Los Angeles Connects to 100 Gbps Education Network

Los Angeles leaders say they hope to encourage other cities to do as they have and join the infrastructure connecting California's education and research worlds.

by / May 16, 2016

Los Angeles will become the first large city to connect to California’s 100 Gbps education network, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced May 12.

The California Research and Education Network (CalREN), which is operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), today connects schools, libraries, researchers and 10,000 member institutions. Connecting city departments to the network will open new data-themed opportunities for government, Garcetti said.

“The city of Los Angeles is already unmatched in digital transparency, but speed and accessibility are just as important in the 21st century,” Garcetti said in a press release. “This agreement means that young people, students of all ages, some of the world’s leading thinkers and educators can now access the city’s digital resources up to 1,000 times faster. When we open our data to the public, and commit ourselves to making it more easily available, we create limitless potential for innovation, discovery and new understanding.”

The physical connection between the city’s infrastructure and CalREN is expected to be complete “within weeks,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox.

“One of the things that we do … is we connect to other research networks, the commercial Internet, but we also have settlement-free peering with most of the major networks that you can imagine — Amazon, Google, Microsoft and so on," Fox explained. "So this is simply another peering relationship where we interconnect our network and the city of LA’s network."

The origin of this partnership was a report published by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology earlier this year, said Los Angeles Chief Technology Officer Peter Marx.

“One of the core things about this report was this thing that cities — which are such big repositories of data, data used for understanding all of urban life, if you will, and Los Angeles obviously has a massive amount of data that it publishes, something like 1,100 data sets right now," Marx said. “These data repositories and also cities as these digital service providers need to be connected not only to the educational institutions, but also the researchers, the innovators, all the different parts of [the ecosystem] at high speeds because demand is only going to get to be higher.”

And the hope, Marx added, is that more cities will follow in Los Angeles' footsteps and connect to the educational network in preparation of the coming data explosion.

The amount of collaboration government regularly engages in with outside entities makes the handling of physical records an unwieldy undertaking, said Ted Ross, the city’s general manager of Information Technology.

“This last year, we did a data analysis project at USC,” Ross said. “They had 23 graduate students and it was all around our vision zero program, which was analyzing traffic and police data, millions of records to be able to identify areas in which pedestrians and cyclists are being killed by traffic collisions. It was extremely hard to get millions of records of data physically over to USC. This type of connectivity allows us to share massive amounts of data between the city of Los Angeles and all these research universities. That’s just one tactical use of it.”

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.