an observatory in night sky



The Arizona State University Smart City Cloud Innovation Center Powered by AWS (ASU CIC) collaborated with the ASU University Technology Office (UTO) to explore the challenge of improving access to expensive and rare scientific equipment to benefit both researchers and equipment owners. The CIC and UTO collaborated on a Working Backwards workshop with a number of IT leaders from academic institutions in the Sun Corridor Research Network.  

The workshop envisioned a solution, the Science Instrument Reservation and Access System or (SIRAS) that would improve the ability to connect researchers to equipment and provide remote access and reservation management. There is no existing solution able to support these functions. UTO research shows that a solution like SIRAS would improve access to research equipment and make it easier for core facilities departments to manage the inventory of equipment. 


Science assets like supercomputers, special telescopes and microscopes, satellites, colliders and other large research platforms come with large price tags to build and maintain, limiting the number that exist in the world. Today the systems for accessing and using research equipment are largely obsolete and can hold up projects and lead to inefficient scheduling and use.   


SIRAS combines three elements – a software defined network (SDN) that supports network performance optimization for remote access, operation and collaboration of science assets; software resident on science instruments to support scheduling, communicate requirements, and support instrument virtualization; and self-service provisioning of science assets and networks by researchers.

Supporting Artifacts

The Amazon Working Backwards process produces three artifacts - a Press Release, a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and a Visual depiction of the user experience. You can find the artifacts here:

Next Steps

The ASU Cloud Innovation Center completed the wireframe development in 2020 working with ASU Interns, AWS Solution Architects and ASU staff. The solution was published and made available to other communities as open source information.

About the ASU CIC

The ASU Smart Cities Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is supported by AWS on ASU’s Innovation campus - SkySong. The mission of the CIC is to drive Innovation Challenges that materially benefit the greater Phoenix metro area and beyond. The CIC will do this by solving pressing community and regional challenges, using shareable and repeatable technology solutions from ideation through prototype, as a service for the greater human good.

The CIC also provides real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector. 

The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, water conservation, vandalism, pedestrian safety, digital service delivery and many others. The CIC leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.

For more information on the ASU CIC, to read about projects or to submit a challenge, please visit


multiple radio telescopes