Friday, March 5, 2010

Crowdsourcing emergency information over HF spectrum data platform

It's been over 6 months since I've been looking for a potential funding agency to support our concept on field testing transmission of data of the High Frequency spectrum. Overall the benefits of the system is to support Emergency Communication before and after disasters when terrestrial networks are down and congested.

Part of the concept, namely the alerting component, was proven in the lab and a video of Sahana CAP alert issued over HF data can be viewed on YouTube.

At present we have the buy in from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Telecommunications Authority of Maldives, and Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL). Also other partners such as National Disaster Management Centers and Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies. These three nodes allows us to test the network over long, medium, and short range transmissions to evaluate the performance. Moreover, evaluate the practicalities of the applications in a given domain and environment.

I think the problem with the proposal is that it does not address the touchy feely social aspect to the research where donors who actually get money from tax payers or from Philanthropist, then like to give money to those projects that make them feel like they helped a poor person to feel good about themselves and that they would have a better after life. Perhaps this project falls more in line with a pure engineering or science project. The gist of it is that the technology is geared for Disaster Management and saving lives.

Idea is to provide a platform for crowdsourcing when all other technologies are ill-fated; where mobile hand held terminal devices, in the absence of their connection to the network, can still be used as a storage device for images, sound bites, or text that are vital ground information, then use the HF data platform to communicate that life saving information to far away central crisis management centers to optimally allocate resources to maximize the benefits.

The technology has the potential to leverage an untapped set of skilled communications experts; namely the Ham radio operators, to assist their governments in providing communications. Setting up HF stations is as simple as stringing wires between trees or hoisting a pole for the antenna then fixing it to a portable HF radio with a laptop and Pactor Modem. This simple setup (to mention with free air time) can provide the data streaming for chat, email, Situation-Report, Situational-Awareness/Alert applications.

This Figure shows the different circumstances the platform can operate in such as providing secured and unsecured transmissions for chat, email, Situation-Report, Situational-Awareness/Alert application during pre and post disaster crisis windows over short, medium, and long distances.

We'll keep trying until someone realizes the true potential of this uncommercialized network technology that can aid in humanitarian efforts.