Towards an intelligent information infrastructure (TI3)

What was the priority?

The current information infrastructure is being strained by a deluge of data and the ever-increasing requirements to support bandwidth-hungry applications, enhanced security measures and the increasing mobility of computing. A future information infrastructure needs to intelligently manage massive amounts of data, ensure efficient communications and exploit the content and information that will be available.

With the increasing emphasis on ubiquitous computing and the surge of information it generates, there needs to be smarter computing architectures, sustainable networks and secure storage solutions, as well as the capabilities to understand and efficiently manage the content within existing data. To manipulate, understand and use data and content to its maximum potential and encompass this in an intelligent framework is a considerable research challenge that has been recognised through dialogue with the research community via the ICT theme days, Communications Network and WINES and ICT Research - The Next Decade workshops.

The priority encouraged new research that could address the treatment of large data-sets, performance of digital services and exploring emerging technologies for low power, high speed, high density, low cost memory and storage solutions, which replace existing methods. Such considerations span many areas of ICT from Networks to Mobile Computing, Artificial Intelligence to RF Devices and from Information Systems to Image and Vision Computing.

There were key opportunities for pioneering research challenges that could resolve the telecoms bottleneck and address the deluge of data and deliver understanding from information that would have high impact for individuals and future society, with links to application areas and societal challenges such as Healthcare, Cybersecurity, Digital Economy, cloud computing and ethics.

Implementation of the Priority

The ICT Theme undertook a number of activities to facilitate the research community's activities to address this priority. A workshop was held in December 2012 to explore what the key opportunities and challenges are, further developing the scope of this priority and gathering information for a funding call in this area.

A call for proposals was run in 2013, titled "A Step Towards an Intelligent Information Infrastructure", which awarded £5.4 million of funding for six projects that addressed sub-priorities identified by the community at the 2012 workshop, were funded. From 2014-2015, EPSRC also ran other calls in this priority, including Making Sense from Data and User Interaction with ICT.

In addition to these calls the ICT community was encouraged to submit proposals contributing to the TI3 priority using standard mechanisms. Many standard mode proposals have been awarded which contribute to this priority, as have a number of Fellowships and Programme Grants.

The lack of capacity in test bed facilities was identified through consultation activities including the 2012 workshop as a specific barrier in addressing this priority. In order to enable the research community to overcome this barrier, the call UK interconnected test beds to support a research and innovation internet environment was run in 2015/2016. Four projects, totalling £5.3 Million were funded.

Outcomes of the Priority

The outcome of this priority has been to better equip the UK research community to address the future demands of an increasingly connected world through enabling researchers to access the tools and address the challenges that an intelligent information infrastructure requires. The six projects funded under the 2013/2014 call are well underway in their work addressing different challenges and identifying new challenges for the future, and these are complemented by more specifically targeted efforts supported by the Making Sense from Data and User Interaction with ICT calls described above. Additionally, the four interconnected test beds funded call are establishing themselves from late 2016 onwards, and will further facilitate the translation of information infrastructure research to real world applications to support the success a future connected nation.