Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

GEC12: “Jumpstarting Application Development” with US Ignite

November 4th, 2011 / in research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

(This post has been updated; please scroll down for the latest.)

The 12th GENI Engineering Conference (GEC).Nearly 300 researchers, entrepreneurs, infrastructure providers, city managers, and others from around the country are gathered in Kansas City, MO, this week for the GENI Engineering Conference (GEC) — the twelfth in a series of conferences since the GENI Project was first funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2007 to take a clean-slate approach and create a virtual laboratory for exploring future internets “at scale.” And for the first time, a key focus of the GEC is US Ignite, a new initiative by NSF and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to spark the development of gigabit applications and services; the GEC is hosting the third in a series of US Ignite Workshops.

Whereas GENI is about providing a research infrastructure for computer scientists, US Ignite is an initiative seeking to enable U.S. leadership in many areas of national priority — to include healthcare, energy, transportation, national defense, advanced manufacturing, economic development, and so on — through the development and deployment of next-generation applications. Together, GENI and US Ignite pave the way for “creating slices that run across American cities and campuses, new research … new applications, and if we’re lucky … new commercial offerings,” GENI Project Office (GPO) Director Chip Elliott said in kicking off the GEC.

US Ignite [image courtesy Mozilla].Nick Maynard, OSTP Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Policy, spoke about how US Ignite is aiming to resolve the “chicken-and-egg problem in next-generation [broadband] capacity and applications.” Limited demand for high-speed broadband from consumers and small businesses due to a lack of next-generation apps coupled with software developers continuing to engineer their apps to run over low-bandwidth broadband services are precluding a critical mass of end users from demanding higher bandwidth. Consequently, the supply of next-generation capacity has remained limited.

The hope is US Ignite will foster the creation of novel apps that have the potential to transform national priority areas by linking together ultra-high-capacity, low-latency networks of sufficient scale to support meaningful experimentation by researchers and entrepreneurs; facilitating research, experimentation, and entrepreneurship using this network of networks; and making the best application available for public benefit or commercial use through the support of US Ignite partners and funders.

And as Suzi Iacono, Senior Science Advisor for NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), stressed, “GENI and US Ignite are very complementary to one another. We would not be able to start US Ignite without GENI; GENI can be the glue to [link together] islands [of broadband], bringing in [campuses and] cities and regions.” Indeed, a key goal is to utilize GENI to engineer an advanced application testbed that links together campuses, cities, and regions from across the country “available to everyone — kids in garages, college students in dorm rooms, even grandmothers at home.”

NSF and OSTP are jumpstarting application development through two primary means:

  • The first is the more “traditional route,” as Iacono called it, with PIs being asked to pull together teams, submit proposals to NSF for peer review, and then develop applications that can be deployed across the infrastructure in short order. A key aspect of the US Ignite Workshop collocated with this week’s GEC is to mentor teams interested in this endeavor so that they may come away with the most successful proposals (and projects). Following the workshop, NSF expects to issue a call for proposals — open to everyone — and fund three to six projects as early as later this fall. Another call for proposals is likely next spring.

The ultimate goal of the GENI-US Ignite effort being described this week is to encourage researchers, entrepreneurs, infrastructure providers, city managers, and institution representatives, etc., to join forces to leverage advances in next-generation technologies and develop applications in areas of national priority — particularly those that demonstrate direct benefit to segments of society. As US Ignite participants have heard before, it’s all about working together to “live the future today.”

For more details, check out the GEC website (slides from this week’s plenaries are due to be posted there shortly) as well as the US Ignite website. And stay tuned — we’ll have more details here as they are announced.


Updated Thursday, Dec. 22, 10:30pm EST: Many of the posters presented by teams during the US Ignite Workshop mentoring session are now online. Videos of the US Ignite plenary session — and the GEC12 demos — are also available.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

GEC12: “Jumpstarting Application Development” with US Ignite