On March 18, 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a solicitation for up to $10 million for US Ignite: Networking Research and Application Prototypes Leading to Smart and Connected Communities, which funds the development of gigabit applications that can leverage existing, advanced network infrastructure. The current solicitation requests applications within two Focus Areas: 1) development of application ideas and prototypes addressing areas of national priority exploring new uses for high-speed networks and 2) fundamental research advances in networking technology and protocols that furthers gigabit networking infrastructure.
US Ignite, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was initially launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation in June 2012 to promote US leadership in the development and deployment of next-generation gigabit applications with the potential for significant societal impact. These next-generation applications include using new technologies such as software-defined networks, cloud computing, and gigabit to end users. Now a public-private partnership with commercial providers, communities and research and education networks (RENs) that can offer 100MB+ broadband networks, US Ignite has developed applications focused in six areas of national priority: Education and Workforce, Energy, Health, Public Safety Transportation, and Advanced Manufacturing.
The current solicitation seeks applications in two Focus Areas:
- Focus Area 1 encourages the development of application ideas and prototypes addressing national priority areas that explore new uses for high speed networks and give rise to Smart and Connected Communities. Focus Area 1 builds on activities explored by previous US Ignite investments.
- Focus Area 2 funds fundamental research advances in networking technology and protocol that further both capabilities and understanding of gigabit networking infrastructure to meet current and future application demands. Focus Area 2 projects should seek to propose fundamental advances in networking infrastructure that, if successful, would better enable current or future gigabit to multi-gigabit applications.
NSF expects to make 12-14 awards with up 10 to awards for Focus Area 1 proposals of up to $600,000 each for three years and up to 4 Focus Area 2 Projects of up to $1 million each for up to three years. Applications are due June 14, 2016.
An example of a successful US Ignite project is the South Carolina Connected Vehicle Testbed (SC-CVT), located along Interstate I-85 near Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. Clemson University has selected Cohda Wireless, a connected vehicle technology company, to supply its MK5 onboard and roadside unit hardware and software, for a trial of anticipated Department of Transportation mandated connected vehicle technology in the US to reduce the number of vehicle crashes and save lives through wireless technology.
Just this past year, US Ignite announced that one of its partners, Google Fiber, will provide free gigabit internet service at its first public housing property in Kansas City under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s ConnectHome initiative, designed to narrow the digital divide and accelerate broadband adoption by families in public housing. US Ignite is partnering with KC Digital Drive to develop applications which leverage the Google Fiber service in Kansas.
By 2017, US Ignite plans to create an ecosystem that will deliver 60 next-generation applications and 200 community test beds where applications can be researched, developed, tested, refined, and deployed.