Computer Resource Network, Department of Urban Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Data Center Description
CRN supports departmental computing in DUSP and complements MIT's campus-wide Information Systems. The CRN's specialized computing facilities include a mix of geographic information systems, multimedia representational aids, spatial data access tools, and urban modeling software applications that reflect DUSP's special interest in understanding places and spaces. The CRN works closely with DUSP program groups to facilitate research and education about how information technologies can influence the way people think and communicate about urban and regional places.
CRN depends primarily on an online infrastructure that makes use of MIT's Project Athena resources and augments them with network services, PC/Mac/linux/unix workstations, software applications, video editing tools, scanners, CD-writers, and other peripherals that are needed for DUSP research and education. This infrastructure has provided a heterogenous environment for accessing distributed databases, analytical models, visual images, and graphical tools from a variety of platforms including personal machines. Each student has an Athena account that allows access to e-mail, the Internet, the World Wide Web, course data, digital cameras, and an extensive software library.
CRN's physical facilities include several collaborative computing work spaces, a computer-supported lecture space, computer-based hands-on instructional facilities, and specialized computer-supported research and studio areas. Computing work in these DUSP spaces frequently involves GIS and other forms of specialized analysis, access to large sets via specialized database management tools, computer-aided design, the creation of multimedia projects that juxtapose analysis results with maps and imagery, and document production. Much of this work happens in parallel with small teams of students and researchers drawing from each others' expertise. CRN staff offices are concentrated on the 5th floor of Building 9.
CRN resources can also be accessed from many MIT-supported classroom and computing lab facilities that house hundreds of workstations and dozens of projection facilities--all of which have connections (wired or wireless) to the Internet. Students can use personal laptops as well as DUSP/MIT machines to access CRN resources from classrooms and labs, and even the Dome Cafe. Some CRN resources can be accessed from personal machines that are off campus.