Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers to Demo and Deploy Disaster Communications System

In the aftermath of most disasters – from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to this year’s earthquake in Japan – communication systems have been overwhelmed, leaving people without phones and Internet when they need these tools the most.

Fortunately, Georgia Tech College of Computing researchers have developed a possible solution. It’s an innovative wireless system called LifeNet designed to help first responders communicate after disasters. LifeNet is a mobile ad-hoc network designed for use in highly transient environments that requires no infrastructure such as Internet, cell towers or traditional landlines.

“It’s an independent network you can join,” said Santosh Vempala, Georgia Tech distinguished professor of computer science in the College of Computing.

“It doesn’t need wires, antennas, cell towers and so on, and it works across platforms like laptops and smart phones. We imagine relief agencies would be able to set up a network right away and communicate about what’s needed.”

Vempala and his graduate student, Hrushikesh Mehendale, will demonstrate the LifeNet system at the ACM SIGCOM conference from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. today in Toronto, Canada.

The standard for post-disaster communications is the satellite phone, which, at $600 or more per unit, can be expensive to own and, at 50 cents per text, costly to use.

LifeNet, however, bridges connectivity between a satellite phone or other Internet gateway and a WiFi-based network on the ground. It extends the coverage of a satellite phone or a service such as SMS from one computer with access to the entire independent network in the field. Essentially, that means several people in the field who may not have satellite phones but have smart phones or laptops with WiFi capability can connect to the LifeNet network, communicate with each other with no other infrastructure and use the Internet as long as any one of them has access.

“Currently available options such as satellite communication are expensive and have limited functionality,” Mehendale said. “If you use LifeNet, the cost savings per text message is 100 times less than a satellite phone.”

LifeNet is also easy to set up. The network starts as soon as a node is put in place. Each LifeNet-enabled computer acts as both a host client and a router, able to directly route data to and from any other available wireless device. Nodes can be moved from location to location as needed, and the network remains intact.

The software developed by Vempala and Mehendale for LifeNet provides basic communications that are low bandwidth and reliable. It doesn’t allow users to stream video, for example, but it can send text messages for basic communication needs.

“It’s a trade-off of performance for reliability,” Vempala said. “Reliability is really what you need the most in these situations.”

During the demo at SIGCOMM, conference attendees will be able to see the Atlanta-based LifeNet network via a web-based interface in Toronto. They will be able to log into the network, send messages, move nodes and see how communication is affected.

Georgia Tech researchers are currently ready to deploy LifeNet for field testing and are looking to expand beyond crisis communications.

Vempala’s team recently partnered with Tata Institute of Social Sciences India, which has a disaster management center. Together, the researchers identified cyclone-affected areas without communications infrastructure that could benefit most from LifeNet. As a result, researchers will be deploying LifeNet in the Mohali region of India over the next several months.

“In an area without any other connectivity, we will establish a set up that could be used daily and could also be specifically helpful during a disaster,” Mehendale said. “We need to make the solution a part of their daily lives since people cannot afford costly equipment like satellite phones in third-world regions.”

The researchers also hope to pitch LifeNet as a package to FEMA, the Red Cross and other U.S. relief agencies soon.

“There are many recent situations, like the Mississippi floods this summer, where this would have been valuable,” Vempala said. “People were trapped. Cell phones were not working, the Internet is down and people don’t have a way to communicate. . . . LifeNet can be the solution.”

Liz Klipp | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Tokyo Tech's six-legged robots get closer to nature
12.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>