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Vote for McCormick Professor’s Open Internet Challenge Submissions

The Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Apps Challenge calls for researchers and software developers to produce research and create apps that empower consumers to monitor and protect the Internet as an open platform that allows user choice and freedom of expression.

Fabián E. Bustamante, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the AquaLab at Northwestern University, has answered that call. Bustamante has entered two submissions into the contest:

Dasu is based on the idea that popular network-intensive applications, such as BitTorrent or Skype, offer a nearly ideal vantage point for Internet Service Provider characterization. Through them, one can easily and continuously capture the network performance and service reliability of customers in nearly every corner of the world.

 The Dasu extension for the popular Vuze/Azureus BitTorrent client efficiently captures ISP service variations by constantly monitoring and measuring the level of service provided by customers’ ISP, so they can make informed decisions about users’ choice of service provider.

NEWS (Network Early Warning System) relies on peer-to-peer users to help detect and report Internet network performance problems. The plugin does this by passively monitoring BitTorrent performance and checking for changes that might indicate problems with the network. Because a network problem can be anywhere, NEWS uses corroboration from multiple users running in the same area (e.g., ISP or country). If enough people see the same problem in the same areas, an alarm is raised.

Determining the existence, let alone the impact, of network anomalies is important because the Internet has no overall monitoring system. Current monitoring systems try to identify network anomalies and can look for issues that could lead to performance problems but cannot tell whether individual users are actually experiencing problems.

The contest will have winners chosen by expert judges and winners chosen by public vote. Click on the links above to vote; voting will close July 15. The winners will present their work to the FCC and be featured on the FCC website.

The FCC adopted new rules late last that bans Internet providers from blocking lawful traffic and discriminating against activity that uses high levels of bandwidth. The challenge is meant to encourage the development software that can provide users with real-time data about their Internet connection.