NZ missing Internet2 boat

New Zealand is missing out on a golden opportunity to be part of the next wave of the internet's development, Internet2, says University of Otago's assistant director of information services, Neil James.

New Zealand is missing out on a golden opportunity to be part of the next wave of the internet's development, Internet2, says University of Otago's assistant director of information services, Neil James.

James will address a breakfast meeting at Unitec's centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in Auckland on Monday at which the issue of Internet2 will be the main topic of discussion.

"So far as I know no New Zealand tertiary institute is involved directly. There is some work going on at Waikato in the measurement issue, but whether it overlaps with Internet2 or not I don't know."

James says the issue of Internet2 in New Zealand and our involvement in it is an important one.

"The first thing to do is work out what exactly Internet2 is," says James. On the surface, Internet2 is a network of 170 universities and companies in the US working on building a better internet, however James says speed and bandwidth are only part of the overall project.

"There's a lot of emphasis on collaboration and improving the underlying principles of networks." James uses the example of sharing workspaces in a secure manner as one use of Internet2.

"Of course the people building it probably aren't the right people to talk to about applications that will be used on it - you really don't know what use it will be put to until it's there."

Internet2 has grown to encompass issues like very-large file transfers, such as beaming a hologram into an auditorium in real time or telemedicine solutions, such as sending 3D images of organs to doctors around the world. However, James says it is much more than that and deals with fundamental issues of how the network is built in the first place.

He says New Zealand’s lack of involvement is unusual.

"We don't have anything in the way of a research and education network or a body that promotes research and education networks."

James says this may not necessarily be a bad thing but it may have simply happened without any planning or awareness and we need to discuss whether we are missing out.

"There is the larger question of whether New Zealand should be playing a greater part in the international community for things like this."

James hopes the breakfast seminar will provide some of the answers.

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