The University of Waikato’s WAND Network Research Group has been awarded just under $1.5 million in government funding over four years to develop models and tools to monitor the performance of internet networks across New Zealand.
It’s one of two University of Waikato projects to win funding in the first tranche of results of the 2012 Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment research funding round, announced today.
The other successful Waikato project is a two-year investigation into positive ageing in New Zealand.
The network infrastructure monitoring project is led by Dr Richard Nelson, and will involve the first-ever comprehensive measurement of the performance and topology of the network infrastructure across the whole country.
“The internet is fast becoming a key infrastructure, and the government is now investing $1.5 billion in ultra-fast broadband and the rural broadband initiative,” says Dr Nelson.
“But the internet is only as good as its weakest point – and that’s where we come in. We’re aiming to build a distributed platform to monitor the links between all the different networks, which will allow network operators to detect problems in service without having to wait for users to alert them.”
He says it’s important to note the researchers are only interested in the performance of the physical network.
“We won’t be looking at the information carried on the networks, so there are no issues with privacy or commercial confidentiality. Our aim is simply to make sure the information gets through.”
Dr Nelson and his colleague Professor Tony McGregor aim to use the technology developed through the project to build better tools for service providers to use themselves for end-to-end monitoring of their networks.
Dr Nelson says it’s envisaged the monitoring platform will be able to automatically identify and locate network problems which will help improve the resilience of New Zealand’s digital infrastructure.
“The lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquake point up the vulnerability of our infrastructure lifelines to natural hazards. If we can easily pinpoint the source of a problem, then it’s that much quicker to fix it.”
The WAND Network Research Group is based in the University of Waikato’s Department of Computer Science, and has a particular specialisation in network measurement, modelling and simulation. It has a strong record in contract research and consulting in the telecommunications and computer networks field.