Whether it's a quick call from Edmonton to Calgary or a three-hour PhD defence from Edmonton to Brazil, the Cyberports are up to the task. And more and more people are testing its reach and power.
The Cyberports on site in both Edmonton and Calgary have seen an increase in activity in recent months.
In December 2011, two PhD students utilized this service to present their dissertation defences, one from Calgary to three separate locations and another from Edmonton to Brazil.
Dr. Ricardo Campello videoconferenced from the University of Alberta, where he is a visiting researcher, to the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His dissertation topic was on 'Artificial Neural Networks,' a sub-area of artificial intelligence which aims to reproduce in a computer the human brain ability to solve varied problems using past experiences.
'The defence went well,' says Dr. Campello. 'The connection was excellent, with no major or minor issues at all! I would absolutely recommend the Cyberport to other academics looking for these kinds of facilities.'
Joanne Roberts used the Calgary Cyberport for a PhD dissertation defence given to six people, three of whom were in vastly different locations than Joanne, who is currently based in Singapore.
'One was in Calgary (using the Cyberport there), one in the Netherlands, and one was from the United States,' says Roberts.
She says her experience with the Cyberport was 'fantastic'.
'I was quite apprehensive that something would go wrong, since I had no prior experience with [using videoconferencing technology] like this. But, it was fantastic. Everyone could hear and see the presentation clearly. We were also able to have a very relaxed conversation, almost as if we were all in the same room.
'I would recommend others to the Cyberport without hesitation,' she said.
The Cyberports can also be used for more than PhD defences.
For instance, last week the facilities were booked by university students from the Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology (ISSET) who are participating in the Canada-Norway Student Sounding Rocket (CaNoRock), a partnership between the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Saskatchewan, the University of Oslo and the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway. Undergraduate students spend a week on site at the Andoya Rocket Range, gaining hands-on experience in rocket design and use.
Groups from the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary and Alberta were able to discuss details of the trip and participate in prepatory lectures prior to their travel to Norway.
David Miles, the organizer in charge of CaNoRock 5, would also recommend the Cyberport facilities, and offers this advice: 'Remember to book well in advance so the required technical details can be sorted out, and also remember to test the shared desktop presentation feature beforehand.'
Other Cyberport use examples include board meetings, or day long videoconferences.