By Christina Clark
SpectrumX, a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Spectrum Innovation Center, will host its next semi-annual center meeting on October 3 and 4, 2022. The event will bring together the center’s members and partners, including faculty and student researchers, industry collaborators, and government agency representatives, in a hybrid meeting format with in-person attendees enjoying the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. The center launched in September 2021 with a $25 million grant from the NSF Spectrum Innovation Initiative, and its members have been working hard to execute on plans and realize its vision as the world’s largest academic hub in the radio spectrum ecosystem.
Associate Director Scott Palo, Endowed Professor in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department at the University of Colorado Boulder, is looking forward to the meeting.
“SpectrumX is just wrapping up a very busy first year of existence. This center meeting will provide a venue to reflect on our successes, ideate on new projects and discuss emerging spectrum challenges. The meeting will bring together a wide cross section of stakeholders to develop an exciting and dynamic plan,” Palo said.
The University of Virginia (UVa) is a leading academic member institution of SpectrumX, and in close proximity are members National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and Virginia Diodes (VDI). In-person attendees will have the opportunity to tour relevant university labs as well as NRAO facilities. Close in proximity to the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C., the Charlottesville location is also convenient for key government agency partners, including the NSF, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
“Spectrum coexistence is of critical importance and interest to both the scientific and engineering communities. Given the need for access to uncluttered spectrum for radio astronomy and remote sensing, as well as the University of Virginia’s long history of collaboration with NRAO in research and development quantum-limited receivers for the radio astronomy, we are excited to be part of SpectrumX and look forward to hosting the center meeting at UVa this October,” said Bobby Weikle, SpectrumX Radio and Network Technologies Research Lead, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia. “Our work in millimeter and submillimeter instrumentation, in a sense, has come full circle with the establishment of SpectrumX and we eagerly anticipate engaging our colleagues at the meeting to find innovative solutions to coexistence for all users needing access to this precious resource.”
Advancing SpectrumX’s Collaborative Projects
The meeting agenda will foster discussions and broader engagement on projects that contribute to SpectrumX’s research, educational, and policy outreach goals. Each session will include a project overview, a panel discussion to integrate additional perspectives from the center, and a question and answer period. Planned sessions include:
- Broadband Mapping: The Broadband Mapping project uses smartphones that the center is bringing to some of its campuses, and especially its partner Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), to create maps of wireless broadband connectivity. It will empower students at partner Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to collect data that informs the FCC on broadband coverage for the three major wireless carriers. The effort is led by Monisha Ghosh, SpectrumX Policy Outreach Director and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, and includes elements of research, policy with the FCC, education and workforce development as students take on the roles of collecting data.
“This project presents an opportunity to collect meaningful broadband data coverage measurements that are consequential and impactful to the nation and agencies that regulate and monitor broadband service for the public good,” said Tanya Ennis, SpectrumX Broadening Participation Director.
- RadioHound Deployment: The RadioHound node has proven to be a low-cost spectrum sensor, and it has shown significantly improved high-frequency sensitivity in a recent update. The center’s next steps are to build 50 of these sensors and have them deployed at locations such as the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez and MIT Haystack Observatory, to understand the logistics of sensor deployments and begin collecting radio-frequency data. The effort is led by Bertrand Hochwald, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, who is excited about the next phase of the project.
“Our team has been surveying the landscape of RF sensors, and developing what we believe is a unique offering. Deploying sensors with SpectrumX partners will enable us to expand the users and applications being considered for such sensors and sensing systems, and drive requirements for evolutions of sensing systems and their use in radio-frequency situational awareness and spectrum sharing applications,” Hochwald said.
- Spectrum Rights and Sovereignty: Ilia Murtazashvili, SpectrumX Research Partner, and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Martin Weiss, Economics and Policy Research Working Group and Project Team Lead, and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, co-authored a paper published in August with consultant Darrah Blackwater that explores spectrum sovereignty on tribal lands. In the SpectrumX article on the publication, Murtazashvili said “the analysis of the DIGITAL Reservations Act is part of the SpectrumX Tribal Lands Project. One significant aspect of our project is to consider carefully how greater autonomy of Native Nations to manage spectrum can address the digital divide on tribal lands.”
- Coexistence Case Studies: Whitney Lohmeyer, Use Cases and Coexistence Research Working Group Lead, and Professor at Olin College of Engineering, will also lead a session during which she will give a status update on an undergraduate course-based research project she has developed and piloted with Randy Berry, SpectrumX Research Partner and Professor at Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering. As an interim result of this effort, twenty five students will present in pairs their investigations of a number of spectrum coexistence issues (e.g. 5G vs FAA Radar Altimeters, FSS Megaconstellation vs. Radio Astronomy in Ku- and V-band) and summarize them in an accessible form, with the intention of including the materials on the SpectrumX website. Industry and government perspectives will be integrated to ensure that SpectrumX produces a balanced view of these issues, and identifies technical and policy gaps to be pursued with future research projects.
- Spectrum Moonshots: The meeting will culminate with a session to give researchers and stakeholders the opportunity to look beyond planned projects and discuss future aspirations for their work in SpectrumX. According to Nick Laneman, Center Director and Professor at the University of Notre Dame, “In this session, we will explore what more SpectrumX can and should pursue to go even bigger and solidify its position as a national resource on spectrum issues.”
- Poster Session: In addition to facilitated sessions, a poster session will give attendees the opportunity to mingle and speak directly with researchers, students, and partners about their work on a broader set of topics. During the poster session, spectrum-minded attendees will be able to exchange ideas, make connections and learn about further research that may not have been spotlighted in a dedicated session.
The center invites spectrum partners and stakeholders to attend.
Fill out the RSVP registration form for further information on attending.