This is an important signal arising from numerous recent devastations – a decentralized – mesh or fog network can be integrated with a distributed renewable energy framework – to provide a more robust civil infrastructure. The first responders in any crisis situation are the people in the crisis situation – the key question is what types of infrastructure can best and most robustly serve people in crisis to help themselves and help the inevitable helpers provide vital support. What infrastructures can be the most robust for maintaining survivability as well as evolvable thrivability.
Under the label of “Never let a Disaster go to Waste” – there is a huge possibility now in the wake of the recent devastations wrought by nature – to develop a sort of ‘Marshall Plan’ of renewable, digital, calamity resistant infrastructure.
“Increasingly, data gathered from passive and active sensors that people carry with them, such as their mobile phones, is being used to inform situational awareness in a variety of settings,” said Kishore Ramachandran, computer science professor at Georgia Tech and lead researcher on the project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“In this way, humans are providing beneficial social sensing services. However, current social sensing services depend on internet connectivity since the services are deployed on central cloud platforms.”
Research demonstrates ability to gather and share data without internet service
Storms like Hurricane Irma and other natural disasters bring with them lots of uncertainty: where will they go, how much damage will they cause. What is certain is that no matter where they strike, natural disasters knock out power.
And, no power means no internet for thousands of people in affected areas.
However, Georgia Tech researchers are proposing a new way of gathering and sharing information during natural disasters that does not rely on the internet.
Using computing power built into mobile phones, routers, and other hardware to create a network, emergency managers and first responders will be able to share and act on information gathered from people impacted by hurricanes, tornados, floods, and other disasters.
The Georgia Tech proposal takes advantages of edge computing. Also known as fog computing, edge computing places more processing capabilities in sensing devices – like surveillance cameras, embedded pavement sensors, and others, as well as in consumer devices like cell phones, readers, and tablets – in order to improve network latency between sensors, apps, and users.
Rather than just being able to communicate through the internet with central cloud platforms, the Georgia Tech team has demonstrated that by harnessing edge computing resources, sensing devices can be enabled to identify and communicate with other sensors in an area.