Imagine a world where your local historic site or museum is unconstrained by bandwidth, capable of sharing high quality multi-media rich digital collections, historic artifacts in 3-D, and can interact live with students from around the world. Internet2, through its United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN) K20 Initiative, is striving to enable the connectivity necessary to make this vision a reality, not only for museums and historic sites but all community anchor, research, and education institutions across the country!
What is Internet2?
Founded in 1996, Internet2 is a not-for-profit advanced network consortium led by the U.S. research and higher education community. Its goals are to provide leading edge network capabilities and communities of practice to facilitate the development, deployment, and use of revolutionary Internet technologies. Starting with 34 universities, Internet2 has grown to more than 450 members, including 258 U.S. universities working in cooperation with 87 leading corporations, 68 government agencies, laboratories, and other research institutions. Additionally, Internet2 connects to more than 65 international advanced networking efforts spanning 100 countries, creating, in essence, a global, noncommercial education network, enabling unprecedented levels of collaboration across all education sectors, both within the U.S. and around the world. Think of Internet2 as an community of U.S. and international leaders in research, academia, industry and government working together to develop next-generation advanced networking technologies, trust and identity services, and cloud services and applications that advance national and global research and education and improve the delivery of public services.
At this point, you might be wondering how your historic site or museum fits in…
Through its U.S. UCAN program, Internet2 also interconnects 42 state and regional research and education networks to its national backbone network which, in turn, connect more than 93,000 K-12 schools, public libraries, museums, community colleges, health care facilities, and other community anchor institutions nationwide. Utilizing the Internet2 Network, and in collaboration with these regional research and education networks across the country, U.S. UCAN is enabling anchor institutions, including museums and historic sites, to serve their communities with distance learning, tele-medicine, and other life-changing applications.
How are R&E networks different?
For applications where reliability is critical and delay is unacceptable—such as real-time streaming events, multi-media rich digital collections, remotely controlled scientific instrumentation, high-definition video-conferencing, online educational gaming, and interactive immersive worlds and simulations—a connection to the commercial Internet (the Internet we use ever day) is often inadequate. Research and education networks, like the Internet2 network, were purpose-built by the not-for-profit research and education community to offer the performance, speed, and advanced services that allow these education applications to thrive. Internet2 enables museum professionals to think beyond the current limitations imposed by the commodity Internet and create new digital learning opportunities for members of the public who may not have the opportunity to visit your site in person.
The Presidential Primary Sources Program (PPSP) is a great example of how historic sites, schools, and libraries are leveraging their connection to Internet2. This program, developed in partnership with the Library of Congress, National Parks Service, and National Archive and Records Administration Presidential Libraries, enables classrooms to connect, in real-time via video conferencing, to Presidential Librarians and National Park Rangers to learn about how various Presidential Administrations have helped shape our nation’s history.
Commenting on a recent PPSP program, Heather Steading from Fork Shoals School said: “My students were very interesting in the content of the lesson. The pictures, videos, and primary documents held their attention. The presenter was also very knowledgeable and engaging.” You can browse the Internet2 Muse website to explore additional examples of advanced applications and resources enabled by high-performance, broadband networking.
If your museum or historic site is in one of the states colored blue, then you qualify to connect to Internet2 through your local state or regional R&E network and the U.S. UCAN program. The costs to connect to your local R&E network and Internet2 will vary from state to state. To find out more on how to get connected, please visit the following webpage: https://k20.internet2.edu/get-connected. Here you will find contact information for each of the state and regional R&E networks connected to Internet2.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you’d like to explore further how your organization can get connected and get involved with the Internet2 community. My contact information is below.
Director, K20 Initiative