US: The National Science Foundation has awarded USD 4.4 million to an initiative led by the University of Illinois that will combine cyberinfrastructure, spatial analysis and modelling, and geographic information science to form a collaborative software framework encompassing many research fields.
Cyberinfrastructure is a system that integrates data management, visualisation, high-performance computing and human elements to tackle complex problems. This type of supercomputing power could address many GIS scenarios where current software falls short.
Led by Shaowen Wang, a professor of geography and also a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois, an interdisciplinary team of researchers will work to develop CyberGIS, a comprehensive software framework that will harness the power of cyberinfrastructure for GIS and associated applications. Computer science professor Marc Snir chairs the project steering committee.
“The overarching goal of this project is to establish CyberGIS as a fundamentally new software framework encompassing a seamless integration of cyberinfrastructure, GIS, and spatial analysis and modelling capabilities,” Wang said. “It could lead to widespread scientific breakthroughs that have broad societal impacts.”
The project is part of NSF’s Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation programme, which aims to promote scalable, sustainable, open-source software elements. In addition to the advanced problem-solving capabilities, the researchers hope that CyberGIS will enhance sharing among researchers and facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction through multiple-user, online collaboration.
“CyberGIS will empower high-performance, collaborative geospatial problem solving,” Wang said. “For example, it could dramatically advance the understanding of disaster preparedness and response and impacts of global climate change.”