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UC San Diego among 16 U.S. Teams Selected to Accelerate 5G Solutions

Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis at the San Diego Supercomputer Center included in $12 Million NSF Investment

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The National Science Foundation is accelerating 5G solutions to assist the U.S. government and critical infrastructure operators with secure, anywhere-anytime communications.

Partnering with the Department of Defense Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, or DOD OUSD(R&E), on an investment of $12 million, the NSF has selected 16 multidisciplinary teams for the Convergence Accelerator program 2022 cohort, Phase 1 program aligned to research topic — Track G: Securely Operating Through 5G Infrastructure.  

Among the 16 teams awarded funding are researchers at the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego. Their project, 5G Traffic Sovereignty: Operating Through an Adversarial Internet, will be led by Principal Investigator and Research Scientist Alexander Marder, as well as Co-Principal Investigators and Research Scientists Kimberly (kc) Claffy and Ka Pui Mok.

“Our project aims to build on work here at CAIDA to provide DOD with unprecedented control over their communications with 5G devices around the world, and ensure those communications do not fall under the control of highly sophisticated adversaries,” Marder said.

The overall goal of Track G includes enhancing end devices and augmenting 5G infrastructure, providing capabilities to military, government and critical infrastructure operators to operate through public 5G networks while meeting security and resilience requirements.

Track G builds upon DOD's 5G Initiative Operate Through to assess and mitigate 5G vulnerabilities, inform 5G standards and policies through rigorous research and promote technology development to advance 5G communications for the U.S. military and federal government.

“The program is structured to leverage the expertise and practical use cases of stakeholders not just in the DoD, but across the landscape of critical infrastructure that we all depend on,” said Claffy, CAIDA’s director. “It’s an ideal opportunity to accelerate technology transfer of our work into real-world deployment.”

“5G wireless networks are crucial components of the modern communication system and a key aspect of how we operate,” said Amanda Toman, acting principal director for 5G at DOD OUSD (R&E). “We must have viable solutions to support the military and federal government’s missions. The department is excited to partner with NSF and its Convergence Accelerator to accelerate the development of 5G technologies for our systems and those of our allies and partners.” 

Over the next nine months, each of the teams will work to develop their initial idea into a proof of concept, identify new team members and partners, and participate in the unique Convergence Accelerator innovation curriculum, which includes fundamentals in human-centered design; team science; use-inspired research; early-stage prototyping; and communications, storytelling and pitching. At the end of Phase 1, the teams will participate in a formal Phase 2 proposal and pitch. The oral pitch and formal proposal will be used in selecting teams for Phase 2—a 24-month solution and sustainability development phase. 

"This is the NSF Convergence Accelerator's fourth cohort, and we are pleased to be partnering with DOD on this important topic," said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator. "The NSF Convergence Accelerator is focused on solving some of the hardest national and societal challenges—designed to provide a positive societal and economic impact—and while this is our program's focus, we are thrilled to expand the program's model and fundamentals to address this national security challenge and to support the DOD’s 5G mission."

Launched in 2019, the Convergence Accelerator’s Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) directorate builds upon NSF's investment in basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions toward societal and economic impact. Convergence Accelerator multidisciplinary teams use convergence research fundamentals and innovation processes to stimulate innovative idea-sharing and development of sustainable solutions.

More information about the Convergence Accelerator program is available at: https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/initiatives/convergence-accelerator.

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