The National Science Foundation (NSF) and an industry consortium have selected New York City and Salt Lake City as the first of four cities to benefit from $100 million in funding over the next seven years.
New York City and Salt Lake City are to become testbeds for an experimental rollout of next-generation connected technology, via an “outdoor laboratory” known as COSMOS.
A new programme, known as the NSF Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR), will help realise the potential of emergent mobile technologies, such as 5G, to enable new applications in robotics, AR navigation, smart city control, and connected vehicles.
With mobile technology bitrates having increased fourfold over the last 20 years, the opportunities for edge computing innovation in the sector are huge. The research is spearheaded by representatives from Rutgers, Columbia, and NYU, in partnership with Silicon Harlem, City College of New York, and the University of Arizona.
In New York City, the COSMOS testbed will cover a square mile in the west of Harlem. It is designed to enable researchers to explore the technology sweet-spot of ultra-high bandwidth and low latency, turning the area into a tech and innovation hub.
To the south of the Manhattanville area of Harlem is Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus. Its spread of academic and residential buildings, linked by dark fibre optic cabling, offers an ideal testbed for the COSMOS programme. The university will also link its public safety vehicles, trucks, and shuttles to the network.
What PAWR is doing for mobile innovation
A Columbia Engineering announcement explains the motivation behind the move:
By 2020, the number of Internet-connected devices is expected to grow to 20 billion, creating an urgent need in the US and abroad for infrastructure that can rapidly process all that data. To improve networking speeds, the New York City COSMOS network will tap previously unused radio spectrum bands and integrate optical fibres underground with radio antennas and other equipment on city rooftops and light poles.
Speeds of over one gigabit per second and response times of a few milliseconds mean that the network offers ten times the performance of existing infrastructures.
“COSMOS is an outdoor laboratory that will allow us to test entirely new classes of wireless applications, such as smart intersections that can process massive data in real-time,” said principal investigator Dipankar Raychaudhuri, an engineering professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and director of its Wireless Information Network Laboratory.
The tech behind COSMOS
The first set of platforms is expected to be ready for use by late 2019 or early 2020. According to Columbia Engineering, they will be built on the following core technologies:
mm-Wave Radio Bands: The use of new millimeter-wave bands, from 20 GHz to 200 GHz, will enable more capacity from the radio spectrum. While mmWave signals don’t travel far, researchers will use the network to test new radio and antenna designs and techniques for aiming radio waves directly at mobile devices, to help overcome this.
Software-Defined Radios: Using software to process signals, rather than hardware, increases network flexibility and allows researchers to experiment with a wide range of frequency bands. Researchers will test new algorithms to support mmWave and the flexible use of frequencies across various bands (dynamic spectrum access).
Edge Cloud: Data-processing will be based on servers integrated into the wireless access network, rather than cloud-based data centres, reducing processing time.
Advanced Optical Networking: A fast front-haul network with high bandwidth and low-delay connectivity will link computing clusters and the wireless access network to enable an effective edge-cloud infrastructure.
Internet of Business says
With the use of wireless-connected devices almost doubling in the US over the last decade, the demand for a supporting infrastructure to match in the nation’s cities has only grown.
4G LTE is no longer sufficient for data-intense smart city technologies. PAWR will help to eke a little more out of fourth generation wireless, but it’s likely geared to future 5G deployments. 2018 has seen a raft of new 5G announcements.
The participating cities certainly stand to benefit from building their wireless capabilities via this combination of creative university partnerships, government and corporate research funding, attracting local tech jobs, and using advanced wireless capabilities to enhance both local services and economic development.
By getting the COSMOS infrastructure in place, New York and Salt Lake City are offering up a glimpse of future smart cities to entice researchers and tech companies to move to those cities.