EPSCoR - Montana NSF

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The project proposed here leverages on a 10-year collaborative effort by the Northern Tier Networking Consortium (NTNC), a group of chief information officers, information technology professionals and network engineers representing 12 Northwest states and their universities and colleges. The overall strategy is to target three strategic locations, where a modest investment in funds can greatly augment and enable communities currently not served adequately by the current connectivity infrastructure.

This Montana University System (MUS) project will extend the capacity of its newly activated, owned-fiber network, the Montana Northern Tier Network (MT-NTN), in three important ways:

  • by building out three new strategically placed connection points to facilitate local site connections to the MT-NTN in Billings, Miles City and Ronan, Montana
  • to use one of the new connection points to create access for MUS researchers to computational and data storage facilities in the State of Montana Data Center in Miles City, Montana
  • to use new and existing connection sites to create and support strategically important site connections for a Montana State University campus, three community colleges and one tribal college

This proposal leverages two core focus areas from the MUS Science and Technology Plan; specifically research in environmental and ecosystem science and in health and biomedical sciences. Improved connectivity will enhance the collection and streaming of data from environmental sensors to local data aggregation points and will enable real-time observation of ecosystem changes on a national network scale. Extending the network into rural and underserved areas will provide access to health related information and will support research to understand health conditions that affect various populations disproportionately, focusing especially on health care for Montana’s rural, indigenous, and lower socioeconomic populations. This proposal will leverage these important efforts through collaboration with the recently awarded FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Project–the Health Information Exchange of Montana (HIEM)–a rural health network initiated by five independently owned and operated hospitals and two federal funded community health centers.