US Team Creates High Speed Internet Lane For Emergencies


Establishing communication following a disasters is definitely a challenge. You have no idea of who needs what at which point so coordinating that is a whole new level of tough. Even with high speed internet, there can be issues such as damaged networks and loss of electricity. But what if there was a way to send and receive large amounts of data through the internet during a time of crisis? Well that’s where these folks come into play.

301,000 people were affected by the floods in 2016
Image credits: Strait Times/Reuters

They’ve been working with actual responders and emergency managers, in order to develop a method for transmitting urgent information that is a higher priority than regular internet traffic. So essentially, they create a high-speed lane on the internet for use in case of emergencies.

Working with students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the team has effectively created a new traffic control system aimed specifically at emergency response networks. They call it the multi-node label routing protocol. The key component here is that the protocol allows you to transmit data without affecting other protocols on the internet.

Usually, a router would map out the best route to transmit information (hence being called a router). With this protocol however, they divide possible routes for internet traffic into a number of hierarchies. Akin to how data is gathered from individual responders to local commanders to regional managers and so on, this internet protocol too allows routers to connect with their immediate neighbors in the hierarchy, thus rerouting much more efficiently and in a faster manner.

Thus far, the team have tested the system on the National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Network Innovations, which is a collaborative effort among many universities in the US that allows researchers to develop networking protocols and systems using actual systems and networking hardware located across the country. They connected a total of 27 systems. Once the link was broken and the protocol was put into place, they were able to resume multi-node label routing communications within a timeframe of 12.5 seconds, which is around 12 times faster than the regular border gateway protocol’s recovery speed.

the BGP Protocol (Left) Vs the MNLR Protocol
Image Credits: TheConversation

Just imagine if something of this sort was established in Sri Lanka as well? Given the current situation where we experienced natural disasters such as floods and landslides, a protocol of this nature would indeed be a great asset to identify areas that need immediate support as fast as possible.

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