US Ignite Announces Two New Funding Opportunities

Good luck – deadline is January 21, 2015

US Ignite is an Administration initiative seeking to promote US leadership in the development and deployment of next-generation gigabit applications with the potential for significant societal impact. The primary goal of US Ignite is to break a fundamental deadlock: there is insufficient investment in gigabit applications that can take advantage of advanced network infrastructure because such infrastructure is rare and dispersed. And conversely, there is a lack of broad availability of advanced broadband infrastructure for open experimentation and innovation because there are few advanced applications and services to justify it. US Ignite aims to break this deadlock by providing incentives for imagining, prototyping, and developing public sector gigabit applications, and by leveraging and extending this network testbed across US college/university campuses and cities.

This solicitation builds on the experience gained from initial US Ignite activities to further engage the US academic research and non-profit communities along with local cities, municipalities, and regions in exploring the challenges of developing and applying next-generation networking to problems of significant public interest and benefit. In particular, this solicitation has two tracks: the first encourages the development of applications in national priority areas that explore new uses for networks, giving rise to novel networking and application paradigms; and the second expands and enhances the ecosystems in which these applications will evolve and be evaluated.

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant or Continuing Grant or Cooperative Agreement

Estimated Number of Awards: 6 to 10

Subject to the availability of funds, NSF expects to award up to eight Track 1 projects and up to two Track 2 projects.

Track 1 proposals may request up to $600,000 for up to three years. Track 2 proposals may request up to $6,000,000 for up to three years.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $10,000,000

Up to $10 million to support both Track 1 and Track 2 projects. The number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.


Track 1: US Ignite Applications: Moving Novel Gigabit Applications into Practice

In Track 1 of this solicitation, we seek proposals for innovative applications that leverage or enhance advanced networking technologies (i.e., gigabit throughput, software-defined networking, advanced wireless), and that address national priority areas. Thus, a US Ignite project responsive to this track must accomplish each of the following:
a.Pursue a public sector application in one or more areas of national priority to include: advanced manufacturing, education and workforce, energy, transportation, healthcare, and public safety/emergency preparedness.

b.Leverage or enhance one or more advanced networking technologies such as gigabit throughput, software-defined networks, or advanced wireless. NSF anticipates that the combination of novel applications and advanced networking will inform one or more research questions in the domains of networking, networked systems, or networked applications, which will in turn inform and improve our understanding of how to design, deploy, manage, support, or use advanced networking capabilities. Proposals should link the implementation of the application to the exploration and assessment of any identified research question(s).

c.Identify one or more anchor institution(s) (e.g., a school, campus, health care facility, public safety entity, library, museum, or city), and demonstrate, and perform early evaluations of, the application in the context of the chosen anchor institution(s) in order to maximize the ability to transition the application to practice and widespread adoption.

Track 2: Igniting a National Ecosystem: Scaling Up Smart and Connected Cities and Regions

Experience with US Ignite over the last two years has shown that local communities and regions are sources of considerable innovation. In Track 2 of this solicitation, we seek to continue and expand the involvement of local communities and regions in furthering this innovation. Specifically, we seek proposals that facilitate the involvement of citizens and community organizations in building and experimenting with multiple advanced networking applications addressing national priorities. Furthermore, we seek proposals that support mechanisms and processes needed to share and scale up innovations by transferring applications that have been shown to be useful in one US Ignite city/region to other US Ignite cities/regions. As part of this effort, we encourage interoperability and common solutions in data infrastructure. A key goal of Track 2 is to support mechanisms that will enable cities and regions to develop a smart and connected national ecosystem supporting applications of advanced networking such as those developed in Track 1.
I.Community building: NSF seeks proposals that will build communities of practice, “Living Labs,” in multiple cities and regions with potential sharing of gigabit applications, i.e., especially applications that are “smart” and can sense and act, among cities and regions. Proposals addressing this topic area must describe:
a.The people and organizational infrastructures needed to identify user needs; mentor developers within the community; identify anchor institutions that commit to experiment with new applications, especially applications that have the potential to be “smart”; and deploy, integrate and evaluate those applications in the community/regional context.
b.Mechanisms such as prizes, competitions, etc., that will be used to excite, encourage and support early engagement of community participants.
c.The number of cities/regions supported with a rationale for the number, the reasons for choosing the target cities/regions, and the process by which the target cities/regions have been chosen (or will be chosen in the future).
d.Mechanisms for transferring successful innovations from one city/region to another. Specifically, the processes for identifying candidate applications; matching applications to potential new cities/regions; and transferring technical and social learnings from the originating city to the new city(ies)/region(s) should be articulated.
e.The methods and metrics that will be used to evaluate the project effectiveness.
f.The methods and processes for understanding and documenting the successes and failures of the various community building practices.
g.Project planning information in sufficient detail to allow the budget to be assessed relative to the work proposed.

II.Building multi-city/region testbeds/“Living Labs”: NSF seeks proposals that will build communications links between, and computational infrastructure in support of, multi-city/region testbeds and “Living Labs.” Community-wide instillation of fiber or other networking technology is out of scope for this solicitation and will not be supported. Rather, the intent of this topic area is to support the connection of existing high-speed community networks to advanced services provided by regional or national Research and Engineering (R&E) networks, and to provide community computation resources, such as GENI racks, in support of rapid deployment and trials of new smart gigabit applications. Proposals addressing this topic area should describe:
a.The architecture of the multi-city/region testbed.
b.The rationale for testbed size in terms of the diversity and number of cities/regions. In particular, what will be learned from this diversity and the point at which increasing the number of cities/regions yields diminishing returns should be articulated.
c.How candidate cities/regions will be identified, along with the metrics and processes for choosing them.
d.The social and engineering processes needed to build the testbed.
e.If resources such as GENI racks are included the mechanisms and associated costs of installing and supporting their operation.
f.The operational processes and staffing needed to keep the testbed running.
g.How the project will document the successes and failures, facilitate future efforts, and share successful applications within the proposed multi-city/region testbed.
h.How the project will clearly tie the requested funding to bullets (a) through (g).
i.The support of one or more of the candidate cities/regions, as demonstrated via letters of collaboration.

Get full details online.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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