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Superior launches groundbreaking collaborative project

Posted on Dec 17, 2012
High-speed, high-capacity network saves tax dollars, connects critical community institutions.

Superior, Wis. -- Community Area Network, or CAN: It may not be a term you've heard before, but the new collaboratively run Superior CAN has the potential to change the way Superior connects its critical community institutions to high-speed internet, to each other, and to the world.

Think of the CAN like a cooperative: Local community-based institutions all provide resources to help create and maintain a shared high speed, high capacity local data network.

This CAN has the potential to connect its members to internet speeds of 1 to 10 gigabits and redundant networks. That means each participating institution has the network speed and capacity they need as well as a "back-up internet."  Area organizations currently participating in the CAN include the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, the School District of Superior, the City of Superior and Douglas County.

Although the project is still in its early stages, each collaborating institution expects to see significant benefits from its participation in the CAN.

Members of the CAN will be working in coming weeks to select and purchase the equipment needed to activate the CAN fiber optic cabling, which is currently being installed.

"It is fair to say that the CAN is in its infancy and we are just starting to understand what opportunities it will bring the organizations involved in the CAN," said Dr. Peter Nordgren of UW-Superior.  

Case Study: WITC and the CAN

Benefits of participating in the CAN will be slightly different for each organization. Jim Dahlberg of WITC explains what he sees as the benefits of CAN participation for his organization:

"Currently, WITC has constant challenges with providing suitable network connections because of the distances between campuses. In the past, services needed to be installed at each campus because the network capacity was not enough to locate the service off site.  The college can now build a network of services that can be shared and consolidated between campuses.

"This allows WITC to easily do data backups between locations, and using the fiber to consolidate servers, storage and other service devices will save budget as well as resources needed to support the services. Budget saved by using the server fiber and not purchasing fiber can be reinvested in providing more capacity to those campuses that are purchased through vendors." 

A shared connection means the potential for shared savings, as well. The college hopes to save budget through travel and improve on communications throughout the college, as well as between organizations through shared applications.    

The network also allows WITC to be creative in its program offerings; sharing the same program at multiple campuses and combine the number students allows cost effective programming and course expansion."  

UW-Superior's Nordgren said the collaboration on the network design has already brought more collaboration between the entities involved in the CAN, and the conversation is expanding with every meeting. 

"As the conversation expands between members, opportunities will present themselves. New ideas for applications are emerging as our networks become connected.  The CAN now becomes an option for sharing services and expanding at an affordable cost," he said.

The Superior CAN was launched as part of the University of Wisconsin-Extension's federal ARRA-grant funded project connecting communities to technology and technology education in five communities across Wisconsin.

For more information on the project, see:

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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