November 14, 2006

Researcher leads regional technology mapping

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is signaling a change in telecommunications service for the region.

Tonny J. Oyana, assistant professor of geography and environmental resources, has secured $3 million in funding for his "Geographic Information Systems Mapping Project for Southern Illinois."

Oyana is leading a team of SIUC faculty and students in creating a map of the broadband infrastructure in the region to help governments and businesses address consumer needs.

"This is unprecedented. This is the first effort of its kind in Southern Illinois," Oyana said. "We want to identify all the pockets of demand."

The project started in April and continues picking up steam as more money pours in from telecommunications network providers, state and federal agencies. The groups are interested in bringing businesses to Southern Illinois, centered on the concept of broadband connectivity.

"The project will be utilized for tourism and economic development planning by the private sector as well as local governments. Plus, more people with access to broadband means more economic opportunities, especially in rural and underserved areas," Oyana said.

Staying connected is something Oyana does not take for granted. He has family and friends all across the world thanks to a life spent spanning the globe. Oyana holds a bachelor of science degree from Tanzania's University of Dar-es-Salaam, a masters in geography from National University of Ireland and a doctorate in geography from State University of New York, Buffalo.

His roots may be far away but Oyana is dedicated to helping the residents of Southern Illinois, a place he calls home.

"This is an important project. We are creating something that wasn't there before — the fusion between rural and metropolitan areas through technology."

Enhancing the culture of research and scholarship is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.


Tonny J. Oyana

Tonny J. Oyana
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