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SDSC Helps Connect San Diego Families with Loved Ones in Iraq

Center Leverages Existing Cyberinfrastructure Resources to Offer Complimentary Video Conferencing Services for Deployed Military Servicemen and Women

Published 02/23/2006

Media contact:
Greg Lund, SDSC Communications, 858-534-8314 or greg@sdsc.edu
Ashley Wood, SDSC Communications, 858-534-8363 or awood@sdsc.edu

(Updated March 2, 2006)

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) announced today that it will host regular video teleconferencing (VTC) sessions connecting San Diego military families with loved ones currently serving their country in Iraq. Utilizing existing satellite uplink technology and staffed by SDSC volunteers, the center will open its doors each Saturday to give families the opportunity to spend about 30 minutes virtually face-to-face with their loved ones.

This service is a collaboration between SDSC and the organization Freedom Calls, which provides the satellite uplink at the Al-Asad Air Base and Camp Fallujah in Iraq. Freedom Calls is currently working to raise funds to construct a third video conferencing site in Taqaddum, Iraq.

"SDSC is delighted to work with Freedom Calls on this extremely worthy program," said Dr. Fran Berman, Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center. "It's a wonderful use of SDSC's cutting edge technologies and outstanding staff. We feel priviledged to be able to support San Diego families in connecting with their loved ones overseas, and are happy to have the opportunity to help."

Dick Bartlett, volunteer and VTC coordinator concurs.

"It's great to live at a time when technology makes it possible for people to be together, even though they are half a world apart," explains Bartlett. "Video teleconferencing isn't a hug and a kiss, but it's the next best thing. If you want proof of its powerful impact, just watch the faces of the children when they see their parent who is in Iraq on the television screen -- it melts your heart."

"Arranging and coordinating VTCs is probably the most satisfying thing I've ever been involved in and I'm very thankful to have SDSC's assistance on this program," Bartlett continues. "For people looking for a way to support the troops, I can't think of anything more meaningful than to volunteer to assist at one of the VTCs."

For more information about this program or to request a VTC time slot, click on www.freedomcalls.org. If you would like to donate to the construction of a third video conferencing site in Taqaddum, Iraq, please contact Bartlett at bartvtc@cox.net.

About SDSC
For more than two decades, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) has enabled educational advancement and research discovery through cutting-edge computational and information technologies. SDSC is a full-service science and technology center, and provides an indispensable information technology resource to both academic and business institutions throughout the nation. SDSC enables more than 50 projects spanning astronomy to medicine to digital data management. SDSC is an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego and one of the National Science Foundation's national "Cyber-infrastructure" Centers. For more information, see www.sdsc.edu.