The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long been a leader in supporting research that has formed the basis for smart and connected communities, pushing sensor and networking capabilities beyond today’s Internet of Things (IoT) to next-generation technologies able to revolutionize our lives in smart communities across the nation.
This week, hundreds of researchers, community leaders and innovators will converge at the 2017 Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo, co-located with the fifth annual US Ignite Application Summit, in Austin, Texas. The events will bring together NSF-funded researchers, technology leaders and community stakeholders to spur innovative technologies and services for communities across the U.S.
“NSF is working to foster deep and meaningful collaborations between academic researchers and community stakeholders, with the goal of connecting scientific and technological advances with local communities to address the challenges that these communities are facing,” said Erwin Gianchandani, deputy assistant director for NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. “Working together, our efforts can help to improve the functions of communities across the nation and, importantly, enhance individuals’ quality of life.”
The expo will feature more than 30 live demonstrations of advanced network applications that are impacting local communities throughout the country. Many of these demonstrations are part of the Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) project, which NSF funded in 2015 with a three-year, $6 million grant to US Ignite, Inc.
Today, SGC is a network of more than 19 local communities working with researchers to extend gigabit solutions (solutions that utilize ultra-high speed networking) toward municipal challenges and residents’ needs. Researchers spanning a range of disciplines — computer and information sciences, engineering, social and behavioral sciences, geosciences and education — teamed up with community stakeholders. Together, they worked to identify and pursue solutions that advance economic development, education and learning, energy, environmental quality, health and wellness, public safety, transportation and many other areas.
Expo demonstrations will display a range of advanced applications. For example, real-time, 3-D virtual reality is being used to deepen students’ knowledge of a particular subject by connecting them with educators, experts and far-off places. Another demonstration shows how the gigabit speed network in Kansas City connects personal computers to enable supercomputing capabilities that power searches to accelerate cancer-focused research.
New to this year’s event is a Researcher Summit for smart and connected communities. With NSF support, researchers, students and community stakeholders will convene on the first day of the conference to share findings and explore opportunities for future collaborations. In addition to research presentations, MetroLab Network, Mozilla Foundation and US Ignite, Inc. will share community engagement and municipality partnership models to enhance the impact of research in local communities.