The Access Grid system and Great Western Research
As part of the original GWR project, HEFCE provided funding of over £ 1 million to set up a South West Regional Postgraduate Training Network.
After detailed consultations, GWR decided to invest in Access Grid technology to allow multiway video conferencing between sites in the South West and thus deliver postgraduate training in an efficient and environmentally sensitive manner. The basic concept was that numerous sites would be able to link together to participate in training sessions thus eliminating the need to travel between sites.
For example, the images below are taken in the Exeter Access Grid node during the launch and inaugural lecture session of the MAGIC applied maths training consortium, for which 20 sites linked over the Access Grid , with over 150 participants joining the virtual meeting from all over the UK.
If this meeting had been held in a "conventional" sense, we can estimate that approximately 120 people would have to have traveled an average of 150 miles each to attend the meeting and each spent an average of 3.5 hours traveling .
Thus using the Access Grid allowed a saving of 18,000 travel miles and 240 hours travel time for this single event ! ! !
GWR has commissioned and constructed seminar rooms at Bath, Bristol, Exeter, UWE and Plymouth which are equipped with 4 cameras to capture all of the activity in the room, and are fully mic'd for discussions.
In addition we have installed two full Access Grid systems in the Wickham Theatre in Bristol for the performing arts to benefit from the technology.
A video wall is projected from 3 ceiling mounted projectors, which show incoming video and data streams from participating sites, as well as the central data stream ( usually a powerpoint presentation ) and the image of the presenter which is being seen by all sites.
With full video and audio communication, workshop sessions work just as well as traditional seminars and question and answer sessions.
To date there are over1000 access Grid sites worldwide, so research meetings can be held without the travel, time,costs and inconvenience previously required.
For example our nodes have recently linked to a node in Fiji for a research meeting !
The image below was taken at a MAGIC workshop session in progress at Exeter in Applied Maths, and the World map shows just some of the places the Access Grid is now available
The overall savings can be very great, even for small meetings.
Imagine the travel costs, travel time and carbon emissions saved by an Access Grid meeting in place of a face to face meeting between 6 academics from Bath, Exeter , Bristol and for example 2 academics from the University of Stamford in California.and you begin to see the power of the Access Grid approach.
For more information on the Access Grid in general you can visit the Access Grid Support Center site in Manchester,
OR you can watch a short video introduction to the Access Grid.on the AGSC site.
For more information on the GWR Access Grid facilities, to book the facilities for a meeting or lecture, or to locate the facility nearest to you , please contact
Dr Paul Hudson in the GWR office in the first instance.
Paul Hudson 01392 269 104 ; firstname.lastname@example.org