NSF MRI: Acquisition of a National CyberGIS Facility for Computing and Data-Intensive Geospatial Research and Education

The CyberGIS Center has received a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation to build a high-performance computing system optimized to deal with geospatial data.

The earth and environment are facing a changing climate and the accelerated degradation of natural resources, issues that create a host of societal problems. Advancing geographic information science and systems and related applications in fields such as environmental engineering, hydrology and water resources, public health, and urban studies can help address these important geospatial concerns.

Once collected, geospatial data—or information that is linked to location and time—can be complex, irregular, and difficult to analyze. With the newly awarded NSF grant of more than $2.5 million support, the CyberGIS Center hopes to change that with the creation of the National CyberGIS Facility. A consortium of 11 units across the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus as well as multiple academic, government, and industry partners have come together to build a novel CyberGIS instrument capable of solving diverse sets of scientific problems previously considered impossible.

This instrument will be equipped with:

  • more than 7 petabytes of raw disk storage with high input/output (I/O) bandwidth;
  • solid state drives for applications demanding high data-access performance;
  • advanced graphics processing units for exploiting massive parallelism in geospatial computing;
  • and interactive visualization supported with a high-speed network and dynamically provisioned cloud computing resources.

These capabilities will be integrated through leading edge CyberGIS software and tools and lead users to data-rich and interactive geospatial problem solving and decision-making. The new facility will be made available in spring 2015, supporting pioneering research in geospatial communities, industries, and government entities as well as foster crosscutting education, outreach, and training programs.