Mandate Renewal


Imagine having to apply for your job every five years, even if your performance has been great and you’re the acknowledged expert in your field!

CANARIE is in a comparable position; we receive funding from the Government of Canada, through Industry Canada, on a five-year basis. We’re now working toward our next mandate, which will begin in April 2012.

We are fortunate in that we also get to help shape our job description as we work with Industry Canada to secure funding. And while we’re at it, we’re polishing up our resume and gathering references.

The Job Description

In the best of all possible worlds, we could approach Industry Canada with a digital “Wish List,” but in the current fiscal environment, that just will not fly. So we’ve consulted widely with stakeholders, reviewed environmental factors, analyzed our data, and developed a proposal that balances the needs of our user community with the very real fiscal challenges the Government faces. The proposal contains three key elements:

1. Evolve the Network to Meet Growing Demand

  • Increase network bandwidth to address the trend of data-intensive research. At the recent Cybera Summit, someone noted that “Big Data is the new oil” – so we need to be prepared to move it, use it, and leverage it!
  • Expand the network to connect additional institutions, strengthening Canada’s web of brainpower from coast to coast to coast.
  • Provide funding support to help our provincial partners develop network infrastructure and services, to ensure all regions benefit from CANARIE’s network power.

2. Build Network Tools to Speed Time to Discovery

  • Develop a generic cloud-based research environment with a simple interface – a research “browser” that builds on the innovations of the Network-Enabled Platforms Program, to help researchers easily access and use research data and tools.
  • Create discipline-specific software plug-ins (e.g., health, social sciences) based on existing Network-Enabled Platform research tools, to enhance researcher productivity.
  • Cultivate the next generation of Green IT by building on existing investments and supporting made-in-Canada solutions.

3. Leverage the Network to Commercialize Innovation

  • Fully implement the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program, to help stimulate Canada’s ICT sector and help digital entrepreneurs get their products and services to market quickly.

The Resume

What have we accomplished in the past 18 years? Here are a few highlights…

  • Ushered Canada from the age of telephones, teletypes and faxes, to the lightning-fast Internet age.
  • Increased connection speeds from 56 kbps (kilobits per second) links to 100 Gbps (gigabits per second) in some corridors.
  • Supported the national development of critical digital infrastructure through funding support to our provincial network partners.
  • Connected over 1 million users at 1,100 universities, colleges, hospitals, and research labs to each other, data and tools, and the rest of the world.
  • Deemed “essential, effective and efficient” by our stakeholders.
  • Supported the three key advantages (people, entrepreneurial, knowledge) identified in Canada’s Science and Technology Strategy.
  • Stimulated Canada’s ICT industry by offering a robust R&D environment to small and medium-sized companies.
  • Driven $2.85 of GDP growth for every dollar invested in CANARIE.
  • Enabled discovery and innovation across a wide range of research disciplines, leading to a better quality of life for Canadians.

The References

This is where you come in. The elected officials who ratify the budget – and who, by the way, are more likely to be lawyers than researchers – won’t just take our word for how important CANARIE is to Canadian research, education and innovation. Furthermore, they are actively looking for ways to trim the budget.

That’s why your voice matters. Decision-makers need to understand that CANARIE has broad support among our stakeholders, and we’ve tried to make it easy for you to show your support. There are three ways you can help us:

  1. Write a letter to Prime Minister Harper (We’ve got a template you can use, and address information here.)
  2. Speak up! If you are a university researcher, raise the issue with your institution’s Government Relations Officer. Or, simply raise the issue with your institution’s leadership and encourage them to show their support for CANARIE’s renewal.
  3. Send a postcard (Send us an e-mail and we’ll send you a handful.)

Find out more about championing CANARIE’s mandate renewal by visiting the “Show Your Support” page on our website.

Users’ Forum 2011

Mark Roman CANARIE hosted a very successful Users’ Forum in Ottawa October 26 and 27. We welcomed more than 80 participants, from British Columbia to Newfoundland to the Northwest Territories.

Attendees included university staff, small business owners, government representatives, provincial network partners, representatives of sister organizations, and researchers who rely on CANARIE.

This varied group was asked to provide CANARIE with specific feedback on what to incorporate in the three broad elements of our mandate renewal proposal (as described in the Mandate Renewal article). The energy level was high, the breakout groups provided valuable insight and direction, and overall feedback on the Forum was very positive.

Dr. Gilles Patry, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), kicked off the event with a presentation that described the current environment and its impact on the strategic direction of CFI. He noted a strong focus from government on the connection between research and development and GDP, and the connection between research and development and Canada’s productivity gap. He also reiterated a demand by government for a significantly closer alignment between publicly funded research and private sector innovation.

CANARIE’s proposal for mandate renewal addresses these issues, through the development of tools that enhance researcher productivity and accelerate research outcomes; the extension of the network to additional research and education institutions in the public and private sector; and the expansion of the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program, which provides a digital test-bed for entrepreneurs to quickly validate and demonstrate products before moving them to market.

CANARIE will be using the feedback from the Users’ Forum to flesh out each of the three elements of our mandate renewal, so that we will be in a position to move quickly once we know our mandate has been renewed.

When will we know when our mandate has been renewed, you ask? The same time as everyone else – on Budget Day, 2012!

Users' Forum in progress

DAIRing to Innovate

Mark Roman CANARIE’s DAIR Program – the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research – is in full swing. The current pilot program is designed to help small and medium-sized companies in the ICT sector to accelerate their time to market by providing an advanced R&D environment — a “digital sandbox” — where high-tech innovators can design, validate, prototype and demonstrate new technologies.

DAIR includes a dedicated portion of CANARIE’s network, together with compute and storage facilities provided by Cybera and Compute Canada. This kind of advanced technical environment can be difficult – or even impossible – for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to put in place. It costs time and money (thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars!). After receiving dozens of proposals, CANARIE selected five to participate in phase one of this pilot project. Now, 22 users are on the system with three more on deck, and invitations sent out to five more SMEs.

“The current field of users represents an extremely varied, creative and completely different types of applications or businesses they represent,” says Jim Ghadbane, Chief Technology Officer. “They are using DAIR to do things they would not be able to do otherwise, like further investigation, or evaluation of different processes, systems and algorithms.”

Our partners in the DAIR Program, Cybera and Compute Canada, have put together a short video that shows the impact DAIR is having on Canada’s digital entrepreneurs – check it out.

Spacing Out – In a Good Way!

auroral ovalThis October, Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory II (AUGO II) was connected to the CANARIE network. When it is completed, AUGO II will be Canada’s newest and most complete subauroral observatory, dedicated to studying the aurora and its underlying solar-terrestrial origins using optical and magnetic instrumentation.

The observatories' location on the southern edge of the northern Auroral Oval (the area of light around the Earth's north geomagnetic poles), place it in an optimal position to observe auroral substorm activity, which has attracted leading space physics scientists from around the world.

What goes on in space affects us in many ways. Substorms themselves can cause power line fluctuations that can and have caused power failures and transformer damage. The slow cumulative effect of auroras can cause corrosion in pipelines. Auroral effects on the ionosphere can affect the accuracy of Global Positioning Systems, so this kind of advanced subauroral research has tangible benefits here on earth. The new observatory will have residential facilities on the main floor for up to nine people.

The facility will be fully connected to the outside world by means of a newly constructed 100 Mbps (megabit per second) dedicated data link to Athabasca University, allowing guest researchers to keep in touch with their experiments and their data.

Other upcoming new CANARIE connections include:

  • Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa
  • University of Waterloo's Summit Centre for the Environment – Hunstville
  • Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada facilities in Quebec and British Columbia

CANARIE is continuing to expand the network to deliver advanced network services that support world-class, data-intensive research.

AUGO 2Left: The second Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory (AUGO II) under construction.

Image at top: The auroral ovals are constantly in motion, expanding towards the equator or contracting towards the pole, and constantly changing in brightness. (University College London).

More News

Media Moments

CANARIE – and the work we support – have been in the news recently.

The Daily Gleaner announces the launch of the New Brunswick network.

CANARIE is cited as part of what makes Canada a Great Place to do Business

News of our (very positive) Program Evaluation: CANARIE releases independent evaluation

CBRAIN project news: Hat trick for Alzheimer's grand challenge

GreenStar Network news: Dirty data: The Internet's giant carbon footprint

What's on the Calendar?

CANARIE will be talking about advanced networks, innovation and mandate renewal over the next few months:

Time to Clean the Kitchen?

Antibiotic Resistance

Cartoon by Nick D Kim, Used by permission.