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Community networking

This area is focused on experimentally-driven research on Community-owned network infrastructures. A cooperative development of Internet: scalable, self-organized and decentralized IP networks and services built and operated by citizens for citizens. In other words, departing from the established model of Internet as a service provide by telcos, this is a bottom-up model of Internet as an emerging and self-organized network out of commodity devices deployed by citizens. The ongoing research projects are:

  • Community Networks and Clouds (2017-2019) We envision an evolution in Cloud platforms from purely centralized data centers to more heterogeneous and distributed infrastructures integrating a myriad of devices in the edge of the Internet. On the one hand, there are growing user and enterprise concerns about trust, privacy, and autonomy that require taking the control of computing applications, data, and services away from a few central nodes (data centers) to the logical extremes (the edges) of the Internet. On the other hand, the proliferation of edge devices, increased connectivity and powerful wireless networks involve interesting opportunities for hybrid cloud services and networks in the extremes of the Internet. The aim of this project is twofold: to provide the means for users, enterprises and institutions to retake the control of their digital resources (digital data, processing and transfer) and to deliver services to the edge such that data does not necessarily need to go beyond edge boundaries. The project is funded by the Spanish government, code TIN2016-77836-C2-2-R
  • Network infrastructure as commons (NetCommons) (2016-2018) is a Horizon2020 research project (688768), which follows a novel transdisciplinary methodology on treating network infrastructure as commons, for resiliency, sustainability, self-determination, and social integration. Project partners have expertise in engineering, computer science, economics, law, political science, urban, media, and social studies; and close links with successful Community Networks like guifi.net, ninux.org, and sarantaporo.gr.
  • The goal of LightKone (2017-2019) is a Horizon2020 research project (732505), targeted to develop a scientifically sound and industrially validated model for doing general-purpose computation on edge networks. An edge network consists of a large set of heterogeneous, loosely coupled computing nodes situated at the logical extreme of a network. Common examples are community networks and Internet of Things networks, and networks including mobile devices, personal computers, and points of presence including Mobile Edge Computing. Internet applications are increasingly running on edge networks, to reduce latency, increase scalability, resilience, and security, and permit local decision making. However, today’s state of the art, the gossip and peer-to-peer models, gives no solution for defining general-purpose computations on edge networks, i.e., computations with shared mutable state. LightKone will solve this problem by combining two recent advances in distributed computing, namely synchronisation-free programming and hybrid gossip algorithms, both of which are successfully used separately in industry. Together, they are a natural combination for edge computing. We will cover edge networks both with and without data center nodes, and applications focused on collaboration, computation, and both. Project results will be new programming models and algorithms that advance scientific understanding, implemented in new industrial applications and a startup company, and evaluated in large-scale realistic settings.
Recently completed projects are:
  • Confine (2011-2015, a FP7 Integrated Project coordinated by this group): Community networks are an emerging and successful model for the Future Internet across Europe and far beyond.The CONFINE project complements existing FIRE infrastructures by establishing a new facility built on the federation of existing community IP networks constituted by more than 20,000 nodes and 20,000 Km of links. These community networks incorporate a large and wide variety of commodity wireless and optical links, heterogeneous nodes, different routing protocols, applications and a large number of end-users, following an innovative model of self-provisioning using unlicensed and public spectrum.
    The project develops Community-Lab, a unified access to an open testbed with tools that allow researchers to deploy, run, monitor and experiment with services, protocols and applications on real-world community IP networks.
  • Clommunity (2013-2014, a FP7 STREP Project coordinated by this group): The project aims at addressing the obstacles for communities of citizens in bootstrapping, running and expanding community-owned networks that provide community services organised as community clouds. That requires solving specific research challenges imposed by the requirement of: self-managing and scalable (decentralized) infrastructure services for the management and aggregation of a large number of widespread low-cost unreliable networking, storage and home computing resources; distributed platform services to support and facilitate the design and operation of elastic, resilient and scalable service overlays and user-oriented services built over these underlying services, providing a good quality of experience at the lowest economic and environmental cost. This will be achieved through experimentally-driven research, using the Community-Lab testbed, the participation of large user communities and software developers from several community networks, by extending existing cloud service prototypes in a cyclic participatory process of design, development, experimentation, evaluation and optimization for each challenge.