University, community begin development of smart gigabit applications

Posted: June 15, 2016

US Ignite announced this week the creation of a national network of Smart Gigabit Communities. Each of the fifteen communities in the network—including Urbana-Champaign—has made a significant commitment toward levering next-generation smart city and internet technologies to keep pace with the world’s rapidly changing technology and economy.

US Ignite is a nonprofit organization that fosters the development and deployment of next-generation technology applications that will profoundly impact how Americans live, work, and learn. The Smart Gigabit Communities project is funded by the National Science Foundation and private sector partners.

Each Smart Gigabit Community has committed to develop two gigabit applications or gigabit public services that provide advanced technology solutions to issues faced by that community. They also agree to share those applications with the other Smart Gigabit Communities. Gigabit applications take advantage of the 100x increase in Internet power that comes from deploying gigabit Internet access to homes, small businesses, healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, and museums.

Increasingly, cities are installing their own municipal gigabit Internet or enticing gigabit providers to upgrade their community. Locally, Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) provides high-speed internet service to homes and businesses. UC2B is a nonprofit organization that was created through a collaboration between the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign. iSchool Research Associate Professor Jon Gant is currently the chair of the governing board and plays a leading role in the organization’s development as UC2B’s senior executive officer.

UC2B and its work on this project received national recognition at the US Ignite Application Summit and Smart Cities Innovation Summit, held in Austin, Texas, on June 13-15. New grant awards to the Smart Gigabit Communities were also announced at the event.

Gant is the principal investigator and community coordinator of the local Smart Gigabit Community initiative and newly-funded collaborative project. Working with Gant is co-PI Tracy Smith, director of research IT at Illinois, and Julian (Chieh-Li) Chin (MS ’12), technical leader for the project and visiting research scientist at the iSchool.

In the coming months Chin will work closely with developers from the University and surrounding UC2B service area to build, test, and host applications that will foster transformative public benefit either directly or in support of other advanced internet applications. Smith will facilitate access to the campus research network, the gateway to key campus computing, storage, and visualization resources.

UC2B is also working to develop new partnerships with industry partners and members of the local community.