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Surrey’s Computing Department reduces costs and carbon for international initiatives

...using Access Grids substantially reduces environmental impacts: transporting one passenger between the institutions would result in 2000kg of CO2 emissions.

The University of Surrey’s Department of Computing is using high-performance videoconferenceing for activities in the new Surrey International Institute (SII), a collaborative programme with Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (DUFE) in China.

The high-performance videoconferenceing system, familiarly referred to as an Access Grid, has been used by Surrey and DUFE to facilitate discussions over strategic matters.

The Access Grid has been put to good use in hosting meetings between senior management teams at Surrey and DUFE, and has been used to interview students in China, and to interview staff for appointments in DUFE in support of the SII.

Positive side effects of using Access Grids include reducing the overheads of geographical displacement, particularly the costs and time of travel, and the effects of jet lag, though the 8-hour time difference has to be managed.

In addition, using Access Grids substantially reduces environmental impacts: transporting one passenger between the institutions would result in 2000kg of CO2 emissions.

The Department’s Access Grid was installed in 2006 as part of the Department of Computing’s Science Research Investment Funds (SRIF) allocation, in anticipation of just such an initiative.

The Department has successfully used Access Grids to connect with local schools and colleges, in a sponsored by the Higher Education Academy for Information and Computer Science (HEA-ICS).

Virtual classroom sessions on Space Science and Web Science were provided to Coombe’s two schools, and an interactive Q&A session was held in collaboration with Esher College.

Starting in September 2008, the Department will offer a Surrey-accredited Masters degree in China, initially using the Access Grid to support interactions at distance, though with an eye towards virtual classes.

Offering these degrees in China is part of the University’s recently published long term strategy, identifying the importance of international presence.

Original Article

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