Students Staff

28 July 2013

Transcript for Dr Martin Reed video

The internet is a fantastic resource and works incredibly well at delivering what we want and need today. However, it is based upon technology that’s over 30 years old. The system was never designed to work to support the services that we are introducing today, and services that we will need to introduce that we haven’t even thought of yet.

The PURSUIT project is a 6.7 million euro project which has brought together a number of universities from Europe and industrial partner Ericsson from Finland, to look at the future of the internet and to make it an information-centric network.

It’s a project which has won an award recently at the Future Internet Assembly, for the best future internet project, and the reason it’s won that award is because it’s considering some very ground-breaking technology to take us not just to the next generation of networking, but the generation beyond that as well.

PURSUIT is a project that’s considering a large range of the network and how it operates, so everything from the applications, which could be how videos transported, to how data is shared for things like health records, right the way down to how the underlying networks deliver the data.

In particular, the PURSUIT project looks at the publish-subscribe model of the internet and that’s quite a different way of doing things from the way the internet is built today. So the internet today works in much the way that we know e-mails work, if, I want to send a message to someone it just goes to them whether or not they want to receive it or not, and we all know that from receiving so much spam.

Contrast that with another way that we’re all used to using the internet and that’s social media, like Facebook. With Facebook you subscribe, you become a friend of someone else, so you’re subscribing to their wall, their homepage and if you don’t want to receive anything more from them you can unsubscribe from it.

What we’re doing is transforming the network to operate in that way, so that if you want to subscribe to data, you get it, if you don’t want it, you won’t get it.

This project is truly ground-breaking research. What inspired all the partners is to look beyond the current networking which is just about delivering bits, to an information centric networking, and for researchers this is particularly exciting because we’ve had no constraints, we’ve been able to look and try things completely new, things that haven’t been tried recently for other networking systems and that’s truly blue sky research.

One of the concerns in the internet today is security and very much security in the internet today is based around the servers that you communicate with. So, if I want to authenticate with a server, I first of all check that servers good, the browser does that for me, and then typically you put a password in so that they know who you are. That’s very much about communicating with a system, a machine. That doesn’t really authenticate or protect the individual data items that go between you and the server.

So, by operating at an information level, it’s possible for information itself to be secured in a much more straight forward way than can be done in the existing internet. An example of that that’s really useful, are things like medical health records. Some medical information you may be happy to be shared and others you may want to keep very, very secure.
So with PURSUIT, each individual information item is an item by itself, and can be protected.

The ground-breaking work we’ve done will not appear for maybe 5, 10, 15 years. However, we are exploring projects and collaborations with industry where some of the important outcomes will come to fruition much more quickly. So for example, one of the areas we are looking at is how we can very efficiently switch data, much more efficiently than can be done today on the internet and Ericsson are already exploiting that technology today. And again, that won’t appear immediately to users except that their videos appear more quickly with less errors, less delays and less of the stop, waiting for downloads signals that you commonly see in videos.

...more news releases