UCLA Tapped as Partner in White House’s New Ultra-fast Broadband Network Initiative

Jun 29, 2012

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Campus uniquely poised to provide networked data solutions that benefit society

By Wileen Wong Kromhout and Claudia Luther

UCLA computer scientists at the vanguard of the broadband revolution will soon be lending their expertise to the White House as part of a nationwide initiative aimed at spurring the development of new tools and applications for computer networks that can run 100 times faster than today’s Internet.

The campus is one of a handful of major universities selected to participate in the US Ignite public–private partnership, which will focus on improving the areas of health care, public safety, clean energy, transportation, education and job-skills training, and advanced manufacturing through the creation of a national network of campuses and communities with ultra-fast programmable broadband services.

Researchers from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science with support from the UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) and UCLA Information Technology Services, will establish a next-generation network test-bed on campus to explore novel applications in a variety of areas, from traffic congestion, to smart manufacturing, to health care monitoring.

“This nationwide project will transform the way in which we receive health care, manufacture goods, educate our children, keep our communities safe and much more,” said Mario Gerla, a UCLA Engineering computer science professor, who will lead the UCLA test-bed with adjunct computer science professor Giovanni Pau. “Our work will touch on many aspects of the country’s priorities. We are proud to be a part of US Ignite.”

Improvements in high-performance computing and the ability to process, transfer and store massive amounts of data are essential to the success of the US Ignite, said Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency on the initiative. The US Ignite research will build on the successes of the NSF’s Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI), a nationwide broadband experimentation infrastructure established five years ago.

Among the biggest challenges, said UCLA Vice Provost of Information Technology Jim Davis, will be deploying programmable networks and connecting them to real-time information. But because of UCLA’s breadth of activity and leadership in data-oriented research addressing both state and national priorities, he said, the campus is uniquely poised to take advantage of new network management technologies to not only enable, but propel, the development of new “big-data” solutions.

“At UCLA, the convergence of a wireless revolution, unprecedented computational capabilities and the ability to do previously unimaginable data analysis is driving significant demands for networking and information-sharing to bring these together to solve new problems,” Davis said.

UCLA’s Gerla, Pau and the IDRE will be tackling those problems on a variety of fronts. The applications they develop, they say, could lead to reductions in urban traffic and air pollution; more powerful safety, navigation and information tools for vehicles; more cost-effective and reliable medical monitoring of patients; more efficient decoding of genetic characteristics to treat major diseases; and improvements to the economics, sustainability, environmental impact and safety of smart manufacturing operations.

With US Ignite, Gerla said, the U.S. is undertaking “an urgent initiative, one that will promote it as a leader in the development of applications and services for super-fast networks.”

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