Public Release: 

Gigabit application prototypes to help cities and communities serve citizens better

NSF awards nearly $12 million to expand innovation ecosystem for next-generation Internet applications

National Science Foundation


IMAGE: These two young Chattanoogans were among the more than 2,200 who came to Chattanooga's first Mini Maker Faire to experiment with Gigabit Community Fund projects and dozens of other hands-on... view more

Credit: Katy Howard, The Company Lab

The United States lags behind most developed countries in terms of high-speed Internet availability. Though there are signs this is changing, insufficient investment in gigabit networks--those capable of 1,000 megabits per second, roughly 30 times faster than the networks commonly available today--threatens to limit U.S. leadership in Internet applications and services.

In June 2012, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with other federal agencies, announced US Ignite, an initiative seeking to promote U.S. leadership in the development and deployment of next-generation gigabit applications with the potential for significant societal impact.

Today, NSF announced nearly $12 million for US Ignite awards that build on the initiative's successes.

The 11 new awards expand US Ignite to new cities and regions, support novel application prototypes in areas of national and societal importance--such as healthcare, energy, and education and learning--and advance the goal of creating connected, digitally empowered communities.

The effort coincides with the National Smart Cities Initiative, announced today, and is part of NSF's broader commitment to support the technologies needed to foster the smart and connected communities of the future.

"NSF's experience with US Ignite over the last two years has shown that local communities and regions are sources of considerable innovation," said Jim Kurose, head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering at NSF. "With support from NSF and other public and private partners, dozens of gigabit application prototypes have been piloted, developed and launched, often in partnership with community anchor institutions such as universities, libraries and municipal service providers."

Examples of successful US Ignite-supported gigabit application prototypes include smart policing technologies pioneered in Flint, Mich.; a fitness application that recently secured venture funding; and a remote sensing system that observes the lower part of the atmosphere and enables real-time analytics allowing meteorologists to provide earlier warnings to the public about severe weather threats.

Through this latest stage of the initiative, NSF awarded two large, three-year grants totaling nearly $9 million to US Ignite, Inc.--a public-private partnership spanning over 40 cities and communities across the nation--and to the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to openness, innovation, and participation in the Internet.

These two new projects are:

Sustainable Ecosystem of Smart Applications: Glenn Ricart of US Ignite, Inc., serves as principal investigator.

Mozilla Hive in Gigabit Cities: Living Laboratories for Next-Generation Learning Applications: Christopher Lawrence and Ben Moskowitz of the Mozilla Foundation, serve as principal investigators.

These awards will support the development of testbeds in a number of U.S. cities and communities, as well as the creation of "living labs" to enable the sharing of gigabit application prototypes across community boundaries.

NSF also awarded five smaller, three-year projects, ranging from $200,000 to nearly $600,000. These awards support the development of innovative application prototypes that leverage or enhance advanced networking technologies--including software-defined networking and the ultra-high-speed Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI)--and apply them to healthcare, energy, education and learning, advanced manufacturing, and transportation.

The five new projects are:

DISTINCT: A Distributed Multi-Loop Networked System for Wide-Area Control of Large Power Grids: Yufeng Xin of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aranya Chakrabortty of North Carolina State University and Kaiqi Xiong of Rochester Institute of Technology serve as principal investigators.

Industrial Cloud Robotics across Software Defined Networks: Malathi Veeraraghavan of the University of Virginia and Andrea Fumagalli of the University of Texas, Dallas, serve as principal investigators.

Enabling Connected Vehicle Applications through Advanced Network Technology: James Martin of Clemson University serves as principal investigator.

Cloud Computing and Software-Defined Networking Enhancements to Support Collaborative, Problem-based STEM Education: Shivakumar Sastry of the University of Akron and Aniruddha Gokhale of Vanderbilt University serve as principal investigators.

Remote Management of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Patients Using Utah Telehealth Network: Christopher Butson of the University of Utah serves as principal investigator.


NSF's leadership of the US Ignite initiative will enable the U.S. academic research and non-profit communities, along with local cities and communities throughout the nation, to explore the challenges of developing and applying next-generation networking to problems of significant public interest. In doing so, they will help to create a national innovation ecosystem that will have profound, long-term social and economic impacts.

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