I.T. Times
Volume 2. No 3 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis Spring 1994

Network 21: Bringing the Campus up to Speed

by Catherine Curran, Planning, Strategy & Administration

Did you ever think:

Welcome to the world of Network 21 - UCD's link to what is and what will be.

Network 21 is the term used to describe the fiber optic network that will interconnect the Davis campus and provide it with a high-speed on-ramp to the Information Superhighway (otherwise known as the Internet).

Once in place, Network 21 will make "going" to the library in New York and sending e-mail to Egypt as easy as plugging in a telephone.

The ability to use technology to glean information from places unseen is sending us on a journey in which the final destination has yet to be imagined. New technologies breed new applications. New applications are breeding new users. New users are breeding newer applications and, in turn, newer users.

A story about how an emergency call made from a cellular phone saved a life can convert a whole new group of cellular users. Likewise, a child telling how he used e-mail to "talk" with Russian school children may be just the "push" a parent needs to get on the Internet.

"We are in the midst of an information explosion, and Network 21 is going to make it possible for you to get information in ways that are easier and faster," says Joan Gargano, director of Information Technology's Distributed Computing Analysis and Support.

Databases, slide libraries, software programs, papers and professional journals are just a few of the information resources that can be accessed by computer. And the number of people using the Internet to tap into these resources is mushrooming.

According to Mark Gibbs, co-author of "Navigating the Internet", a new network connects to the Internet every 10 minutes.

In its April 14 edition, Investor's Business Daily quoted Gibbs as saying, "Not knowing how to use the Internet will be as grave a deficiency as not knowing how to read. The Internet will become the world's primary means of communication and will soon carry more mail than the entire postal services worldwide... The Internet now connects more people, resources and services than any other communications system except for the telephone system."

A recent report from the Internet Society supports Gibbs' claim. According to the Society, traffic on the NSF backbone grew by 20.7 percent during the month of March accounting for the largest single jump in the history of the Internet.

At UCD, the Division of Information Technology is assigning more than 1,000 new computer accounts each month. Each new computer account gives one more person license to travel the Internet. For many of those users, Network 21 is an opportunity to more effectively apply existing technology and information resources to teaching and research. (See the article Faculty Put the Network to Work)

According to Gargano, Network 21 is designed to handle the kind of heavy traffic that could put communication on the existing campus network at a standstill.

"Thinking that the current campus network can accommodate the growth in computer travel is like thinking that everyone driving from here to Southern California can use Highway 99," says Gargano.

As the name implies, Network 21 is UCD's electronic bridge to the future. While it will work to prevent information gridlock by opening new avenues, Network 21's true value will be measured by where we go, what we see and what we learn once we plug in.