Institution: University of The Virgin Islands (UVI)

This Research Infrastructure Improvement project seeks to build on the Territory?s investments in cyberinfrastructure by providing the broadband connectivity needed to accelerate discovery and learning at the University of The Virgin Islands (UVI), an Historically Black University. This connectivity will allow UVI?s faculty and staff to be more fully integrated into nationwide interdisciplinary research collaborations though access to Internet2 and the National Lambda Rail (NLR). Through proposed curricular expansions, enhanced graduate research experiences, and high-performance computing training, UVI?s students will be better positioned for graduate school and life-long careers in marine science, mathematics, and computer science.

Intellectual Merit By providing a high-bandwidth network interconnection from the St. Croix submarine landing station to UVI?s St. Croix campus, this project will connect UVI researchers, collaborators, and mentors across the Territory to each other and to others across the nation. The project aims to connect the St. Croix campus to the AMPATH International Exchange Point which would provide access to networks such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail (NLR). The enhanced cyber-infrastructure environment will support collaborative research projects underway at UVI in the broad area of marine science. Specifically, these projects focus on determination of factors that enhance or reduce a coral reef?s tolerance to environmental stress and resistance to transitions to alternate ecological states (ecological resilience). These projects also include robust field experiments, utilizing sophisticated environmental analysis techniques and developing high-resolution oceanographic models, to increase the understanding of how ecological patterns and processes are influenced by natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Understanding these complex relationships is of paramount importance to managing them, especially considering that over the last three to five years the corals within the USVI experienced 30% to 40% mortality due to climate-induced stress (i.e. warm-water bleaching) and disease. The proposed infrastructure enhancements will ensure that research and educational activities have the collaborative bandwidth support needed for a reliable research and engineering network connection to key national and international collaborators.

Broader Impacts Through UVI?s improved connection to AMPATH via the new fiber, underrepresented undergraduate students will have access to enhanced research and educational opportunities, which will better prepare them for success in graduate school and result in improvements in the Territory?s workforce. The project team aims to leverage the VI-EPSCoR marine science program at the University?s Center of Excellence in Marine and Environmental Studies called the Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems to develop scientific and technical services to support local decision-makers in natural resources management and spatial planning. The project will support training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines for students, who are underrepresented minorities and women, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The enhancements in this project will ensure continued broadband access and competitive options for the Territory. Data and results from studies conducted on the islands will be made far more accessible to distant collaborators and dissemination to stakeholders will be significantly improved.

Project Report

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) boasts its own beach and its own Research and Technology Park, but one of the major distinctions of UVI is that it is located on three different islands. To get from one campus to another, travel by air or sea is required. The EPSCOR RII Program has allowed UVI to better connect all three campuses. UVI sought to provision and maintain 'dark fiber' infrastructure from the University's St. Croix campus to the Global Crossing/Level3 collocation facility on the west end of the island. The primary goal was to increase capacity and provide additional reliability beyond the current wide area network inter-island wireless microwave system currently in place. Partners were the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN), fiber services provider, and the AMPATH International Exchange Point for Research and Education in Miami, operated by Florida International University’s Center for Internet Augmented Research and Assessment (FIU- CIARRA).UVI's Information Technology Services (ITS) also sought proposals for the provision and installation of underground conduit systems and fiber optic cabling on the St. Croix campus. This secondary goal provides on-campus fiber connectivity to increase network access speeds to and from existing and new buildings. Upgrading the on-campus fiber allows the UVI research community to take advantage of high-speed internet and Internet2 services, and to increase access speeds to both hosted and on-site research applications. Implementing both goals allows the university to expand internet service and its existing network capabilities, between the St. Croix campus and UVI’s St. Thomas and St. John campuses, as well as between existing campus buildings. This in turn allows UVI to close the cyberinfrastructure gap by providing broadband connectivity equivalent to that of major research institutions in the continental United States. These investments accelerate learning and discovery at a recognized Historical Black College and University (HBCU) that is the only university in the USVI, allowing UVI's faculty and staff to be fully integrated into nationwide interdisciplinary research collaborations through curricular enhancements, graduate research, and high-performance computing training. UVI's students are better positioned for graduate school and life-long careers in marine science and mathematics, as well as computer science fields. Key outcomes: Increased Bandwidth Low Attenuation and Greater Distance Increased Data Security Increased Network Immunity and Reliability Redundant Data Flow Design Increased Standards Decreased Maintenance Cost UVI’s function is to hold classes, deliver course content, and meet student, faculty and staff research needs. UVI’s wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN) infrastructure have been built with the focus on delivering reliable internet services that can meet and scale with the university’s growing needs. UVI’s multi-campus operations depend heavily on videoconferencing, one of several critical applications that traverse UVI’s LAN and WAN environments. UVI researchers depend heavily on Internet2 and WAN services to deliver large amounts of data between campuses as well as off campus to other collaborating universities. Specific impacts are: Increased WAN bandwidth among campuses. UVI’s video conferencing now has less packet loss and is more reliable between the campuses. Increased bandwidth also enables ITS to consider alternate video conferencing solutions that can seamlessly connect our traditional video conference system with users on desktop solutions (including Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber, Google Video Chat), standard web-browsers, and mobile devices. These video conference solutions include support for HD content and video sharing, adding collaboration capabilities to our learning environment for up to 25 participants per meeting. They also help students and faculty connect from virtually anywhere without the need for expensive, dedicated hardware or software. In addition, students are now able to form online study groups more easily and work on school projects both in virtual communities. Faster download transmission speeds to university applications and other applications. High quality interactive video, the remote control of scientific instruments, collaborative creation of music, dance, or other performance art, shared distributed file storage, shared access to high performance computational systems and resources, data mining, and access to digital library resources including high quality graphics, audio, and video are all applications that are enhanced or made possible by the increased internet connectivity through the viNGN/FIU connections. Installing fiber optic cabling on the St. Croix campus has the following impacts beyond the bounds of science, engineering and the academic world: Overall more reliable and redundant network on the St. Croix campus Overall increased network access speeds for all users accessing the UVI network Faster data transmission and real-time file sharing among the St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John campuses Increased wireless access for St. Croix campus buildings that previously were not able to access the Wi-Fi network Increased reliability to network resources for the St. Croix Library, which strengthens their ability to incorporate interactive Web-based applications to engage users Increased reliability for video conference services for classroom instruction as well as component meetings and research collaboration

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University of the Virgin Islands
charlotte amalie
United States
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