Created in 2000, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology – known as CALIT2 – is one of four Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation located on University of California campuses. The founding objective of CALIT2 was to create a world-class multidisciplinary research institute to promote discovery and innovation, notably to harness the ubiquity and scale of the internet and wireless technologies to accelerate growth in many different scientific areas and industries that are undergoing a massive transformation. Over two decades, CALIT2 has focused on transdisciplinary approaches of significant scale and complexity, as well as the creation of new, advanced scientific facilities, technical staff opportunities, and centers and ‘living laboratories’ to attract and support the nearly 250 UCI faculty who have opted to affiliate with the institute.
Mission, Goals and Objectives
Four key words define CALIT2’s mission: innovate, integrate, incubate, ignite. Under the leadership of Professor G.P. Li, the institute innovates novel solutions in a multidisciplinary research environment, integrates a wide range of academic expertise with industry experience to collaboratively seek ways to benefit society, incubates technology startups and ignites economic development.
In 2010, at the end of CALIT2’s first 10 years, the institute embarked on a strategic visioning process to identify focus areas on which to base future investments of time and personnel. Two years later, the process narrowed the list to four application areas: health, culture, energy and the environment. The strategy for focusing on the digital transformation of these areas is to develop technological and institutional innovations using CALIT2’s unique laboratories, technical staff and research spaces. These capabilities facilitate the formation of cross-disciplinary teams of internal and external partners who can successfully compete for funding and produce impactful accomplishments that have broad societal applications.
In these research application areas, CALIT2 is taking ideas beyond theory into practice, accelerating innovation by lowering the barriers to it. Where the university traditionally has focused on education and research, CALIT2 extends that focus to include development, demonstration and deployment of a proof-of-concept and prototype infrastructure for testing new solutions in a real-world context.
CALIT2 represents an experiment in inventing the university research environment of the future to continue to fuel innovation in the global economy. The institute:
- Builds horizontal links among departments to foster multidisciplinary studies;
- Creates research themes for aligning faculty interests with challenges of interest to society;
- Supports involvement by faculty, students, industry, government and community partners;
- Enables prototyping in CALIT2 advanced scientific facilities;
- Serves as a ‘living laboratory’ for innovative solutions;
- Provides a bridge between academia and industry via a technology incubator.
From Internet of People to today’s Internet of Things and tomorrow’s Internet of Service and Value (which will provide users with actionable intelligence via data analytics), CALIT2 – along with the emerging technologies that support this disruption – has been in the forefront of this evolution. As an institute specializing in telecommunications, CALIT2 started by using social communications platforms to research and improve the relay of information from person to person. Soon after, sensors and actuators became increasingly involved in the establishment of the cyber-physical systems that have brought about the IoT of today. From people and things, CALIT2 has witnessed the growth of data and is working to capture the potential of optimizing the data from people and things for tomorrow’s Internet of Service and Value. By doing so, the internet becomes the Internet of Everything, whereby data and processes generated from people, things and the environment create smarter and better outcomes for everyone. Many of the research topics and projects brought forth at CALIT2 reflect this movement.
The future will be here sooner than we think, and CALIT2 will be leading the way through convergence of research into human health, sustainable energy, environmental sciences and the cultural systems that bind us all together. Two central drivers unite these four research pillars: the high-performance computing/intelligent sensing nexus that is at the heart of the data revolution; and increased understanding of complex system dynamics, which provides the context through which accurate data models can be engineered and deployed, serving as intelligence at the edges of the blossoming Internet of Everything.
Statistical learning methods once confined to the quiet corners of academia and national research labs have now burst more widely onto the scene. Deep learning, machine learning, artificial intelligence, Bayesian belief nets and support vector machines now are supporting applications ranging from robotic surgery to autonomous mobility to personalized music streaming. The central concept underlying the exponential growth of these applications is data.
CALIT2 is well-positioned to lead the campus into this data-rich future – from the building’s ground floor, where new materials for personal energy harvesting are being developed, to the fourth-floor Data Engineering ThinkTank, where UCI and industry will collaborate on state-of-the-art machine-learning technology to create edge-computing methods for advanced manufacturing optimization. Future projects include multiple collaborations: with banks to utilize machine learning that can efficiently assess portfolio risks; with manufacturing industries to create systems that adaptively learn emerging constraints to process human workflows; with global supply chain managers to optimize the transport of perishable goods; and with Earth scientists to better model the complex dynamics of the threatened ecosystems upon which we depend.
To implement the next five-year vision, we are working closely with UCI’s Research Cyberinfrastructure Center and leveraging NSF resources from the Qualcomm Institute at UCSD. With our Data Engineering ThinkTank providing an interactive window into the state-of-the-art computing and storage resources provided by the Pacific Research Platform, CALIT2 will come to provide a new distributed shared facility for campus researchers to conduct digitally enabled scientific research. We believe this effort will transform UCI into a major leader in cyber-engineering and in developing edge-computed Internet of Everything technology for data refinement.
Over the past years, CALIT2 has successfully demonstrated its ability to establish and manage shared-use facilities and scientific instrumentation for UCI researchers. In the next five years, CALIT2 will build the next-generation, shared cyberinfrastructure, enabling a wide spectrum of research in the Age of Data.