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Mars Discovery District connects to ORION and global grid


Toronto, ON – The Mars Discovery District’s research and collaboration facilities are now linked to the global research and scientific networking community, through ORION and the worldwide grid of advanced research and education (R&E) networks.

Mars Discovery District and the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION) have agreed to collaborate and to connect the Mars facilities with an ultra high-speed optical fibre connection to Ontario’s advanced, fully optical R&E network. As a result, Mars obtains significant, virtually unlimited bandwidth to support its activities, including advanced videoconferencing capabilities and the ability to offer collaborative technology services at extremely high speeds.

“Advanced networks like ORION are part of the new critical infrastructure for global research and innovation, and it’s important that Mars connect directly with colleagues and researchers here at home in Ontario and around the world,” says Dr Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of Mars. “This agreement allows us to leverage significant provincial investments in landmark research-support initiatives.”

“Few jurisdictions can match what we now have in place, here in Ontario,” says Phil Baker ORION’s president/CEO. He emphasizes that this new partnership extends Mars’ access to 21 Ontario cities and lays the foundation for expansion of research collaborations, extending the benefits of new research capabilities to all regions of Ontario.

The new gigabit connection allows Mars to collaborate with ORION’s connected institutions, including all Ontario universities, most colleges, several teaching hospitals and numerous research institutions. It also provides Mars with a direct pipeline to Canada’s CA(*)net 4 national backbone and to global R&E networks including Internet2, GEANT in Europe and APAN in Asia.

the two organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding, which sets the stage for collaboration and support of mutual goals. It includes an agreement to co-host the annual Ontario Research and Education Summit at the new Mars Collaboration Centre facilities, next June 5 and 6, 2006.

The ORION connection will support and provide enhanced access to Mars’ communication and collaboration technologies, including multi-site, high- definition advanced video conferencing; virtual whiteboards and collaboration tools, webcasting and archiving, video links and remote participation for virtual conferences and events; media broadcast capabilities and emerging technologies such as audience response systems, decision support and distributed meetings.

ORION says it plans to complete the connection to the Mars facilities by the end of this month.