Cyberinfrastructure: A Foundation for Innovation

The first thought that comes to mind when I think of cyberinfrastructure is one of potential advancement through collaboration.  To get better acquainted with the concept, let’s discuss what the term cyberinfrastructure references.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) in the report Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure states,

The newer term cyberinfrastructure refers to infrastructure based upon distributed computer, information and communication technology. If infrastructure is required for an industrial economy, then we could say that cyberinfrastructure is required for a knowledge economy.

In the NSF SBE-CISE Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure and the Social Sciences report the NSF further states,

Cyberinfrastructure has the potential to be a fundamental enabler of innovations and new discoveries, and it is just as critical for the advancement of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences as it is for engineering and the physical, natural, biological, and computer sciences.

Meaning that continued investment and focused improvement in cyberinfrastructure has the potential to accelerate innovation and discovering within these communities, which in turn could be beneficial to us all.  Much of the focus of cyberinfrastructure has been on how to leverage the technology to generate advances in learnings through better technological and social networks.  Cyberinfrastructure is the foundation that can be used to develop learning and knowledge share with the use of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Cyberinfrastructure supports individuals in the utilization of ICTs and will enable them to explore new ways of developing and sharing knowledge.  They bring experts together and enable them to communicate across time and space to achieve positive results.  In these endeavors, they may use virtual teleconferencing (VTC), web conferencing tools, video chat tools, and other ICT tools.

Going back to the initial subject of collaboration, I spend many of my days leveraging several ICTs to better communicate with people all over the world.  Just this week, I had a day of meetings where I transitioned from a Polycom (VTC) meeting to a Skype call to a VoIP personal conferencing call to a Google+ Hangout.  That afternoon I was in WebEx so that the cross-functional team I was working with could utilize Desktop Sharing in a fluid manner so we could all see a variety of data being shared.  This list does not include the technology we use to communicate asynchronously.  And it is just an average day for many of us working around the world!

Cyberinfrastructure has granted all of us an ability to knowledge share in the most incredible ways.  As it is continuously improved upon in the public and private sectors, I look forward to seeing how it will be leveraged to aid in the progression of scientific discovery and forward economic advancement.

Now we just need to cognizant of the time zones each member of the team is working in.

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