Ufopa becomes the first university connected by high-speed sub-river infoways

- 17/08/2023

In August 2023, the Federal University of Western Pará (Ufopa) became the first university in the North region to be connected by two fiber optic infovias: Infovia 00, which connects Macapá and Santarém, and Infovia 01, which in turn connects Santarém to Manaus. Together, the infovias total almost 2 thousand km in length of underwater fiber optic cables installed in the riverbeds of the Amazon basin, with connectivity capable of benefiting up to four million inhabitants. 

The two projects are part of the Norte Conectado Program, of the Ministry of Communications, which aims to expand communications infrastructure in the Amazon region. With investments of R$165 million, Infovia 01 passes through nine cities between the states of Pará and Amazonas, which have a population of up to 3 million people.  

The implementation of the sub-river cable was the responsibility of the company EAD – Seja Digital, which will also build metropolitan networks in each of these municipalities to connect public equipment, such as schools, hospitals and units of the Judiciary, in addition to installing Wi-Fi wireless network points in public squares. 

Of these cities, six have Ufopa units, where 41 undergraduate and 18 postgraduate courses are offered. In 2023, the university had 5,400 students enrolled, 530 indigenous and 442 quilombolas.  

According to the university's dean, Aldenize Xavier, several research and extension projects will benefit from this connectivity, especially those focused on the Amazon bioeconomy and socio-biodiversity. One example is the laboratory that improves the extraction of Andiroba, for bioproducts made by the Amélias da Amazônia project. Other lines of research study the properties of murumuru, jambo, cassava and forest seeds. 

“Having a potential for connectivity both at the university and in these locations in the region as a whole allows us to be connected with the world and showcase the products we have developed”, says the dean. 

Potential for telemedicine 

On 7/8, while participating in the inauguration ceremony of Infovia 01, at the Ufopa headquarters in Santarém, the President of the Republic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the hospital ship Escola Abaré, which has belonged to the university since 2015 and has a structure for medical and dental care for the riverside population. The vessel will now have full-time connectivity via a satellite antenna installed by RNP.  

Abaré serves 76 communities along the Tapajós River and makes at least six expeditions a year. It is estimated that the vessel has already carried out 20 thousand services since its acquisition by Ufopa in 2015. 

From the vessel, President Lula participated in a videoconference transmitted to four other basic health units, two of which are relevant to telemedicine. The Telemedicine Center of Parintins (AM), the first telehealth service point in Brazil, and the Getúlio Vargas Hospital of the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam), in Manaus. In fact, the service used for videoconferencing was Conferência Web, from RNP, developed with national technology. 

Lula confweb
Presidente Lula participa de videoconferência utilizando o serviço de Conferência Web da RNP.

On the occasion, the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, announced that the ministry is interested in using Infovia 01 to connect the Basic Health Units in the region, thus improving primary health care and promoting digital inclusion. 

According to the national coordinator of the Telemedicine University Network (RUTE), Luiz Ary Messina, the two departments are coordinating significant connectivity actions in digital health in teaching health establishments, within the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC).  

Communications Minister Juscelino Filho stated that another three infoways will be launched by the end of the year, connecting Belém to Manaus, Tefé to Tabatinga, in Amazonas, and Vila do Moura to Boa Vista, in Roraima. In total, the Norte Conectado Program will build eight infovias, benefiting 58 million people. The minister also revealed the desire to use optical fiber for sensing and monitoring data in the Amazon. 

At the inauguration ceremony, Rector Aldenize Xavier warned that the Norte Conectado Program, as a public policy, helps to repair the country's “historical debt” of investments in the Amazon. “Connectivity today is synonymous with citizenship, because in all public services you need to access through a digital platform. Not having connectivity means not having access to several rights”, highlighted the dean. 

Belém will host COP30 in 2025 

At the inauguration of Infovia 01, President Lula also highlighted that, in 2025, Belém do Pará will host the 30th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 30), where solutions to the climate crisis will be discussed. At Ufopa, several climate researches are carried out, involving the impacts of extractivism, deforestation, as well as monitoring fish reproduction and air quality.  

The connectivity of Infovias 00 and 01 will benefit access to the Ufopa supercomputer, located in Santarém, which processes data collected by a probe maintained on a farm in partnership with the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe). With this, it will be possible for other students from all over Brazil to analyze meteorological data from the Amazon for climate studies. 

For Ufopa's IT director, Rafael Miranda, the biggest impact of Infovia 01 will be the integration between Ufopa's campuses. “All of these campuses are already served by RNP, but the infovia will bring the possibility of connecting them into a high-speed network. This will enable researchers in their city to access our research center, where there is the Tapajós cluster, located on the premises of the Ufopa datacenter”, explains the IT director. 

Confweb no Abaré
Ufopa's IT director, Rafael Miranda, and professor Cleinaldo Costa, from the State University of Amazonas, test the Conferência Web.
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