NSF Awards $15M for New Secure Internet Architecture

NSF Internet Security Grants

The NSF is awarding $15 million worth of grants to researchers who can implement new Internet architectures that move toward a more robust and secure Internet.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is awarding $15 million in grants for the development, deployment and testing of future Internet architectures that are designed to enhance security, respond to emerging service challenges, and increase scalability.

In 2010, the NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) launched the Future Internet Architecture (FIA) awards. The FIA consisted of four programs, each of which offered up to $8 million in grant money over three years to researchers from various institutions to pursue new ways to build a more trustworthy and robust Internet.

If that first phase of funding was a planning stage of sorts, then this second round of funding is the doing phase.

“The objective of the new awards is to move the FIA efforts from the design stage to piloted deployments that assess how the designs work at large-scale and within challenging, realistic environments,” the NSF announced in a press release. “Cities, non-profit organizations, academic institutions and industrial partners across the nation will collaborate with researchers to test the new designs.”

These will explore new communications protocols, mechanisms and applications that extend beyond current networking components. The researchers are expected to explore innovative new network designs while also addressing the need of security and reliability on the Internet.

“Our goal with FIA-NP is to support research that builds upon the tremendous success of the FIA projects to date,” said Keith Marzullo, director for the Computer and Network Systems Division at NSF. “Specifically, we are seeking to take the existing FIA designs from early prototypes to more sophisticated architectures that are tested and evaluated via advanced prototypes in one or more relevant environments.”

The $15 million will support three separate working groups: “Deployment-Driven Evaluation and Evolution of the eXpressive Internet Architecture” (XIA-NP), led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, with partners at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Duke University and Boston University; “Named Data Networking Next Phase” (NDN-NP), led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, with collaborators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, San Diego, Washington University, University of Michigan, Colorado State University, University of Memphis and University of Arizona; and “The Next-Phase MobilityFirst Project – From Architecture and Protocol Design to Advanced Services and Trial Deployments” (MobilityFirst-NP), led by Rutgers University with partners at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Duke University.

Each of these projects – developed under the first round of NSF funding – has a prototype version that has been tested in a limited capacity. Now researchers will test how these prototypes operate in real-world settings.

The foundation claims that XIA’s architecture will be tested in two network environments: a vehicular network deployment in the city of Pittsburgh and a large-scale video delivery environment. The NDN project will partner with Open mHealth, a non-profit patient-oriented health organization, and with UCLA Facilities Management, the operators of a large-scale industrial control environment. Researchers will test MobilityFirst in three trials: a mobile data services trial with 5Nines, a wireless ISP in Madison, Wi. A content production and delivery network trial with WHYY in Philadelphia. And a context-aware weather emergency notification system in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“The expectation is not that any one of these architectures will replace the Internet wholesale,” the NSF states. “Rather, the proofs of concept will show a way beyond today’s architecture that addresses current and emerging challenges, with components and aspects adopted by industry or the government.”

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