Installed as part of the e-Science Initiative, it is primarily seen as a research tool, allowing individuals or groups to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions in furthering their work. Sessions can be informal or formal, and can take the form of meetings, seminars, lectures, or just work sessions.
The geowall made up of images from 3 projectors; 2 of which are showing video images from the sites, while the 3rd has a PowerPoint presentation (which can be animated).
Whatever form the sessions take, it is possible to exchange information or data via PowerPoint presentations, slide shows or whiteboard connections.
Unlike standard video conferencing, it is easy to link to several venues, having the capacity to connect 40 different locations if required - although, routinely, 3 to 4 venues would produce a very effective work session.
The venues could be a mix of national and international - i.e. the possibility to link to anywhere that has the Access Grid installed.
Unlike video conferencing, which relies on telephone links and costs, the Access Grid uses the existing computer broadband network, and incurs no added cost (there is a charge outside of normal working hours).
Given that the Access grid is computer- and software-driven, it can be seen as an extension of standard computer practice. It also relies on one of the introductions seen in computer-based messaging – chat rooms or virtual venues.
The Access Grid, which was developed in the USA at the Argonne National Laboratories, uses Servers at ANL, at inSORS (our suppliers in Chicago) or, in the UK, at the Access Grid Support Centre, based in Manchester. A number of virtual venues have been created, with each user having its own venue (although it does not rule out using someone else's venue). Meetings are held in these virtual venues. For the most part, security is not an issue, however, it is possible to encrypt a meeting if required, and this is now made easier with the latest version of the inSORS software.
Part of the controlling computer's desktop, with some of the projected images on the geowall.