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The Evolution of Hastily Formed Networks for Disaster Response: Technologies, Case Studies, and Future Trends

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3 Author(s)
Nelson, C.B. ; Tactical Oper., Cisco Syst. Inc., San Jose, CA, USA ; Steckler, B.D. ; Stamberger, J.A.

Providing communications during disaster relief continues to be a significant challenge. Difficulties associated with communications between responders, disparate agencies and the outside world continue to plague disaster response efforts. Modern disaster response often requires the transmission of various information including text, voice, video and other types of data. One way of providing communications during disaster response is through the use of Hastily Formed Networks. Hastily Formed Networks are rapidly deployable ad-hoc networks which can be generated using a variety of different technologies including 802.11 WiFi, 802.16 WiMAX, and VSAT. Early implementations of these ad-hoc disaster networks were slow, primitive and unreliable. In the past, equipment needed to implement Hastily Formed Networks was expensive, cumbersome and in many cases only available to the military or large corporations. Today, many of these technologies are increasingly available and have matured to provide robust rapidly deployable networks. In many cases these networks can provide interoperability between disparate agencies, provide crucial operational information and support real-time situational awareness. This paper reviews recent advances in technologies associated with providing communications in extreme environments and summarizes practical requirements for implementing Hastily Formed Networks in disaster response environments. We also present a model applicable to communications in disaster response scenarios. Case studies from events such as hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake and major exercises including Strong Angel and Urban Shield illustrate the evolution of these network technologies, inform lessons, and indicate directions for the future of emergency communications.

Published in:

Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC), 2011 IEEE

Date of Conference:

Oct. 30 2011-Nov. 1 2011