Projects with External Partners
With the rollout of high-performance networks such as the National Broadband Network (NBN), future television services are likely to be far removed from today’s broadcast-centric services. These future services will aggregate live broadcast TV with on-demand (“catch-up”), through to user-generated and niche Internet content. In a context of such an abundance of offerings, services to help users identify content of interest will be of prime importance. In addition, services facilitating a shared viewing experience will also be prevalent. We refer to these personalised and shared viewing TV services as "Social TV". In parallel, it is recognised that the TV industry is and will continue to gradually shift from traditional over-the-air broadcast to on-demand (‘catch-up’) networked distribution models. This shift is accompanied by a significant operational cost, in terms of network bandwidth (sometimes referred to as Content Distribution Network or CDN costs).
NICTA, in the context of the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI), and in collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), is designing, developing and trialling technologies in the area of both social TV, and Content Distribution. The project consists in a research and a showcase component, complementary in their approaches. In addition, the research component leverage available and new testbeds to validate the research outcomes at scale, and with real users. The project develops user models and recommendation engines for TV content, explore the privacy implications of recommendation engines, and develop scalable content distribution systems for video-on-demand. The recommendation engine research aims to leverage inter-user interaction ('social TV interactions) to improve user models and help motivate recommendations. A large-scale user trial and is planned in Q2 2012, at the University of New England, Armidale with 2500 students. The content distribution research is based on previous work on peer-assisted on-demand streaming. A trial within 50 homes connected to NBN is planned for Q1, 2013.
Australia India Strategic Research Fund project (AISRF)
Social media applications such as online social networking, blogging, and video sharing are immensely popular, and have substantive influence on our day-to-day activities. This project is developing technologies for enabling social media sharing services for rural and remote communities with only limited or no access to broadband Internet by utilising a combination of physical media backhaul (e.g. DVDs, USB keys) and GPRS/dial-up connectivity to transfer data to villages. The focus is on delay tolerant routing algorithms, content replication and caching policies, and models for content consumption.
This is a joint project between NICTA and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, India with funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, and Research (DIISR), Australia through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) program.
The GENI Instrumentation and Measurement Infrastructure (GIMI) project will develop and deploy an instrumentation and measurement (I&M) framework, capable of supporting the needs of both GENI experimenters and GENI infrastructure operators. It uses the OMF Measurement Library (OML) and integrated Rule Oriented Data System (iRODS) as its basis. It will provide libraries to instrument resources, to filter and process measurement flows, and to consume measurement flows. It will use the iRODS data grid for archiving and further processing. It will include access control based on accepted GENI policy and authorization mechanisms.
Its first goal is to provide easy-to-use I&M services for experimenters, who are deploying slices in GENI on selected types of servers, VMs and racks, interconnected by various types of network paths. Its second goal is to provide comprehensive infrastructure measurement services for infrastructure operators, who are deploying measurement slices on selected types of servers, VMs and racks, interconnected by a various types of network paths. In addition, slices established by other infrastructure operators, or by experimenters, can be authorized to gather data from the measurement slices.
This project will build and operate two persistent services: the GENI Measurement Data Archive service (i.e., iRODs)and the GENI Experimenter Portal Service. These can be utilized by all types of GENI I&M services, including those developed in the GEMINI project. The GENI Experimenter Portal Service will be developed in cooperation with the GEMINI project, to support both GIMI and GEMINI tools. This project will use the GENI Measurement Data Object Descriptor (MDOD) schema, defined for use by all GENI I&M services. It may utilize two persistent services provided by the GEMINI project: the GENI Global I&M Registry (i.e., UNIS), and the GENI Event Messaging Service.
GIMI is a 3-year project funded by the GENI initiative part of NSF. It involves 8 partners such as, University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), NICTA, RENCI (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), and Polytechnic Institute of New-York University. More information on GIMI can be found here:
Sydney Harbour Bridge Monitoring Project
Monitoring the structural health of civil engineering structures such as bridges is a necessary process that requires many expert-hours of labour. The current process of periodic visual -or more rarely, instrumented- inspections, is an efficient way to avert catastrophic incidents, but is not adequate to address the early detection of many structural faults. Such early detection can bring great benefits by limiting repair work, taking appropriate preventative actions, and overall managing bridges more efficiently. However, early detection is too expensive for the current process of periodic inspections; hence, there is great scope for novel systems that would monitor a bridge continuously, using appropriate sensors, and automatically assessing its structural health.
There are several challenges in designing such systems: From choosing the appropriate sensors and designing an inexpensive system to be manufactured and deployed, to making sense of the multiple sensor data in order to assess structural health. NICTA is innovating in the design of such systems by using large numbers of inexpensive sensors along with commodity digital hardware to build inexpensive, distributed, all-digital sensing systems. Moreover, our smart algorithms make use of multiple sensor readings and distributed processing within the sensing system to extract useful features of structural health. A prototype deployment at the Sydney Harbour Bridge has showed the benefits of our approach and a large-scale system involving thousands of sensors is underway to be deployed in 2013.
Research into Trusted User-Centric Online Identity
NICTA, in partnership with Smartnet, is investigating how the elements of ‘identity’ (called credentials) can be established between parties to an online interaction. Recent technology developments, such as cloud computing and web services, combined with the increasing use of mobile devices, have changed the service delivery landscape for many transactions that used to be face-to-face.
This provides enormous potential for improving and customising services, saving time and cost for all parties involved and opening up significant digital productivity opportunities – particularly for governments and corporates.
The NICTA Wireless Mesh Networks team has entered a research collaboration agreement with Silicon Valley based Firetide Inc., one of the global market leaders in Wireless Mesh Networks for public safety applications. The joint research project addresses the problem of increasing interference in unlicensed frequency bands, typically used by Wireless Mesh Networks. The project team has developed an optimal channel allocation algorithm that minimises the negative impact of interference on network performance. The algorithm is currently being implemented on a commercial system, in collaboration with Firetide engineers. The project combines NICTA’s leading research expertise in wireless networking and optimisation with Firetide’s industry leading technology and experience gained from large scale deployments, and provides a direct path to market for new NICTA technology.
Further research activities related to this project are carried out under the Mesh Project (see below).
NRG Research Projects
OMF and OML testbed suite
This project is developing and deploying frameworks (OMF & OML) to control, instrument, and manage networking experimental platforms, aka testbeds. These frameworks provide a complete set of tools to design and perform reproducible experiments using large scale distributed resources from different testbeds. They also provide services to manage these resources and facilitate their sharing among federations of testbeds. Our long term objectives are to contribute to the increase of scientific rigour in networking experimental studies, to the increase of data quality and sharing within our community, and to improve the teaching of networking, all through the adoption and use of our OMF & OML frameworks on a global scale.
This activity is part of wider international initiatives. Our team is a partner in the OpenLab and FIBRE European projects (funded by EU-FP7), and in the GIMI project (funded by the US GENI-NSF).
Please visit our OMF & OML website at: http://www.mytestbed.net.
The goal of the Mesh Networks project is to develop new adaptive network protocols for Wireless Mesh Networks. In contrast to the largely one-size-fits-all approach to protocol design for current Wireless Mesh Networks., the Mesh Networks project is developing new adaptive cross-layer network protocols which can dynamically adapt key protocol parameters and mechanisms to the specific deployment scenario and network environment. Hence overcome the performance and reliability limitations of current systems. Furthermore, the project is exploring new Formal Methods based techniques for providing powerful new tools for the design and evaluation of protocols with critical assurance about protocol correctness and performance.
Smart Mobile Content Distribution project (SMCD)
One of the major challenges of content distribution in mobile environment is the limitations of the network capacity. The SMCD project is developing novel content distribution schemes to address this by exploiting the quasi predictability of the behaviour of mobile users and ‘time-shifting’ content delivery to mobile devices across mobile data networks where the cost of incremental capacity is the highest. This is done by developing methods of determining demand for content using recommendations within social networks as well as mobile device context.
In a functional, secure digital economy, people must have control over the privacy of their personal data. This is particularly true for the emerging mobile applications and services. The Trusted Networking project focuses on the fundamental challenges of designing mechanisms for safe guarding the personal information of users collected by the system or applications. The mechanism that are being developed will allow the system and the applications to use the users information to provide the functionality required without compromising their privacy, by developing methods of quantifying trust and privacy and distributing the relevant information.
Our research focus is on the use of differential privacy and secure Multi Party Computation mechanisms to ensure the privacy of user data, in computations based on user data aggregation; both in the computing process and in the final outcome.
Stronger Authentication technique is the quest for protecting the sensitive services from being accessed by the unauthorized entities. Current authentication systems exploit user’s login information, security tokens and biometrics along with the location information of the entity for authentication. This project focuses on the use of location specific information for authentication.
This is collaboration with researchers form the University of California at Davis (Professor Prasant Mohapotra).
PrivatePoll: A mobile phone app for conducting surveys that preserve user privacy
This project develops a mobile phone application that can be used for conducting large-scale surveys in such a way that each user’s response is obfuscated (in order to protect their privacy) but the aggregate distribution of the responses (i.e. the population statistic) is still obtainable with high statistical confidence. The basic technique builds upon the idea of “randomised response”, whereby users add noise of a known distribution to their answers. Our current implementation is restricted to surveys in which the users rate items on a 5-point scale (i.e. “very poor”, “poor”, “neutral”, “good” and “excellent”), and the user privacy level takes on one of four values: “none”, “low”, medium” or “high”. Future extensions will consider more general scenarios. We have developed a first prototype of the application for the iPhone, and used it to conduct a survey with over 130 University students. Our preliminary results show that users feel comfortable that the platform protects their privacy, while the aggregate data is meaningful and corroborates well with known measures. Further analysis of the collected data is being undertaken to reveal more insights, and the application is being extended to include more varied types of surveys.
Cellular data networks are increasingly being used for Internet access. Various analysts suggest that the number of mobile Internet users will soon surpass the number of conventional fixed-line Internet users. No doubt, understanding the quality of Internet connectivity provided by currently deployed cellular data networks is important for all stakeholders including the users, operators, and policy planners. Towards facilitating the aforementioned, we have developed smartphone applications for both Android and iOS platforms that can perform a range of network measurements and diagnostics such as upload/download bandwidths, latency to landmarks, DNS resolution times, and identification of NATs. Widespread use of our application will enable "crowdsourcing" wherein measurements from different users and networks can be studied and compared. For example, crowdsourcing allows a user to compare his or her average upload/download bandwidth with that of other users using the same operator, and also with those achieved by users of other competing operators. We believe the data available from use of our application will provide valuable insights on the state of today's cellular data networks.