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Rescue Base Station

Natural disasters are, unfortunately, a fundamental part of living on Planet Earth. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other events will continue to test the strength of the infrastructure modern society relies on, such as communication equipment like cellular networks. To effectively cope with such scenarios we have engineered a customized base station named as The Rescue Base Station (RBS); a drop-in, solar power compatible, open-source GSM communication system for scenarios where a large-scale calamity disrupts traditional modes of communication.

The system operates using asynchronously connected autonomous nodes and gathers useful information from users, eventually synchronizing this data across the network using distributed network protocols. It connects people through conventional GSM services allowing calls, SMS and smart phone features when available. The networks also provides a series of services for use during a disaster, such as intelligent call routing, attribute based search on different characteristics (name, occupation and blood group), voice-mail services, SMS broadcast alerts, and emergency short-codes, through which a victim can contact available doctors, fire fighters, police and rescue workers.

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Rescue Base Station

  1. 1. Rescue Base Station Ibrahim Ghaznavi, Kurtis Heimerl, Umar Muneer , Abdullah Hamid, Kashif Ali, Tapan Parikh, Umar Saif A drop-in communication platform for disaster struck regions
  2. 2. Special Thanks! OpenBTS & Freeswitch community Endaga, Range Networks, Fairwaves Google Faculty Research Awards National Science Foundation- NSF
  3. 3. Disasters can happen: Any time Anywhere Any magnitude
  4. 4. Kashmir Earthquake Affected 3.5 Million
  5. 5. Indian Ocean Tsunami affected 1.7 Million people across 22 countries
  6. 6. Typical Consequences
  7. 7. Restoration can take weeks
  8. 8. Problem: • Disruption of Information and Communication. • Hundreds of thousands of victims in trouble. • No way to effectively channelize the relief efforts • Communication needs: – Victims with victims – Rescue workers with rescue workers – Rescue workers with victims – Relatives of victims with victims • Race against time to save lives
  9. 9. Network Requirements - Base • Quickly Deployable • Uses Existing Phones • Off-Grid • Robust to node failures • Autonomous distributed operation – Can’t expect people to create point-to-point links
  10. 10. Network Requirements - Services • Broadcast Announcements • Connect people – Victim/victim, worker/worker – Outside/victim, victim/worker – Intelligently, as user availability may vary • Identify skills/resources in population – E.g., doctors and blood type – Searchable
  11. 11. The Big idea • Portable, solar-powered cellular base stations – Call, SMS and GPRS • Different nodes establish a disconnected mesh – Cellular network meet Sneakernet – Users as mules to exchange data
  12. 12. The Rescue Base Station
  13. 13. Inside an RBS • OpenBTS • Freeswitch • Gateway GPRS Support Node – GGSN • Serving GPRS support Node –SGSN • Packet Control Unit - PCU
  14. 14. How it works
  15. 15. Single RBS Unit Coverage Range RBS
  16. 16. User Registration • Any user can register with our network by sending the following information as an SMS to 111: – Contact Number – Name – Occupation – Blood Group
  17. 17. Example
  18. 18. Eventual Consistency • A mechanism to synchronize user registration and call record data across the disconnected the RBS(s)
  19. 19. Multiple RBS units working together
  20. 20. Why Eventual Consistency? •To gather information from the neighboring nodes and use it connect via intelligent call routing (greater the information greater are the chances of connectivity). •To boost the search capability via Attribute based search (more records synced, better search results). •So that the user do not have to re-register at other neighboring RBS sites
  21. 21. Data Packet Creation A packet is created if: •The total number of user registrations in a BTS is greater than 500 •Or the total registration records are less than 500 and an time-interval of 30 mins has lapsed.
  22. 22. • The packet deletion is only possible if the number of nodes in the RBS system are fixed • Each chuck has 2 data variables: –Hop count –Node count • If the hop count equals to the node count it means that the packet has been synced across all the BTSes and it can be deleted. Data Packet Deletion
  23. 23. Out-of-the-box Services • Intelligent call routing • Attribute based search • Emergency voice-mail • Emergency shortcodes • Emergency Alerts • Dynamic addition/ removal of RBS(es)
  24. 24. Intelligent call routing RBS Step 2: RBS called User 2 who is not available Step 1: user1 makes a call to user2 Step 3: RBS automatically calls the ‘most recent caller’ who called user2
  25. 25. Attribute Based Search • An SMS based yellow page like look-up service on the following attributes: – Name – Occupation – Blood group
  26. 26. Examples: Attribute based search
  27. 27. Emergency Voice-mail • This enable a user to record his specific complaint directly to the rescue team (in his/her vicinity) • By listening to these complaints rescue teams can be channelized in an organized fashion.
  28. 28. Emergency Shortcodes • You may directly call the following professionals at the following shortcodes: – Doctors (7777 ) – Police (7700 ) – Fire brigade (7722 ) – Rescue Workers (911 )
  29. 29. Short-code Logic Example: Doctors (7777 ) Doctor 1 Doctor 2 Doctor 3 Doctor 4 Doctor 5 Calling Doctor 1; Failed attempt Calling Doctor 2; Failed attempt Calling Doctor 3; Failed attempt Calling Doctor 4; Successful attempt
  30. 30. Other Features • Emergency Alerts: An emergency announcement can be broadcasted to all registered users ( in- range of the local RBS) via an SMS. • Dynamic addition/ removal: We can add and remove RBS nodes to and from the system to efficiently meet the variations in connectivity demand of a particular disaster struck site.
  31. 31. Evaluation • An In-Lab Experiment • Simulations – Nodes VS synchronizations – Packet size VS synchronizations – People VS synchronizations
  32. 32. Lab Evaluation
  33. 33. Lab Evaluation
  34. 34. Simulation • All the simulation are tested on the following two network topologies: • Mesh topology • Line topology
  35. 35. Nodes VS Synchronizations
  36. 36. Packet size VS Synchronizations
  37. 37. People VS Synchronizations
  38. 38. Future Work • We are collaborating with a US based company 'Endaga' to release a commercial version of the Rescue Base Station. • We plan to (but hope not to) test it on a larger scale in a real-world setting.
  39. 39. Important links • Code: • Project web-site: • Contact us at: – – –