NSF CRI: Collaborative Research:  WORKIT: A Universal Wireless Open Research KIT

WORKIT for seamless integrated WLAN and Wide Area cellular  networks


WORKIT for infrastructure mesh networks

The lack and need for experimental wireless tools and platforms available to the research community was a common theme in the NSF Wireless Network Workshop Report (9/03). The NSF NETS program and PROWIN, NOSS focus programs have also emphasized a strong systems focus. It is in this spirit that this proposal is made. Building upon their prior work and collaborations, Columbia Internet Research Technologies (IRT) Lab, MOMENT Lab at UCSB, the Networking Research Center at Penn State, and Bell Laboratories propose to produce a Wireless Open Research Kit (WORKIT) platform in a Community Resource Development project under the CRI program.

The produced kit will consist of a set of software tools and modules that can be used in a wide range of wireless networking systems research and education. By making the platform available to the research community, the project hopes to dramatically shorten the time to develop comprehensive system implementations of wireless related research ideas and avoid duplication of effort across the community. The availability of the kit will stimulate new ideas and research efforts that otherwise would be avoided due to complexity in building a system prototype foundation. It is expected that the kit will find applicability in many NSF funded programs and test beds. Additionally, the components of the produced kit can be used for educational courses on mobile networking as a hands-on lab tool or easy-to-use classroom supplement. The standardized kit, available as either software-only download or packaged on low-cost off-the-shelf hardware, will promote interaction across universities as well as with industrial research labs. We propose a three phase approach to deliver a comprehensive Universal Wireless Open Research Kit:

Phase I: We propose to enhance and further develop the software and systems built at Bell Labs for the IOTA (Integration of Two Access Technologies) project and package a distributable form of the technology components containing source code (under non-commercial license) and documentation. The goal of this phase is to provide a complete baseline system foundation for the diverse issues in wireless networks such as mobility management, interlayer awareness, software algorithms for best network selection, reconfiguration, security, accounting, authentication, policy download/enforcement, and hybrid wireless networking. The IOTA components provide use of multiple radios, allowing seamless handoff and transparency while roaming across 802.11 and 3G wireless networks. Additionally, the platform enables mobile 802.11 hotspots using 3G high speed wireless data backhaul links. Separation of networking layers from the underlying physical layer allows the software components to be used with other wireless radio technologies. The distributed components will consist of the IOTA mobility client software, MobileIOTA gateway, and a Backend Mobility Server, which form a set of end-to-end tools. The Phase I kit will be available to the co-PIs on the proposal within the first year.

Phase II: The second phase will demonstrate extensibility of the kit and further enhance its core capabilities leveraging the expertise of the university partners. Rather than providing a random collection of additional components, we focus on providing new essential building blocks for a wide range of wireless networking research and education. The university partners will integrate the results of their research in the areas of mesh networking, ad hoc and multimedia network monitoring, mobile access routers, and multimedia service enablers. Halfway in the second phase, the participating groups will advertise the availability of the kits to the academic community and solicit proposals to use the kit for research and education.

Phase III: The third phase will consist of dissemination of the kits and continuing support in the form of mailing lists, a web site with documentation, FAQ, message boards, and repositories for new modules added by the community. The academic partners will also focus on development and distribution of reference course materials that use the WORKIT kits. Several workshops will be sponsored for training on the use and programmability of the kit and to report on new enhancements done by the kit users. Contributions from the community can be subsumed into the kit for future distribution.

Broad Impact
We believe that the Wireless Open Research Kit will have a major impact in the wireless research community by providing a standard platform that can serve as a starting point for systems prototyping, education, and experimentation. It will stimulate new ideas and research efforts, dramatically shorten the time to develop comprehensive system implementations of research ideas and avoid duplication of research efforts. It will also provide a hands-on learning tool for the wide ranging networking aspects.

Funded by US National Science Foundation under grants

NSF Award Numbers
     0454288 (Columbia University)
 0454174 (Lucent Technologies Bell Labs),
     0454329 (University of California, Santa Barbara)
0453830 (Penn State University)