Information Repositories For goTenna Mesh

#1

Hello all! I have recently been made aware of goTenna Mesh, and am amazed by the active community here. I have a personal interest in off-grid communications for emergency response efforts. One thing I have been thinking about while looking around on here is building an information repository connected to a goTenna network. It could either be strictly curated content, or a Wiki for mesh networks, capable of being updated, and accessed through basic messaging through goTenna. Chatbot technology could be used to more easily interact with the system, allowing for more natural language queries, instead of having to use a strict menu based system. These could be integrated into some of the base station builds I have seen on here.

For emergency services, my particular interest, I could see this as a source of information related to current news and weather conditions, response efforts, etc. for responders. For a civilian population, I could see these as a source of information to those affected after the loss of traditional networks capable of accessing the outside world.

In non-emergency applications, I can also see uses too. Others, feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

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#2

You’ve got a killer idea- pairing the gotenna API with dispatcher chatbot. That is genius and works using their existing setup.

1- have dispatcher chatbot monitor Emergency shout channel
2- on reciept of any message, send a private message to party asking for status and location and what the bot can/can’t do
3- if online, log info to shared document and as document status is updated by actual dispatchers send updates back. If no data, send SMS of gps and status info to responders
4- of offline, send compressed message to rescue private group chat and monitor for response codes.

I was inspired by the news report of people jumping on the Zello app and becoming dispatchers for the Cajun navy. Gotenna’s API can make that automatic and work in areas cell service did not.

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#3

All great ideas, outlined into a framework on which to build!

I have worked in emergency response in both volunteer and professional capacities from local to Federal levels. I have been following the Cajun Navy story with quite a bit of interest. Crowd-sourced disaster response is a unique take on the way emergencies were handled for most of history, with ad-hoc groups coming together and helping those within their community, then dispersing back out to their daily lives. Government led, and funded disaster response is a relatively recent concept. The uniqueness of the recent response efforts is community can now be the entire world, thanks to technology, and responders can coordinate and come together from virtually anywhere thanks to both communication, and physical infrastructure.

I downloaded the Zello app, and have listened to their efforts. It is amazing to hear volunteer first responders (many formally trained) from multiple states coming together, and being dispatched by volunteers from all over the United States to help people in a localized area. I think emergency managers will need to take these responders into consideration in future planning, and would be wise to utilize them as a resource.

My concern with this whole concept is, it falls apart if the public communication infrastructure, and in particular the wireless infrastructure, fails. They do not have access to communication gear provided to governmental organizations, or NGO’s closely aligned with the government. This is why a decentralized network, relatively inexpensive to setup and operate, and capable of robustness and redundancy, is so important. Mesh networks can provide this infrastructure.

One observation I have in listening to Zello, many people are calling in to ask for information, and the dispatchers are constantly directing people to other resources. People understandably want information, and turn to what they feel is a relatively legitimate source. Due to the informal nature of the Zello app (though not the responders using It…they are extremely professional) people will frequently break into emergency communications to ask questions about power outages, wind speeds, weather warnings, and other questions they would likely never consider directing to a more formal dispatch service like 911. This is why I envision people being able to have the ability to quickly access information, even when communication infrastructure fails.

#4

That makes sense- basically a lightweight wiki app using the gotenna API? That way anyone in range can sync the pages available to get and post updates in real time in a well known format. Very interesting. Weather updates (from a gotenna powered weather station!), road and power updates. Supply distribution locations and times. Could even allow access by GID to private pages like crew schedules.

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#5

@EmergentechRDI Thanks for sharing. This seems like a great solution to solve a relevant problem during emergencies. Have you checked out our SDK?
I feel you could use our SDK to build an app with the backhaul infra to engage dispatcher chatbots.

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#6

I am a software developer and am looking to build an emergency information repository myself. I would be happy to work with any/all of you to spec out this type of system using the goTenna API, and I have also worked directly with @gua742 doing some field testing on Mesh units. His enthusiasm really gets me excited about the possibilities, and I am proud to be a part of this community. I am not a communications expert, but my end goal is to be one.

side-note: In November I plan to deploy (non-military) to the USVI for disaster recovery and I hope to help with communications infrastructure using my soon-to-arrive Mesh units, although I will help in any capacity I am asked.

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#7

That is great to hear! Thank you for your willingness to go and help. With whom are you going? I may be interested in volunteering to, and being able to collaborate, and test mesh networking in free time.

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#8

Hi @EmergentechRDI,
I am going through Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. I know everyone else is going now to help, but believe me, they will need help for a long time. Plus this gives me time to gather resources (donated medical supplies, toiletries, coloring books, etc) .

regarding collaboration and testing: YES. Let’s !

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#9

Not my first rodeo when it comes to disaster response. Sadly, many people think as soon as the immediate threat is gone, the disaster is over, and the focus of those outside of the affected areas moves on to the next thing. I appreciate you seeing the big picture! I am familiar with VOAD. I will have to see if my work schedule could accommodate. I am intending on doing some more immediate volunteer work, possibly as early as next week, in TX. What dates do you plan on going?

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#10

Yes yes yes! :slight_smile: Visit the SDK thread for more: goTenna Mesh SDK talk

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#11

@amon last was night awesome! Any guy with paracord on the wrist gets my instant respect. (Inside joke lol).

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#12

Hi EmergentechRDI,
I plan on leaving Nov 1 and staying the entire month at least.

It looks like the goTenna team have already started heading to USVI; I’m really excited to see them get the jump on it.

http://community.gotennamesh.com/t/hurricane-irma-help-maximizing-use/438/22

Amon

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#13

I may be volunteering in TX in another week or so. Would be hard to take time off for that, then take time off for USVI too, but I will see what I can do.

I am actually going to volunteer with All Hands! Found out about them through an acquaintance, and requested information. Not long after requesting that information, I find out about goTenna, and not long after that, goTenna and All Hands are teaming up.

Interestingly, if it hadn’t been for a medical mishap earlier in the year, I might have been deploying with Uncle Sam to any number of places through NDMS DMAT (National Disaster Medical System, Disaster Medical Assistance Team) instead of volunteering. Tonight I find out another goTenna user, @Steve_Safety is also on a DMAT, through a comment he made in another thread. Small world stuff going down in the goTenna community.

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#14

I’ve been noticing that here and there too :wink:

#15

I understand; help out where you can, when you can. :+1:
Your efforts will most definitely be appreciated.

Amon

1 Like
#16

Anyone heard of the Serval project? It’s very interesting - and sounds like part of what this thread was trying to do with shared information store that syncs over gotenna.

It’s a small base station with wifi, that syncs with other base stations over radio to create an offline mesh network. Phones connect to the wifi base stations and can text, voice call, and share map and files (text files etc) with other phones anywhere on the network.

http://developer.servalproject.org/dokuwiki/doku.php

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#17

I have. Only looked into it a little bit. I may need to research some more. I am wondering if something more similar to Ham VHF packet will ever be an option with goTenna. The data rate would be slow, but good enough for basic data. WiFi range is so limited, unless a more proprietary system were setup, similar to how DJI drones transmit video and control through 2.4g and 5.8g over ranges of several kilometers.

#18

I just looked at their wiki. I will need to sign up to read, apparently. Interesting to see mention of Outernet on there. Another interesting project I have been looking into.

1 Like
#19

According to Gotenna API, 5 messages per minute at 236 bytes would be exactly 157 baud (bits per second). That’s pretty terrible by today’s wifi standards, but very usable for text only - and it can sync all the time between other users communicating, in the background, so you’re not “waiting” for it. It works out to about 1/2 a page of text per minute. So in 10 minutes, you can sync 5 pages of text of your emergency wiki (status updates, list of people at shelters, etc) across every available node. And if you are starting from scratch, or just updating data, text can sync much faster than people can type. So very usable. There would be extra steps required to “lock” lines for editing, handle collisions, “retry” when signal is near the end of range, etc etc.

This line of text from including the final (#) is 230 bytes exactly, including all punctuation, saving 6 bytes for the header of where to update page/line number/insert/replace. A single gotenna frame, sent at the speed of light.#

That line took entirely too long to get to the right length, but serves as a good example of how much information can be sent 5 times per minute by every app connected to the mesh.

#20

Forgot about compression! That line is 180 bytes compressed with the deflate algo. That’s a 22% improvement in sync speed, not bad.

1 Like