Broadband connectivity at the University of the Virgin Islands is striving toward matching the capabilities of major research institutions in the continental United States. When UVI and VI-EPSCoR initially partnered, significant challenges in technology infrastructure were identified including the unique complications that come with hosting campuses on two different islands (St. Thomas and St. Croix).
Information Technology Services (ITS) supports Mare Nostrum Caribbean by carrying out cyberinfrastructure improvements. Some of the successes to date are:
- Significant progress toward increasing network capabilities from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps.
- Internet fiber connections of 1 Gbps between campuses and out to the Internet, with a backup wireless connection of 400 Mbps.
- Video Conferencing and Smart Classroom systems between the campuses with redundancy and high bandwidth connectivity.
- VI-EPSCoR continues its work with UVI Information Technology Services (ITS) on infrastructure investments to strengthen the university’s environment for research.
These investments have led to increased capacity to conduct and share research with Internet2 institutions as well as provide four times the storage capacity previously available. The data storage is more secure with built-in redundancies and is backed up nightly.
The improved infrastructure enhances teaching and research, and facilitates distance learning and communication between islands. Significantly, there is a greater sense of unity between the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses due to enhanced video conferencing and increased remote learning opportunities. Students, teachers and researchers are directly impacted by the infrastructure improvements.
Moving forward, our goals for technological advancements at UVI include:
- Upgrade research servers (on-going).
- Upgrade core network equipment to accommodate new technology and increase data transmission speeds.
- Establish the necessary cyberinfrastructure to support marine and environmental research.
- Upgrade aged building cabling.
- Upgrade Uninterrupted Power Supply that are connected to network equipment.
- Continued support of research technology needs.
- Implement a cloud-based disaster recovery solution for research data.
- Facilitate the integration of UVI’s faculty and staff into nationwide interdisciplinary research collaborative initiatives.
In an effort to further unite our three islands, ITS is exploring solutions to connection challenges with the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) on the island of St. John. Established by UVI in 1966 for environmental educational activities and scientific research, VIERS is also a biology field station and eco-camp. This research facility is under utilized due to a complete lack of high-performance connection to the Internet. Without Video Conferencing and Smart Classroom capabilities, research and teaching is limited. Our long term goal is to put the needed technology in place to fully realize the potential of this remote research location.