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Sandia's Role in Building a National Information Infrastructure

Fact Sheet

Sandia National Laboratories is working closely with industry, academic institutions and government agencies to accelerate development of a national information infrastructure, also known as the information superhighway.

U.S. industry already has developed, or has the capability of developing, the elements of this national network. The main challenge is integration -- that of forging these advanced communications technologies into a national network that is easily accessible by industry, government and the public. Government clearly has a role in setting requirements, standards and regulations to ensure access, privacy, security and fair business practices. But it is lacking a mechanism to evaluate and validate various approaches to implementing the information infrastructure and to making its capabilities widely available.

Sandia as well as other Department of Energy laboratories have taken a role in helping to integrate the technologies that will be used for the information superhighway. Sandia is one of more than 50 users and providers of advanced information technologies that have formed a consortium called the National Information Infrastructure Testbed (NIIT). The NIIT is designed to develop practical uses of a national information infrastructure and to demonstrate those uses in a number of areas, particularly health care, education, government, and industry. NIIT members, which include representatives of industry, academic institutions and government agencies, hope to spur job growth and new business opportunities arising from the widespread use of these advanced information technologies.

Sandia illustrated its ability to integrate such a telecommunications network during a NIIT demonstration project on telemedicine held September 1994 in Washington, D.C. The project linked doctors across the United States over real-time, interactive, high-speed computer lines. Doctors in the various sites -- Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles, a rural hospital in California, and the Rayburn Office Building demonstration site in Washington, D.C. -- consulted on a simulated medical emergency case. They looked at medical records, examined 3-D medical images, and determined a course of treatment for an automobile accident "victim."

Sandia ensured that the various types of computer hardware and software formed a seamless interface network. Sandia also contributed to the network the use of its DS-3 delay simulator, a device that simulates the split-second communications delays that occur over the information highway. The simulator helps engineers allow for delays when setting up a network.

In a November 1993 demonstration of NIIT's Earth Data System (EDS) application, Sandia used its high-capacity, 45 megabit/second, 1,100-mile computer link between its California and New Mexico sites. Sandia was responsible for managing the nationwide EDS high-speed computer network that links nine sites throughout the United States.

EDS is a multimedia application that allows users throughout the country to work, as if side by side, with 20 years worth of environmental data and powerful computing resources. EDS will help scientists analyze issues ranging from deforestation to ocean pollution and their impact on the environment.

Sandia also has helped develop the Technology Information Environment for Industry, or TIE-IN, a remote electronic access service that provides industry with low cost, low-risk solutions to a wide variety of practical problems. TIE-IN operates as an electronic extension service to provide users -- from the unsophisticated small businessman to the expert engineer within a large corporation -- access to the national laboratories’ computational modeling and simulation capabilities, libraries, databases, and technical experts without the large expense associated with maintaining them in-house. Users can access the real-time, on-line, on-demand service from anywhere in the United States, using an IBM-compatible PC, Macintosh, or UNIX workstation. This new mechanism for technology transfer focuses on furnishing the non-expert with guided solutions embedded in smart software, while minimizing the investment required to use the information.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Media Contact
Chris Miller

Last modified: August 6, 1997

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