Springfield drone center connects to statewide network, could boost jobs

12:06 p.m Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 Business

Ohio/Indiana UAS Center in Springfield recently completed an agreement to connect to a statewide broadband network that will allow the site to connect with the city, along with several local colleges and universities.

The agreement will assist Ohio’s efforts to connect with researchers to advance drone technologies for a number of industries, local leaders said.

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The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center was created in 2013 to push for more research and commercialization of drone technologies. The Air Force Research Laboratories and the state of Ohio also are collaborating on a project to allow businesses and researchers to test unmanned aerial systems beyond the line of sight.

A 2013 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicted that over the next 10 years, the unmanned aircraft market is expected to be a $114 billion industry nationally, with a potential to create 100,000 jobs over the next decade.

The UAS headquarters in Springfield recently joined the OARnet. That’s a statewide, 100 gigabyte network that will link the center to Ohio colleges and universities, as well as several other entities. The goal is to connect the site with researchers and other entities to boost economic development in the industry.

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“Providing network connectivity to the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center through OARnet is truly a win-win scenario,” said John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education in a statement. “Here, we are leveraging the powerful reach of OARnet’s statewide network to serve economic development, as well as research and education.”

The agreement with OARnet could also provide an incentive to draw additional business related to the drone industry to the city, said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development for Springfield.

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“Gaining connectivity to OARnet’s network adds an additional economic-development tool to help attract and support existing businesses and researchers engaged in the development of unmanned aerial systems and their many sub-components,” Franzen said.

Among other entities, the project is expected to link the UAS Center in Springfield to Calamityville, a training facility for emergency responders in Fairborn. It will also connect to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

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“People can fly drones and send data over OARnet directly to the universities without having to transport them,” said David Gallagher, a spokesman for the UAS Center in Springfield, describing one way the connections will be beneficial. “These are huge data files and this capability allows us to transfer big files.”

According to information from OARnet, the city of Springfield and the Indiana Fiber Network will provide OARnet with access to “dark fiber” within their networks to complete a section of the project. The construction and installation work to connect the UAS Center to OARnet is expected to be finished by the end of the summer.