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Neighborhood Wireless Grid Project Gains Support

Rochester Institute of Technology has joined a group of other institutions working to create and commercialize wireless grid network technologies. The Wireless Grid Innovation Testbed, led by researchers from Syracuse University in New York and Virginia Tech, is developing ways to make use of content and resources present in common devices such as PCs, cameras, phones, printers, etc. connected by a wireless grid and then to find practical applications that can be enabled through their research. The project encompasses dozens of partners, both public and private.

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.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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