The series of tubes that make up the Internet are getting bigger. Tomorrow President Obama will sign an executive order at the White House speeding the way for laying new cable, for example, by letting companies install broadband during highway construction work, which can lower the cost of installation up to 90%. At the same time, new applications of distributed cloud computing, virtualized networks that use software to simplify the flow of information, and symmetrical gigabit bandwidth connections all the way to your laptop, taken together, have the potential to reach speeds up to 250 times faster than today’s Internet.
But what will we do with all that Internet? White House CTO Todd Park announced today that the National Science Foundation, which built the $40 million Global Environment for Network Innovations, “GENI,” a prototype ultrafast broadband sandbox for developers, is sponsoring the US Ignite competition in partnership with Mozilla, Juniper, Cisco, Verizon, Comcast, and several other companies.
The goal of US Ignite is to get people in 25 cities to build at least 60 new applications in strategic areas–health care, education, clean energy, manufacturing, transportation, and security–all taking advantage of what these Speedy Gonzales networks can do. High-quality, uncompressed video could allow doctors to perform remote diagnoses, local networks could improve collaboration in classrooms, and big-data crunching could help Tallahassee, FL predict the next hurricane and move people to safety faster. “We’re hoping it will make developers drool,” says Matt Thompson, community manager for Mozilla, which will take the lead in coordinating hackathons and other events around the open innovation challenge.