NSF Leadership in Discovery and Innovation sparks White House US Ignite Initiative

June 13th, 2012
The Global Environment for Network Innovation, or GENI, is a high speed, open, next-generation network testbed for exploring future internets on a national scale. GENI is composed of a set of components including optical substrates, forwarders, storage, process clusters, sensor fields and wireless regions combined with a software management framework. Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it will serve as the lead federal agency for a White House Initiative called US Ignite, which aims to realize the potential of fast, open, next-generation networks.

US Ignite will expand on investments in the NSF-funded Global Environment for Networking Innovation (GENI) project which lays the technical groundwork for this initiative.

"NSF is proud to be the lead agency in US Ignite," said Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation. "NSF has a proven legacy in funding the fundamental research that leads to technological advancements that spur economic development. As a result, NSF is uniquely positioned to attract our country's best creative thinkers and researchers to build, test and explore the potential of next-generation networks."

Using GENI as the thread, US Ignite will stitch together high-speed broadband resources to create a testbed across universities and cities throughout the United States at a national scale. GENI is a fast, programmable "virtual laboratory" that enables university researchers to experiment on so-called future internets.

"We've laid the groundwork for this national testbed by enabling foundational research by more than 300 researchers and 60 universities across the country to develop and prototype GENI," said Farnam Jahanian, assistant director of NSF's Directorate for Computer Information Science and Engineering. "Now, NSF will encourage the next steps for research on GENI. Experiments at-scale will transform cybersecurity, network performance, and cloud computing research, and will jumpstart applications, which have the potential for profound societal and economic impacts."

NSF is using its funding mechanism, EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) to fund four new projects just announced:

Mike Zink and his team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are demonstrating the benefits of connecting radars to ultra-high-speed networks to improve weather prediction--an application to help mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.

A team led by Marge Skubic at the University of Missouri Columbia is exploring the potential for early detection of health changes with research on unobtrusive monitoring of individuals with in-home sensors--possibly extending independent living for seniors.

Lev Gonick and his team at Case Western Reserve University are developing high-definition, multipoint videoconferencing and realizing its potential to improve healthcare delivery--enabling, for instance, seniors to consult clinicians for diagnosis and treatment, without leaving their homes.

Another team led by Henry McDonald at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga is working on a disaster response system that provides emergency staff with training and planning, as well as real-time guidance on effective strategies to protect first responders and the general public--greatly improving public safety.

"To address the breadth and diversity of private sector challenges, applications must be multi-disciplinary in nature," said Thomas M. Peterson, assistant director of NSF's Directorate for Engineering. "We have funded projects that use GENI to transform advanced manufacturing."

One advanced manufacturing project, led by George Adams at Purdue University, for instance, is developing an open innovation manufacturing network to devise new ways for customers to interact with suppliers. "This may someday transform the current supply chains into much more nimble, innovative, yet integrated systems--a recipe for greater efficiency and productivity--key ingredients to America's economic future," said Peterson.

To further attest to NSF's commitment to US Ignite, NSF has today reached out to its research and education communities in a Dear Colleague Letter, to encourage proposals for the development of novel applications that take advantage of advanced networks developed through GENI and have societal impact.

Finally, NSF has also announced an award to the Mozilla Foundation to host an open innovation challenge, called Mozilla Ignite. This challenge will invite designers, developers, university researchers, entrepreneurs and other visionaries across America to brainstorm and build next-generation applications in areas of national priority that take advantage of advanced networks. Mozilla Ignite begins with a brainstorming contest. The next phase of the challenge will focus on the deployment and experimentation of applications.

Provided by National Science Foundation

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