HELPER: Heterogeneous Efficient Low Power Radio for Enabling Ad Hoc Emergency Public Safety Networks

by   Jithin Jagannath, et al.

Natural and man-made disasters have been causing destruction and distress to humanity all over the world. In these scenarios, communication infrastructures are the most affected entities making emergency response operations extremely challenging. This invokes a need to equip the affected people and the emergency responders with the ability to rapidly set up and use independent means of communication. Therefore, in this work, we present a complete end-to-end solution that can connect survivors of a disaster with each other and the authorities using a completely self-sufficient ad hoc network that can be setup rapidly. Accordingly, we develop a Heterogeneous Efficient Low Power Radio (HELPER) that acts as an access point for end-users to connect using custom website application. These HELPERs then coordinate with each other to form a LoRa based ad hoc network. To this end, we propose a novel cross-layer optimized distributed energy-efficient routing (SEEK) algorithm that aims to maximize the network lifetime. The HELPER is prototyped using WiFi enabled Raspberry Pi and LoRa module that is configured to run using Li-ion batteries. We implement the required cross-layer protocol stack along with the SEEK routing algorithm. We have conducted demonstrations to establish the feasibility of exchanging of text messages over the HELPER network, live map updates, ability to send distress messages to authorities. Emergency responders can leverage this technology to remotely monitor the connectivity of the affected area and alert users of imminent dangers. SEEK algorithm was shown to outperform a greedy geographical routing algorithm implemented on HELPER testbed by up to 53 throughput. Overall, we hope this technology will become instrumental in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public safety activities.


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