Workforce Development is an initiative that you would not normally associate with the responsibilities of an Internet2 GigaPoP. But when you look more closely at the technical capabilities that the GigaPoP has to offer, such as multicast, high speed video, and remote instrumentation, you begin to see that these skill sets lend themselves extremely well to a region's desire to interactively reach out to large numbers of the workforce in a cost effective manner.
Minimally, the GigaPoP is a nexus of connectivity between like-minded institutions. It provides a rich network environment that satisfies the needs of the research and educational communities it serves. But those same objectives of providing physical connectivity between those that need information and those that have information can easily be re-interpreted as meaning intellectual connectivity between the knowledge centers and those in need of knowledge. The GigaPoP has evolved into a natural collection of technical and educational resources capable of providing that necessary link between the technically disadvantaged inner city and rural populations and the talents of a world full of educational content and expertise.
So how does a research oriented GigaPoP accept this added responsibility and go about seeking solutions to the challenge? I think the first step is to accurately define the objective in some fashion that is ultimately quantifiable. If the goal is assumed to be the establishment of a communications link between educational institutions and a workforce in need of additional training, then I think that focus is too broad and will ultimately fail. If the intent is to concentrate on a specific age/economic/social grouping, then any successes will be lost amongst the sea of current and potential employees, resulting in a positive but perhaps miniscule impact on the overall labor force. What I would propose is that multiple efforts be coordinated into a common goal with the results being analyzed and fed back into the strategy pool. In this region surrounding Philadelphia there are many excellent initiatives with similar objectives but overall lack the venue for sharing results and using each others processes as a means of achieving individual success. These meaningful but fragmented efforts, if combined, have the potential to move the city and the region effectively towards achieving its vision.
Reinforcing the concept of the GigaPoP as a nexus of connectivity, MAGPI is building a network foundation in this region. It is a central resource whose primary function is to enable communications for the visionary. In the course of pursuing this mission, we are also striving to be perceived as an independent organization eager to take the back seat and assist others realize their potential. This may take the form of collaborative science and medical research, or, international partners bringing their language, culture, and ideas to this area or, it may be a group of students in the 5-60 year old range discover their personal goals amidst the heat and the violence of an inner-city neighborhood. This is our job.
MAGPI will most likely double, and possibly triple, its size in the next 10 months. Our involvement with Internet2 has never been stronger, especially in the area of international collaborations and K-20 initiatives. We are also looking forward to new experiences with the City of Philadelphia and the Mayor's Council on Technology in the area of Workforce Development. What better way to participate in a region's growth than to act as a bridge between the educational community, commerce, and government. We invite you to participate as well through your creative thoughts, your criticism (constructive), and your financial support of any of the numerous Workforce Development programs already underway.
All the Best,
Gregory D. Palmer