If you’ve lived all of your life in Oklahoma as I have, you know the unpredictability of Oklahoma weather makes advanced weather warnings a challenge for our state’s meteorologists. What you may not know is that leading-edge weather research is centered right here in our home state. The National Weather Center in Norman conducts global research initiatives in weather prediction and weather radar. This research is making huge advancements in weather warnings with the potential to save lives here and around the globe. Another fact you may not know is this research would not be possible without OneNet.
Research, such as that at the National Weather Center, requires huge data connections that allow researchers to transmit and receive data for projects they’re collaborating on with other researchers around the globe. These data connections require what I like to call big pipes—high-speed fiber networks with the capacity to move massive amounts of data in a matter of seconds.
OneNet provides this high-speed connectivity for Oklahoma’s research institutions through a network that includes a 100 gigabit-per-second (100Gbps) fiber ring connecting the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to Internet2. This connection to Internet2, a 100Gbps nationwide network specifically for research and education, provides Oklahoma’s scientists with the high capacity they need on a network dedicated to moving big data across the country for national and global research.
This type of big data movement is not possible on conventional broadband services, because of the vast variety of internet traffic traveling these networks—everything from Google searches to Netflix movies. OneNet’s 100Gbps fiber ring, along with Internet2, provides a dedicated highway for research traffic that allows researchers to move big data whenever they need it. This dedicated highway has the capacity required for Oklahoma researchers who are driving ingenious initiatives from weather prediction to genomic research, high-energy physics, bioinformatics and supercomputing.
In addition to providing high-capacity broadband services, OneNet’s partnership with Oklahoma’s research institutions brings grant funding and jobs to the state. OneNet’s connectivity has helped bring in more than $20 million in grant funding to Oklahoma research institutions since 2009. This funding has a strong economic impact on our state.
One success story is the CRAFT project or Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test. Supported by OneNet and Internet2, CRAFT changed how weather radar data sets are provided to companies in the U.S. This empowered companies like Weather Decision Technologies and WeatherFusion to create new lines of business. These two companies alone have created more than 100 new, high-paying tech jobs.
OneNet’s connectivity also gives our institutions the flexibility required to participate in emerging research initiatives. One of those initiatives is digital humanities, which requires a wholly new approach to data and communications. Digital humanities is an area of research that harnesses the power of technology to ask new questions about history, literature, philosophy, language and culture.
For example, the Digital Latin Library, hosted at the University of Oklahoma and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is encoding ancient texts for use with sophisticated tools for visualizing and analyzing information. Other projects involve building tools for bibliographic research, using GIS data to shed new light on historical events and creating digital archives to support new research initiatives. Students involved in these projects combine the traditional strengths of the humanities (critical thinking, communication and problem-solving) with hands-on experience in data science. So far Oklahoma research institutions have received more than $7 million in new research funding in this arena.
OneNet’s network supports the economy in other ways as well. In addition to providing high-capacity networking to higher education institutions, we recently connected GE’s new global research facility in Oklahoma City to Internet2. Through this connection, we enable their researchers to move data to other research facilities across the country. Our high-capacity connectivity at the GE facility empowers world-class energy research projects that hold massive potential for the future of global energy.
Meeting the needs of Oklahoma’s research community is a vital component of OneNet’s mission to advance technology across Oklahoma. From weather prediction to global energy projects, we are committed to fostering innovation happening in our state. As we have done for the last 20 years, our support of Oklahoma’s research organizations will continue to positively impact the lives of future generations.