National Research Network Project boosts high-speed connectivity for researchers

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The achievements of the National Research Network (NRN) project were celebrated today at a launch event held at the University of South Australia.

Funded by the Federal Department of Education, and led by UniSA’s CIO Paul Sherlock, the NRN project has greatly enhanced connectivity for researchers in capital cities (Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne), regional areas (including Far North Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia), interstate (between Adelaide and Perth) and has enhanced new mission-specific projects in radio astronomy and storage networking.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the NRN project represents a large and important investment in Australia’s future.

“The network will improve research efficiency by giving Australian researchers the ability to collaborate more widely and effectively.”

Paul Sherlock, UniSA Chief Information Officer and Project Director says almost every researcher in Australia will benefit from this network.

“The $37 million investment by the Federal Government has significantly enhanced Australia’s advanced research and education telecommunication network (AREN) which now provides critical, very high-speed connections between Australian universities and research institutions. The AREN is implemented by SABREnet in South Australia, VERNet in Victoria, and in other states, nationally and internationally by AARNet.”

The AREN connects institutions in all capital cities and many regional centres, as well as isolated research facilities such as radio telescopes. It also connects Australian researchers to the USA, Singapore, Asia and Europe.

Chris Hancock, CEO of AARNet says the NRN Project is a great example of a successful collaboration between the Higher Education sector and the government.

“The NRN has brought enormous benefits to the sector by closing the gaps in the network and building out the critical infrastructure needed to support Australian research excellence and innovation. The Federal Government’s long-term strategy and investment in the Australian research and education network infrastructure was timely and enables Australian researchers to overcome the tyranny of distance and compete globally.”

AARNet is responsible for delivering 10 out the 12 NRN component projects.

“Our projects span new fibre builds, deploying upgraded active equipment to light up existing fibre, and building out capabilities to meet the data transport, storage and high performance computing demands of specific disciplines,” says Hancock.

Significantly, the NRN funding has fast-tracked the rollout of AARNet4, the next generation of AARNet. AARNet4 is engineered to deliver improved performance, and new functionality to support Cloud, high performance computing, data storage and all the capabilities in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) portfolio.

The research that will benefit from this communications infrastructure range from radio astronomy and the Square Kilometre Array and projects to protect Australia’s unique biodiversity, the cataloguing of cultural treasures right through to top-level medical and agricultural research.

Mark Ragan, research professor at the University of Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience says in the last year alone, more than 26,000 researchers across all areas of the biosciences – agriculture, biotech, biomed, biosecurity, ecosystems science – have accessed data resources using the National Research Network infrastructure.

“The NRN already underpins my research, and will increasingly become more-critical to Australian bioscience and bio-industries and services.”

Stakeholders from the NRN project including NRN Steering Committee members, AARNet, SABRENet, and VERNet staff, Project Steering Committee Members, South Australian researchers, eResearch SA staff and VIPs including UniSA Vice Chancellor Prof David Lloyd, SA Shadow Minister for Education David Pisoni, SA Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Gail Gago attended the launch of this vital network.

Read the University of South Australia’s media release.

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