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This paper outlines how an aerial telecommunications network can optimally meet the stringent needs of emergency relief and recovery operations. We propose a novel architecture, made of an integrated and highly dynamic multi-purpose aerial telecommunications infrastructure that can be contextually extended with fast-deploying high or low altitude platforms. In particular, we analyze the interest and challenges of adapting core concepts from substitution networks and controlled mobility mechanisms, so that a base network can be seamlessly augmented, both in terms of capacity and functions. We give an estimation of the emergency traffic supported by the lower altitude platforms in an example scenario and discuss the challenges posed by this architecture, notably in terms of disaster resilience and ability to efficiently provide sustained first responder communications.
Date of Conference: 3-7 Oct. 2011