How Next-Gen Apps are Changing Society for the Better

Drew ClarkThe race to build ultra high-speed gigabit networks is on. From Kansas City to Chattanooga, everyone’s talking about “getting to a gig.” But what will we do with all that speed and why do we need it?

US Ignite, a non-profit organization funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is tackling this question. They’re fostering the development of next-generation applications for education, healthcare, energy and more. And they’re not just building applications for applications sake. These apps are going to provide transformative public benefit to our society.

Next week, US Ignite will convene a summit in Chicago, bringing together developers, entrepreneurs, technology companies, research universities and federal agencies to provide a first glance at these gigabit apps.

We’ll see demos on real-time emergency response systems that combine ultra-fast broadband and radar to improve hazardous weather warning and response. The project also focuses on aircraft surveillance by identifying and tracking small, low-flying aircraft by developing new detection algorithms that operate digitally on uncompressed, high-bandwidth radar data.

We’ll see a real-time audio-visual app for ambulances uses high-quality, robust data communications that let doctors interact with patients while they’re en route to the hospital. This app, called WiMed, is application aware and able to cross-layer and cross-application optimize when wireless connectivity changes due to ambulance location. 

In addition, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory is being developed right here at the University of Illinois Chicago. This interdisciplinary research lab specializes in the design and development of advanced visualizing, virtual reality and networked collaboration display system, all utilizing high-performance networking. The project is a mash up of researchers, with artists and computer scientists working together to solve real-world problems.

Click here to for a full list of applications that call for high bandwitdth connectivity. 

Illinois has been at the forefront of promoting gigabit networks, so it only makes sense that this summit is happening here in Chicago. In 2012, Governor Pat Quinn announced the first-of-its-kind Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge, prompting private and public organizations to propose innovative ways to get gigabit connectivity to at least 1,000 end users.

With $6 million in capital funding to seed the program, Quinn has already announced three recipients of the challenge: Gigabit Squared in collaboration with the University of Chicago on the City's South Side, the City of Aurora and the City of Evanston. As these networks are being built, a strategic focus should also be on the uses and applications of the gigabit and how it will help people live, work, play and learn better.

We know that high-speed internet is about more than basic internet speeds for e-mail, Skype and social networking. Broadband is about high-bandwidth capacity. It’s about immersive telepresence systems, cloud computing for advanced manufacturing and biomedical health monitoring. Many question whether a gigabit of connectivity is really necessary. At the U.S. Ignite application summit, we'll learn more about some of the programs and opportunities available with ultra high-speed capabilities that comes through gigabit connectivity.

To read more about Broadband Illinois' role in the U.S. Ignite Application Summit, visit

Under the leadership of Executive Director Drew Clark, Broadband Illinois has helped unite the Land of Lincoln around a vision of Better Broadband, Better Lives. Illinois’ State Broadband Initiative has become the national model for public-private collaboration. Broadband Illinois provides the tools that citizens, communities and businesses need to get online and to get more out of their internet use. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

Tags: chicago, Drew Clark, event, executive director message, gigabit, summit, university of illinois chicago, us ignite

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