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Networking The Internet Wireless Networking

How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the when-the-microwave-calls dept.
jfruh writes While the Internet has made communications easier, that ease had made us very dependent on the Internet for communications — and, when disaster strikes, power and infrastructure outages tend to shut down those communications networks when we need them most. But now researchers are examining how the so-called "Internet of Things" — the proliferating array of Internet-communicating devices in our lives — can transmit emergency messages via ad-hoc networks even when the Internet backbone in a region is inoperable.
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How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, did you know that my Wi-Fi card lets me create an Ad-hoc network that does not rely on a BSS?

    Yet, how many people go home and connect their laptops together directly? If people can't figure that out...

    Just because my microwave can theoretically connect to my neighbor's washing machine doesn't mean that the average end user is going to be utilizing such a capability, especially to send an emergency message. In an emergency, you might be lucky if a person with a cell phone is coherent enough to rememb

    • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @03:49AM (#47521127)

      Yet, how many people go home and connect their laptops together directly? If people can't figure that out...

      Why should they? Until one of those laptops is configured as a gateway (and all other Laptops have to be configured to use it as a gateway) you won't be able to check facebook anyway.

      Yes, you COULD create a LAN in AdHoc mode, but what good is an insulated LAN for these days? Back in the days of Quake, Descent and Age of Empires, yes, there was the option to set one up for multiplayer games. But thanks to Steam, WoW or the latest Diablo, LAN gaming has been killed of, too.

      And with the current pricepoint of wifi routers that already include DHCP and WAN routing capabilities over anything from twisted pair to LTE, running for hours on battery, that's just way easier than manually configuring network options to create an AdHoc network.

      • but what good is an insulated LAN for these days?

        ...are you serious? What about outside intruders?

        • but what good is an insulated LAN for these days?

          ...are you serious? What about outside intruders?

          I'd be only worried about them if there is something on the LAN that could be sensitive to outside intruders. Like important data, servers and stuff. But then you have real network infrastructure, and probably don't use Wifi at all. So for those cases, AdHoc-Wifi would be completly out of the question.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          but what good is an insulated LAN for these days?

          ...are you serious? What about outside intruders?

          The IP address is coming.... from inside the house!"

          apologies to "When a Stranger Calls" - 1979

  • by lolococo (574827) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:26AM (#47520985) Homepage
    howCould(char *thing, char *action) {
    printf("How %s Could %s", thing, action);
    }

    howCould("The Internet of Things", "Aid Disaster Response");
    howCould("My Grandmother", "Save The World");
  • Packet radio (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mal-2 (675116) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @02:36AM (#47521005) Homepage Journal

    And how, way I ask, does packet radio [wikipedia.org] not accomplish the same thing, across considerably larger distances than a peer-to-peer mesh network? The mesh isn't useless, but at some point it still needs to connect to some place with proper connectivity. This may not be within the range of the Internet of Things. Given the right band and the right gear, radio will be considerably slower but also considerably further-reaching. Otherwise I see no substantial use for the IoT that satellites don't already solve.

    • Re:Packet radio (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @03:05AM (#47521039)

      To be effective it really needs to be deployed in advance. Packet radio is good, but it still needs some semi-trained operators. By the time rescuers get in with the equipment, it's already too late. The IoT proposal is to use existing devices to form the network. If you're already going to install solar-powered mesh nodes in every bus stop to track arrival times, it doesn't take a great deal of modification for that network to also handle disaster communications. The hardware is much the same. Any phone with a bluetooth interface could serve as a point of access into the network. It wouldn't replace old-fashioned handheld radios, but rather supplement them - allowing coordinators to track in real time the positions of rescuers, and to transmit instructions to survivors via their own phones.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      because it'sss IoT!!!

      you know, someone could just go dig the slashdot articles for mesh networking.

      call me on it when it works actually on a small city level...

    • And how, way I ask, does packet radio [wikipedia.org] not accomplish the same thing, across considerably larger distances than a peer-to-peer mesh network? The mesh isn't useless, but at some point it still needs to connect to some place with proper connectivity. This may not be within the range of the Internet of Things.

      Because it only works if every device has a pingable IP. Or some such nonsense.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The mesh network is self assembling and zero maintenance. Self assembly and zero maintenance is HUGE during a disaster.

      Every piece of infrastructure that you want to rely on during disaster response means pushing the relief out by hours, days, maybe weeks or months while you wait for that infrastructure to be repaired, brought back into use or built from scratch. A packet radio network is infrastructure that somebody has to build. You have to fly that somebody to the disaster zone, or you have to train all

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        You really have no clue at all.

        The mesh network is self assembling and zero maintenance.

        Mesh networks are neither self-assembling nor zero maintenance. You really think that people are going to accept a "self-assembling" network that extends anywhere past their own homes into those homes? My God, man, we have people who are opposing wireless gas and electric meters in a neighboring city because they can be used to remotely turn service off, they emit dangerous radio waves, and they will "self-assemble" into a mesh that can be used to spy on people. (And "self" i

    • by dubsnipe (1822200)

      In principle it does. I checked this publication with a bit of awe because I'm currently developing a device system which can be pretty much described with this paper. You can use packet radio for sure, or other technology in order to send the signals. There are different things to take into account: how many of these will there be? Will they be deployed close to each other? Are you expecting 2 or 3 receivers to analyze 1000 signals of the same kind simultaneously? What kind of information will be send over

  • So when I'm lying under the rubble, I have to hope that my toaster can yell a wireless message to the rescuers:
    "Somebody take that fucking bread out of me!"
    if my fridge fails to send "The Milk is bad!"

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @05:57AM (#47521401) Homepage Journal

    But now researchers are examining how the so-called "Internet of Things" â" the proliferating array of Internet-communicating devices in our lives â" can transmit emergency messages via ad-hoc networks even when the Internet backbone in a region is inoperable.

    Hey, how about examining how the so-called internet-of-things could use a mesh network and replace the internet that we know with a more reliable fabric? Then it would certainly be able to transmit emergency messages.

    People complain that this approach can never handle the traffic of the interwebs but as long as you can communicate with multiple access points at once, then there is plenty of available bandwidth. Wherever population is dense, there will be more things to provide an internet, and more bandwidth available.

    • by swb (14022)

      How do you manage routing, especially across multiple identically numbered private networks?

      Even if you make the assumption that the IoT has the bandwidth, range and routing capability for meshing, it seems ripe for many kinds of abuse. Greedy traffic handling (dumping incoming, flooding outgoing), MITM, etc.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        How do you manage routing, especially across multiple identically numbered private networks?

        Well, you already don't route private networks across the internet, so that's how you solve that particular problem. You use IPv6 to solve many of the problems, of course. There are a number of mesh-networking projects out there already, if you're interested you probably should look 'em up.

  • I mean, I know that it's shocking to think that a technology could be used for something other than the intended purpose, but all I can think of is - We'll be spending most our lives living in a hackers paradise (The Weird Al one, not Coolio)
    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      I mean, I know that it's shocking to think that a technology could be used for something other than the intended purpose, but all I can think of is - We'll be spending most our lives living in a hackers paradise (The Weird Al one, not Coolio)

      What's a "Coolio"?

      I'm reading these comments wondering, we have an issue with NSA being able to intercept cell calls and various countries supporting cyber attacks against various things today, and we're looking forward to a day when there is ubiquitous, automated, hidden-to-the-user networking connecting and controlling every significant device we bring into our homes and which is configurable by external command to create those networks? That makes our refrigerator a router for emergency messages from o

  • Of all the lame reasons, this one is the worst. The last place we have privacy, in the home, is now under attack. I am sure that someday soon we will all be required to wire our homes and carry Stalin's Dream (a cellphone), ...."for our own protection".
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:16AM (#47521955) Homepage

    From: http://www.servalproject.org/ [servalproject.org] and http://developer.servalproject... [servalproject.org]
    ---
    "Serval Mesh is an Android app that provides highly secure mesh networking, voice calls, text messaging and file sharing between mobile phones using Wi-Fi, without the need for a SIM or any other infrastructure like mobile cell towers, Wi-Fi hotspots or Internet access."
    1. Communicate anytime
    Mobile phones stop working when cellular infrastructure fails. The Serval Mesh changes this, allowing mobile phones to form impromptu networks consisting only of phones. This allows people nearby to keep communicating when needed most.
    2. Communicate anywhere
    Cellular networks are not available everywhere. In Australia for example, around 75% of the land area lacks mobile coverage. Letting mobile phones form stand-alone networks provides a cost-effective solution for communities in these remote areas to enjoy mobile communications.
    3. Communicate privately
    In this modern world private conversation with friends, families and service providers is vital, whether discussing medical issues or other private subjects. The Serval Mesh is built on a foundation engineered to support security. Voice calls and text messages are always end-to-end encrypted using strong 256-bit ECC cryptography. Encrypted calls work even on low-cost Android phones.
    4.Communicate with people
    The Serval Mesh is about enabling people to communicate with one another, regardless of what circumstances may befall them, or where they live in the world. Because at the end of the day, relationship with one another is what life is all about.
    ---

    Serval was one of the first things I installed on a trio of cheap Android phones I bought for Andriod development and testing purposes several months ago (the Kyocera Hydro phones themselves ranged from US$35-$55 in price each). Still has rough edges, but getting there.

    The Serval project is also working towards cheap rugged repeaters. "The Serval Mesh Extender is a hardware device that helps other devices to join and participate in a Serval Mesh network. ... Mesh Extenders mesh together over short distances using Ad Hoc Wi-Fi, over longer distances using packet radio on the ISM 915 MHz band"

    I suggested related ideas back around 2000 based on two-mile range radios:
    "[unrev-II] The DKR hardware I'd like to make..."
    http://www.dougengelbart.org/c... [dougengelbart.org]

    Very cheap insurance to make sure people have these sorts of devices for an emergency, which these days would not cost much more than a decent US$100 "weather radio" even with basic Smartphone features...

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Very cheap insurance to make sure people have these sorts of devices for an emergency, which these days would not cost much more than a decent US$100 "weather radio"

      And yet people won't buy simple FRS radios that cost much less and allow open communications in an emergency. Your description of Serval is interesting, but it is one of the last things you want in a real emergency. During an emergency, phones are good when there is a known phone number to call for help, or for individual communications between pre-arranged parties. That's why there is '911' or '999' or whatever it is in your country. Phones lack something called "interoperability". If you don't know the o

  • Am I the only one that finds the "Internet of Things" a catastrophically, pointlessly stupid idea?

    I don't WANT my refrigerator, stove, blender, toaster, home climate control, garage door opener, office fan, or toilet connected to the internet. I cannot see how adding additional potential points of failure to everything makes them better, just so I can see when (and/or what) little Jimmy flushed this morning, or I can log in to my toaster's web page and change the settings remotely (why?).

    I've been an 'earl

  • "Power outages". Think about that for a moment. In a disaster, there's no power. No power, and your "internet of things" is a bunch of fragile physical objects that are even less useful for bludgeoning looters over the head with than your grandfather's 5 pound flashlight with a lead-acid battery in it.

    Sure, batteries last for a little while, but many of the "Internet of Things" devices aside from smartphones and tablets don't have any batteries; they just run off the mains. And if you need help beyond 8 or

    • by MattGWU (86623)

      I'm thinking about it like 'cockroaches surviving a nuclear blast'. Sure the power for the area is out in general, but maybe your thing on a battery is talking to a neighbor's fridge on a generator, is talking to...and enough things happen to have power and happen to be able to communicate that a useful network is formed.

  • What an utterly pointless article. IF we had an Internet-of-Things, and IF they all talked with each other directly instead of needing infrastructure, and IF emergency services were prioritized over regular traffic, and IF people were cool with having random devices they own connect to random devices other people own for the sole purpose of forwarding messages in a mesh network, THEN we could use the IoT as a spiffy disaster-resistant emergency network.

    No shit? Is that all it takes? Sounds like someone tr

  • The internet of things is never going to happen (at least not in the US). Wireless companies will never allow it. They'll probably try to charge you $20/month per device just to add them to your account.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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