at the UI Library to servers at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls and will give UI researchers access to the laboratory’s high-performance computing and visualization resources.

It also will allow the university to build a stronger partnership with its collaborators across the region, including the Idaho Regional Optical Network, and with the NSF’s international Data Observation Network for Earth, or DataONE.

The increase will aid researchers university-wide and will benefit regional partnerships that presently handle large amounts of digital information. These include the USDA-funded Regional Approaches to Climate Change project with UI, Washington State University and Oregon State University; the U.S. Geological Survey-funded Northwest Climate Science Center, with UI, Oregon State University and the University of Washington; and the UI Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies, or IBEST, which operates a computational resources core facility and provides next-generation genomic sequencing for researchers on and off campus.

“This is the culmination of the decade-long effort to update the connection speeds for UI,” said James Foster, an IBEST researcher and professor of biological sciences.

When the bandwidth increase is completed, the university will be eligible to apply for an additional $1 million NSF grant to further increase its cyber-infrastructure.

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Media Contact: Tara Roberts, University Communications, (208) 885-7725,

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