Collaborative Research: SAI-P: Public Multi-Access Edge Cloud (pMEC) as a Community-Based Distributed Computing Infrastructure for Emerging Real-Time Applications

Project Details


Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI) is an NSF Program seeking to stimulate human-centered fundamental and potentially transformative research that strengthens America’s infrastructure. Effective infrastructure provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitality and broad quality of life improvement. Strong, reliable, and effective infrastructure spurs private-sector innovation, grows the economy, creates jobs, makes public-sector service provision more efficient, strengthens communities, promotes equal opportunity, protects the natural environment, enhances national security, and fuels American leadership. To achieve these goals requires expertise from across the science and engineering disciplines. SAI focuses on how knowledge of human reasoning and decision-making, governance, and social and cultural processes enables the building and maintenance of effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.Information technology infrastructure enables a wide variety of applications that serve almost every facet of contemporary life. Cloud services (mass storage and high-end computing power) are now commonly used as networks have become faster and more widespread. The introduction of even higher-speed wired and wireless (5G) access is pushing the boundary of cloud computing even farther. Commercial mobile network operators are now investing in multi-access edge cloud (MEC) technology, in which individuals and small enterprises support a self-organizing nexus of shared computing resources in a way that overcomes some of the limitations of long distance fiber. If the deployment of MEC platforms is left entirely to private investment by large service providers, it is likely that many people will not be served or served only by a single provider, leaving many end-users and communities without access or with access to services that are too expensive or otherwise fail to meet their quality-of-service needs. This SAI planning project develops the concept of an open collaborative public multi-access edge cloud (pMEC). The public edge cloud is designed to self-organize through voluntary contributions of under-utilized computing power within the community. A public edge cloud infrastructure makes it possible for users in under-served communities to access massive, close-in computing power without depending on the expensive services of large network operators. By broadening access to the internet and computing infrastructure of the United States, a public edge cloud capability promotes and sustains the nation’s competitive advantages in the global economy.Design of the public edge cloud infrastructure requires a multi-disciplinary effort in which technology development is informed by business models and by cost and performance properties that promote end-user adoption. This SAI planning project focuses on technology considerations for the pMEC along with viable economic and business models with end-user adoption properties necessary to enable and sustain widespread deployment. The project develops preliminary architectural level designs for distributed public edge cloud deployments, identifying necessary enhancements to the emerging technical standards for 5G and cloud. It also develops plans for incentive-compatible business and cooperative governance models for the proposed community edge cloud to motivate initial deployment and sustainable operations. A small proof-of-concept prototype demonstrates the basic pMEC concept. Collaborations are developed to evaluate stakeholder behavioral responses regarding willingness to adopt and participate in proposed pMEC deployments. Delivering on the promise of public edge cloud infrastructure depends on growing multi-disciplinary collaborative research drawing on social, behavioral, and economic sciences in partnership with computer science and engineering.This award is supported by the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences and the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE).This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/15/228/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $60,000.00


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