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New White House Effort Hopes to Spur Broadband Access and App Development

Image from U.S. Ignite

Washington—The White House and the National Science Foundation today announced a new technology effort to increase broadband coverage and develop apps for education, health care, public safety, energy, and manufacturing.

The effort, called U.S. Ignite, is designed to help various government departments connect with start-ups, businesses, and universities developing wireless technologies. Founding sponsors include Mozilla, Verizon, AT&T, and Cisco.

At an event at the White House to announce the project, Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said one goal is to spur student engagement in technology. “One part that is particularly important is the role of students in fostering innovation,” Mr. Kalil said. “There’s a really critical role in empowering students to develop the next generation of applications by bringing gigabit speeds and next-gen networks to the dorm room.”

Specific higher-education projects in the program include:

  • Research opportunities for students at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “Cadets at West Point are collaborating with soldiers at Afghanistan to develop new algorithms to detect improvised explosive devices,” said John P. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, during the news conference.
  • An app development contest sponsored by Mozilla. Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, emphasized that it is an opportunity for students especially—although anyone is eligible to participate—to design software for relatively new Internet technologies such as the HTML5 Web-development standard. The first round of the competition is Surgical Theater software, which creates a realistic and interactive patient model for surgeons to practice on, and an effort to build in-home sensors for health monitoring led by researchers at the University of Missouri.
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