March 02, 2007

Navajos get supercomputers

Tech tidal wave heads toward tribeIn one of the most starkly beautiful and sparsely populated deserts in the country, among a Navajo people who live in large numbers without electricity, running water, paved roads or telephone service closer than 10 miles, cutting-edge supercomputer technology is about to hook them up.

"We're going to end the digital divide in one of the poorest nations, one poorly served by public utilities," says Tom Davis, dean of instruction at Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M. "We're going to leapfrog the Navajo Nation ahead of what's available in the finest homes and communities in New York City or Denver."

The Internet to Hogan Project combines the newest innovations in radio and wireless technology, high bandwidth (OC3, or Optical Carrier level 3) and the world's largest supercomputer, TeraGrid. On a reservation the size of West Virginia--and one that sprawls over parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah--it will cause an explosion in educational opportunities, emergency communications, business possibilities, scientific and technological research, and state-of-the-art telemedicine, according to Davis and the cadre of young and zealous Navajo engineers and partners at the University of California-San Diego, University of New Mexico and so on.

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