PSU part of group rethinking technology

By Jessica VanderKolk | Centre Daily Times | May 3, 2012


High-speed Internet networks could provide life-changing possibilities ranging from uninterrupted video conferencing to home health care robots that act as liaisons between patients and medical facilities.

Penn State is part of a nationwide consortium of universities and communities called Gig.U — Gigabit University, or the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project — that aims to make those technologies possible.

The goal is to start providing access to ultra high-speed Internet networks across the country, focusing first on research institutions and their surrounding communities.

Officials from Penn State Information Technology Services outlined the program and answered questions Wednesday for the Centre

Region Council of Governments Public Services and Environmental Committee. The discussion was the first Penn State has initiated with local officials to gauge interest in the advanced technology.

Kevin Morooney, Penn State’s vice provost for information technology, explained the high-speed Internet would mean a “fundamental change,” likely increasing performance several thousand times in a home or business. Gig.U focuses on that “last mile” of connection, in local customers’ computers.

“The goal is simple,” he said. “It’s the development of gigabit capabilities to eyeballs and fingers.”

Morooney said the first step is at research universities that already are set up to make such infrastructure changes. Benefits could be seen in research and instruction and, in the greater community, in health care, public safety and in people’s homes.

Harris Township Supervisor- Denny Hameister latched onto the potential benefits to public safety and government services, specifically related to the county’s plan to overhaul the 911 system, including relocation of the call center and communication improvements.

“They haven’t solved the problem yet,” he said. “This may be an interesting new linkage.”

Morooney agreed, and said wireless technology exists that could contribute to the project. The county and business community likely will be part of future Gig.U discussions.

The hope is to attract businesses that would benefit from using the technology, especially in parts of the county where broadband service is lacking.

Vern Squier, president and CEO of the Centre County Chamber of Business and Industry, said he’s met with Penn State representatives and that his organization is supportive so far.

“These evolutions of speed and capability really can make a huge difference in what we can take on.”


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