Celebrating One Year of Gigabit Innovation in Learning, and Looking Ahead

Chris Lawrence

When individuals around the globe are able to make, create, and share online at lightning speed, the open internet becomes an even more powerful tool for learning.

This month, we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of our commitment to a lightning-fast, next generation internet. Last year, Mozilla — alongside the National Science Foundation and US Ignite — launched the Gigabit Community Fund to invest in gigabit technology across the U.S. The $300,000 fund brought programming to Chattanooga, TN and Kansas City, MO, two gigabit-enabled cities where internet access is about 250 times faster than the internet most of us use each day. And the results have been tremendous: Educators, students, and innovators have reinvented classrooms and learning, and created exceptional opportunities.

A Gigabit Community Fund event in Chattanooga, TN. Photo by Jason Oswald

A Gigabit Community Fund event in Chattanooga, TN. Photo by Jason Oswald

In the past year, the Gigabit Community Fund has supported 17 outstanding projects and worked alongside more than 35 local organizations.

In Kansas City, the Fund has enabled high school students in robotics clubs to build Gigabots, internet-enabled robots able to communicate and sing. It has funded Augmented Responder, a specialized system that equips first responders with Google Glass during training exercises. And it has supported the 3D Multi-School Learning initiative, which teaches computer programming and video game design through telepresence technology.

In Chattanooga, the Fund has allowed high school science students to construct a real-time water quality monitoring system known as the Wireless Earth Watchdogs project. It has also given way to Adagio, an app that makes remote audio mixing simple, and devLearn, a mobile coding app for elementary school students.

These successes illustrate why we’re so fiercely committed to supporting gigabit innovation: It can transform cities and schools into learning laboratories and innovation hubs, and give way to powerful new apps and projects. From March 23 to March 27, we’ll be showcasing these successes at the Beyond Today’s Internet: Experiencing a Smart Future event held in Washington, DC and hosted by US Ignite and Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI).

The forum will spotlight what’s possible with next-generation cyberinfrastructure through keynotes, panels, and tutorials. There will also be a range of demos: Attendees can experience amazing gigabit-enabled projects, from tools that predict storm landfalls in North Carolina to systems that grant automobiles in Detroit improved sensing and control. The event will also be forward looking, and allow city leaders, app innovators, and engineers to chart an ambitious course for the future of gigabit connectivity and programming. Experts will discuss how gigabit cyberinfrastructure can further transform the way we work, live, learn, and play.

In the months and years ahead, Mozilla will continue advocating for gigabit infrastructure and supporting innovation across the country. Community-driven innovation must be open to all. If it’s not, we won’t unlock the full power of next-generation infrastructure to advance areas of national priority, like education.

We’re proud to support innovators in gigabit cities, whether they’re enabling specially-trained first responders, singing robots, cleaner water, or tech-savvy elementary school students. This month’s conference is the next step in exponentially increasing the internet’s ability to teach and empower.

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