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Title Robust Mobile Ad-hoc Space for Collaboration to Support Disaster Relief Efforts Involving Critical Physical Infrastructure
Authors Roberto Aldunate, Sergio Ochoa, Feniosky Peña-Mora, Miguel Nussbaum
Publication date 2006
Abstract When an extreme event hits an urban area, the efficiency and effectiveness of the first response and the
vulnerability of the civil infrastructure systems have a profound effect on disaster relief efforts. The
redefinition of the civil engineers’ role and responsibilities along with an enhanced collaboration between
disaster relief organizations will greatly improve first response efforts and the securing of affected
infrastructures. In order to improve collaboration efforts, the currently utilized medium needs to be
modified due to its low availability, the impossibility of storing, retrieving and transferring digital
information, and because of its lack of support to implement information dissemination policies. This paper
presents a reliable, transparent, and portable Mobile Ad-hoc Space for Collaboration (MASC) based on a
short range wireless communication platform to address these limitations. MASC meets the requirements of
the disaster setting, thus allowing for more effective collaboration among first responders, and supporting
the redefined role for civil engineers as fourth responders. The system was designed around a robust data
redundancy core, and tested through software simulations and by conducting a search and rescue exercise
with civil engineers and firefighters. The simulation results highlight that the number of machines, the
replication level, the size of the replication unit, and the wireless communication range are the key design
elements of the system in order to achieve high availability. Moreover, the results suggests that it is
possible to build a system exhibiting 98% of availability in square areas where the side length is about three
times the wireless communication range of a traditional team of first responders. Furthermore, the search
and rescue exercise allowed this research to confirm the availability simulation results and to demonstrate
that the Mobile Ad-hoc Space for Collaboration is also portable among different devices, transparent to first
responders, and able to adequately manage and disseminate information in disaster scenarios. These
encouraging results allow this research effort to conclude that MASC is able to address these new
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Pages 13-27
Volume 20
Journal name ASCE Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering