High-Speed Rail and CENIC join forces to create California Broadband Communities November 11, 2016

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) and the Corporation for Education Networking Initiatives in California (CENIC) has announced that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that will foster initiatives to expand the availability and accessibility of high-capacity broadband to communities and institutions throughout California.

As a part of the high-speed rail system corridor, the Authority and CENIC will create an ultra-fast broadband network, connecting into CENIC’s statewide research and education network, as well as to other public and private sector broadband networks.

“This new network will provide needed connectivity for communities located near the high-speed rail system starting in the Central Valley,” said Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales.  “This partnership and new network will advance economic development and public benefit while generating ancillary revenue for the high-speed rail program,” said Morales.

According to a recent Field Research Corporation Poll, conducted for the California Emerging Technology Fund, the lowest income, least educated, and most rural Californians are living without this reliable internet access. This investment in broadband connectivity will allow these communities access the educational, employment, healthcare, and civic engagement opportunities that lead to greater economic opportunities and to a better quality of life.

The Authority and CENIC agree that to achieve these objectives; they will work together to develop a strategic plan that will include network design, deployment, economics, operation, and management.   Furthermore, the Authority and CENIC will engage parties from private, public, and governmental sectors in the planning process to effectively serve this diverse region.

“This strategic undertaking of the High-Speed Rail Program and CENIC is critical to California’s continued advancement in all realms of innovation,” said Louis Fox, President, and CEO of CENIC. “Our future relies on the engagement of all Californians in the digital economy and this project will provide them with the necessary infrastructure that positions California for a prosperous future.”

A link to this Memorandum of Understanding can be found here.

MCNC works to extend federated trust and identity solutions to K-12, Community Colleges in North Carolina November 04, 2016

The non-profit organization explored the real driving force behind the technology on the North Carolina Research and Education Network this week during NCREN Community Day

MCNC, the non-profit operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), today announced a first-in-the-nation, proof of concept to extend InCommon Federated Identity Management (FIM) technologies from universities to now include K-12 education and community colleges in North Carolina  – giving participating institutions the ability to use a secure credential to safely access a wide array of online educational resources.

The details of the project were revealed this week during NCREN Community Day 2016 on Thursday and Friday (Nov. 3-4) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Raleigh Brownstone-University.

MCNC’s mission is to advance education, research, health care, public safety, and the overall levels of broadband connectivity available in North Carolina by providing a world-class network necessary for innovation, collaboration and economic development. More than 200 top education, government, and technology executives from North Carolina and beyond participated in discussions around this year’s theme: Network. Teamwork. Make Ideas Work.

In 2013, education and technology leaders in eight states began collaborating with InCommon (a service of Internet2) to extend advanced trust and identity solutions used at the nation’s top universities to K-12 and community college students, faculty and staff as part of a set of pilots. Over time, those pilots evolved to build the InCommon Steward Program, which is currently a proof of concept happening only in North Carolina in partnership with MCNC.

Ann West, Associate Vice President for Trust and Identity at Internet2, explained that the InCommon Steward Program extends the benefits of federated identity management to K-12 school districts and community colleges with a Steward (a state or regional network, in this case MCNC in North Carolina) who sets up and manages the organizational trust, relationship management and support, and InCommon providing the national trust infrastructure and operational experience.

“Trying to extend InCommon to all of K-14 education nationally would be too large to scale. We knew we had to work with our regional network partners that have these key relationships built in. InCommon puts the trust in trusted networks, and we’re so grateful that MCNC is collaborating with us on a workable solution that benefits both education and the regionals,” she said. “And, this work is generating a lot of interest from other states who are watching this very closely.”

MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson added that FIM technologies for K-12 education and community colleges will have an important role in North Carolina’s future.

“This is the right direction for North Carolina and other states, and it’s achievable by scaling statewide networks like NCREN,” added Johnson. “North Carolina could be the first state to successfully leverage a regional network and the existing InCommon infrastructure to create new possibilities with efficient, cost-effective and secure FIM technologies.”

MCNC also announced recipients of this year’s NCREN Community Awards.

The Robyn Render Endeavor Award was presented to Alfred Mays, Program Officer for Science Education and Diversity at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This recognition honors a devoted North Carolina leader who understood how technology could grow educational opportunity for all citizens and is annually presented to one or more persons who continually champion leadership, engagement, and support of MCNC’s overarching mission and goals for North Carolina.

The Empower Award was presented to Maurice Ferrell, assistant director at UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology. When NCREN experienced considerable growth in 2008, the organization introduced the Empower Award to recognize individuals who were not long-time members of the NCREN Community but made an immediate impact upon engagement.

Finally, Candace Holder, Vice President and CIO of Technology Services at Surry Community College, was selected by her peers for the Community Choice Award. This award engages the NCREN membership from beginning to end, with input on nominees and recipients determined by the online voting.

NCREN Community Day 2016 was sponsored by: Zettabye Sponsor: Cisco Systems; Gigabyte Sponsors: Arbor Networks, CenturyLink, Conterra, Time Warner Cable Business Class; Megabyte Sponsors: AT&T, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, MediaSite by Sonic Foundry, SonicWALL, Zscaler; and Door Prize Sponsors: BalsamWest, ECC Technologies, Financial Directions Group, Identity Automation, NWN Corporation, Presidio, Smith Anderson, and Womble Carlyle.

Discovering change through Smart & Connected Communities November 01, 2016

The Quilt, Internet2 and U.S. Ignite hosted a webinar on the NSF Smart & Connected Communities Program Solicitation 16-610 on Monday, Oct. 31.

As cities and communities in the U.S. and around the world enter a new era of change, they are increasingly connected by smart technologies, which lead to new opportunities for innovation, improved services and enhanced quality of life.

The goal of this Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) solicitation is to support interdisciplinary, integrative research and research capacity-building activities that will improve the understanding of smart and connected communities leading to discoveries that enable sustainable change to enhance community functioning.

The exciting aspect of this solicitation is that it crosses the multidisciplinary programs within the NSF by leveraging the opportunities between Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Education and Human Resources, Engineering, Geosciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences all to support, foster, and accelerate fundamental research and education that addresses challenges in enabling Smart and Connected Communities.

It also aligns with the National Smart Cities Initiative and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report on Technology and the Future of Cities.

Successful proposals will reflect integrative, multidisciplinary research, tangible research capacity-building, and meaningful community engagement, the nature of which will vary by the proposal category.

The number of awards in each category will depend on the overall mix of proposals and the degree to which they meet the solicitation goals as well as Merit Review Criteria and Solicitation Specific Review Criteria.

The estimated number and type of Awards is approximately 18 to 29 Standard Grants or Continuing Grants with the funding amount anticipated at $18.5 million (subject to the quality of proposals received and availability of funds).

This is the direct link to Monday’s webinar.

FAQs for NSF 16-610, S&CC are available here.