In an emergency situation where mobile networks are either down or overloaded and there’s no WiFi, cell phones are useless. Unlike land mobile radios, used by police and fire departments, they don’t have the ability to communicate directly with each other. Until now.
The Better Approach To Mobile Adhoc Networks (BATMAN) joins smartphones together in an ad-hoc, mesh network, capable of device to device communication. You can share files and even send messages with the right application. A mobile ad hoc network is identical to a wireless ad hoc network with the additional constraint that the devices are constantly on the move (pdf).
BATMAN, which has heretofore, been used on inexpensive routers with OpenWRT. BATMAN is also included in OpenWRT as a package. PersonalTelco uses flashes routers with Batman on inexpensive routers like the Accton MR3201A and Buffalo WZR600DHP.
Shortly after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, these two came to the conclusion that there needed to be a way for emergency crews to communicate not only with one another but with local volunteers as well.
Smartphones function as their own dedicated mesh network, adding and removing users on the fly. As long as you are within range of the mesh network, you’ll have the ability to call any of the users on the network through VOIP. The catch is each user would need to do is stay in range, which is about 100ft, from the next member of the mesh network.
SPAN has been released as source on Github to promote further development and as a complete app on Google Play to collect further user experience. The Github repository has attracted other researchers to experiment and contribute further developments. There have been about 500 Github branches created from the original by researchers and developers.
With Batman’s networking method, you could easily have one massive mesh network split into two or four without any localized disruption, and reconnect back into a single large network just as quickly.
DARPA has tapped SAIC to develop a mobile ad-hoc network for smart phones, according to a Defense Department release. Work will take place at SAIC’s McLean headquarters and is expected to be completed by June 2014.
WAVE software, available for Android and IOS, can turn any smartphone or tablet into a push-to-talk handset. A mobile TD-LTE/WiFi router can provide connections to multiple laptops and smartphones. You’re not locked into a (non-existant) FirstNet or cellular connection.
WAVE Connections, for example, has a push-to-talk applications that runs on smartphones and a PC browser to establish talk groups. It runs on iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile/CE and can communicate across all cellular networks as well as WiFi.
Large radio towers need more electricity and are less flexible than “hetnets”.
Unlicensed networks, using Wi-Fi or “white space” radios, allow fast, inexpensive networking. On the spot. Anytime. Anywhere.
Nokia’s Instant Community works completely by using the device’s adhoc wifi, enabling you to chat and share content with those around you instantly.
Serval software is a free, open-source solution for mobile phones to communicate in the absence of phone towers. Ad-hock networks will be essential in the aftermath of an inevitable 9.0 earthquake.
Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.
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