Principle Investigator: K.K. Ramakrishnan
University of California, Riverside
Effective communication among first responders during and in the aftermath of a disaster can affect outcomes dramatically. We seek to build a resilient architecture that allows first responders to communicate even with: (i) damage to infrastructure – civilian and/or specialized communication facilities may be damaged by the disaster, (ii) congested channels – because affected people report something about the disaster, and these messages may be broadcast, (iii) dynamically formed groups – first responder teams may be formed dynamically in response to a disaster and team member addresses (e.g., phone numbers) may not be known to one another, (iv) impediments to communication – because the new command chain to manage the disaster may be different from the original organizational hierarchy,(v) poor interoperability – each sub-team might use different communication facilities, and (vi) security attacks – disaster situations are often vulnerable to attacks, requiring authentication and authorization as well as establishing data integrity and provenance.
We propose a resilient network architecture that allows efficient communication among first responders during and after a disaster. Our network architecture will be informed by models for traffic demand that we develop based on a careful study of reported experiences and communication requirements of first responders from a variety of recent disaster situations. We seek to support dynamically formed groups for incident response, allowing first responders to securely and conveniently communicate based on roles (names), rather than network addresses.
The architecture will directly address the needs identified above for communication in disasters by (i) building resilience into the framework across all the layers, (ii) creating a framework that allows communication by role and identity, rather than addresses, (iii) supporting multiple modalities (data, voice, video) for communication among dynamically formed first responder teams, and (iv) providing robust and resilient communication and computing even when facilities are error- and disruption-prone.
This project will address the difficulties in disaster communication with the following building blocks: (i) Modeling of communication for public safety in emergencies using data from recent disasters including the San Bernardino shooting, London bombing, Haiti earthquake etc.; (ii) Dynamic naming schema, where senders do not need to know the identity of the exact individuals, but instead only need to know the (name of the) role and the network will deliver the messages to the proper individual(s) instantiated for the role; (iii) Device-to-device (D2D) routing, where information (data, voice, video) can be shared by groups of people within a network partition that may have limited communication facilities or is entirely cut-off because of damage to the infrastructure; (iv) Smart mode-switching, where heterogenous interfaces of devices are opportunistically exploited in multi-hop D2D networks to improve quality and reliability of communication; (v) Network coding, where packets from a group of first responders in a D2D setup are coded together for throughput improvement, and reliability; (vi) Security achieved with self-certifying names and coding (for integrity, authentication, provenance and confidentiality); and (vii) A Prototype to demonstrate the efficacy of our architecture and system.
The innovations we propose are not without significant challenges. The first challenge will be to provide flexibility to dynamically formed teams; to do this, we will manage the naming schema carefully. The underlying complexity of naming will be hidden from first responders, letting them communicate with ease. Second, we will ensure security among authenticated users, maintaining confidentiality and data integrity even in a partitioned network. And third, we will carefully control the overheads of D2D routing and network coding so as to provide high performance when infrastructure is damaged.
First responders can communicate using multiple modalities, without knowing one another’s location or network address, while avoiding channel congestion, both when infrastructure is available and when it is damaged. Self-certifying names and network coding provide security and efficiency.