By Jana Manolakos
In 1993, the Canadian Government and the private sector launched a national network, the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE), designed to help scientists and academics link vast amounts of research data across Canada and the world. A year later in 1994, the World Wide Web followed, bringing internet to the masses. CANARIE aimed to play a key role in Canada’s emerging and evolving internet, and it continues to this day, across an impressive 31,000 kilometres of coast-to-coast ultra-high-speed research and education network.
One million researchers, scientists and students at over 2,000 Canadian institutions, including universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals and government laboratories, have access to CANARIE’s high-speed network. Twelve provincial and territorial network partners, together with CANARIE, collectively form Canada’s National Research and Education Network.
In addition to its network, which operates at speeds up to 100 Gigabits per second (enough to download a two-hour HD video in 4/10 of a second), CANARIE’s research software service supports and funds the development of software tools. Through its Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) program, small businesses and entrepreneurs gain access to its free cloud-computing resources and advanced networking to boost commercialization. CANARIE also manages and operates the Canadian Access Federation, an access management environment that provides users with local and international WiFi connectivity and content. It also supports research data management (RDM) workflow – data creation, storage, access and reuse, with different software components and tools.
In 2016 the network was expected to transmit close to 258,000 terabytes of data, or the equivalent of 67,500,000 HD movies that would take over 15,000 years to watch. Two short years later, that number grew to 313,000 terabytes.
Last year, the Canadian government announced an additional $137 million to support CANARIE’s activities for the next four years, with a mandate to focus on network evolution and initiatives that ensure Canada’s researchers and entrepreneurs realize the benefits of cloud technology, big data and global research collaborations.
“This is an exciting new chapter for CANARIE,” says Jim Ghadbane, president and CEO. “Over the course of our 26-year history, we have evolved to meet the changing needs of Canadians, and we look forward to the next stage of our evolution. Going forward, we will continue to learn from and build on the successful collaborations of our current mandate to deliver world-class infrastructure and services to the Canadians that are pushing the boundaries of discovery and innovation.”
The renewal of CANARIE’s mandate is a key part of the Government of Canada’s Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) Strategy, and is the result of a community effort to highlight the need for continued investment in Canada’s essential digital research infrastructure – high-speed networks, advanced research computing, software tools and research data management – that enable Canada to lead in a wide range of scientific domains.