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SALT LAKE CITY — The White House announced recently the launch of a new initiative, dubbed U.S. Ignite, that aims to discover the future of the Internet — with the University of Utah playing a leading role.
The initiative, launched June 13, aims to realize the potential of next- generation networks. By "stitching together" high-speed broadband resources, researchers will create a test bed across universities and cities throughout the United States, allowing them to experiment on so-called "future internets."
The U. is one of 60 universities nationwide that, along with more than 300 researchers, will be using GENI — the Global Environment for Networking Innovation — to lay the groundwork for the project.
GENI is a "fast, programmable ‘virtual laboratory,'" that allows researchers to experiment with future internets, according to the National Science Foundation.
Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor in the university's school of computing, is leading a team of researchers that is laying "foundational work instrumental in establishing this national research and education network for exploring future internets at scale," the school said.
The primary goal of the project is to improve services in six areas, according to the White House: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety and clean energy.
The U. is working with the Utah Education Network to deploy new software that it hopes will improve the network that connects Utah's universities and K12 school districts.
Other universities nationwide are studying the benefits of connecting radars to ultra-high-speed networks to improve weather prediction, the potential for early detection of health changes by monitoring individuals with in-home sensors, and improved disaster response systems.
"Imagine building services similar to emergency 911 and the emergency broadcast system into the Internet, and giving people on the scene of an accident a way of providing high quality videos to first responders, before they even arrive," Ricci said.
"A new telemedicine practice could be established, which would enable patients to consult with their doctors without going into the doctor's office," he continued. "This could include high-quality, real-time data from health sensors, like a heartbeat or blood pressure monitors."
Universities are also looking into devising new ways for customers to interact with suppliers, and developing high-definition, multipoint videoconferencing.
"To address the breadth and diversity of private sector challenges, applications must be multidisciplinary in nature," said the National Science Foundation's Thomas M. Peterson.
Along with participating in the initiative, the U. is also a major player in building the test beds being used by GENI, and the school's Emulab software is one of the "primary building blocks" of the GENI project.