Friday February 17, 2017

IBM Creates Mesh Networking to Send Emergency Alerts Without Cell Signal

In developing countries, cellphone service is sparse and congested. This is especially true in places such as India where the population is 1.252 billion, and has a landmass that is one third the size of the USA. When natural disasters occur, such as tsunami, it is important that emergency messages and services reach as much of the population quickly. IBM developed Mesh Networking while collaborating with The Weather Company to integrate it into their android app. Mesh Networking is a system designed where the radios in smartphones transmit emergency messages to each other. Although the limitations of the hardware keeps it from reaching a wider audience than a few hundred feet of radiating distance, in a large city this would be spread like wildfire.

The mesh networking update will be rolling out to The Weather Company users in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. (You can see a full list of countries here.) That’s because it’s in these areas that traditional mobile networks are most congested, and in danger of becoming unusable during emergencies. The update to app has been optimized to be as data-light as possible, but it still has its limitations. For example, phones need to be within a few hundred feet of one another to share information. That means that people in isolated areas won’t be able to take advantage of the app, but it will be perfect for sending alerts to large crowds.