The National Science Foundation has funded a crowdsourcing effort to create a neighborhood notification system specifically in a low-income Syracuse neighborhood. This system would use a wireless grid to allow users to notify each other in the neighborhood if an emergency happens.
Rochester assistant professor Sumita Mishra with research interests in cyber security, data communications on the grid, and sensor networks, is managing the test system's security. Her focus will be to make sure the information that passes through the various system nodes is authenticated and comes from a legitimate source. But it's the practical application to help a community that's of special interest to her.
"Once this technology is developed for the pilot area it can then be implemented in other areas--not just in this country but in the developing world, as well," she said. "It's because this system doesn't depend on infrastructure. It doesn't require cables to be laid down or towers to be built. It is intended for the places that need this technology most, but wouldn't otherwise possess the resources for it to exist."
Project participants are trying to get additional funds from the NSF to develop a prototype and to equip the notification system with a health care component. In particular, Mishra would like see the use of sensor technology to monitor residents' health information. In the event that a medical emergency occurs, a notification could be sent directly to emergency responders.
Other projects underway in the Testbed include academic curriculum support to allow teachers in high schools to collaborate across disciplines and development of networking resources for entrepreneurs.
More information about the Wireless Grid Innovation Testbed can be found here.