More specifically, the aim of this project is to develop a novel information technology platform to improve the effectiveness of emergency response in disaster areas, ultimately saving lives. In case of any emergency response, the local communication infrastructure cannot be generally relied upon: therefore, we propose a distributed, self-organizing information system based on off-the-shelf mobile devices, supported by a self organizing self deploying UAVs. This platform is based on 4 research areas: autonomous networking, swarm robotics, Internet-of-Things, and data analytics.
The project is led by the team Humanitas Solutions (HS), a Montreal-based technological solution provider focusing on developing novel solutions to support emergency responders and lead them to improve their performance. The other industrial partners are Bell Helicopter (BH), Dassault Systems (DS), and Elisen & Associés (EA) who see great potential of the mission-critical-solution and its future application scenarios in other sectors.
A typical application scenario for the proposed platform can be the establishment of a temporary field hospital in a disaster area: tablets and smartphones of first responders collaborate to establish an ad-hoc network used to exchange messages, multimedia content, or run other collaborative user applications. Some UAVs place themselves in strategic points to increase the performance of the ad-hoc local network and to build long range communication channels with other distant areas. Other UAVs may be involved in other tasks such as search and rescue operations or patrolling. Finally, a secondary ad-hoc network may be established to connect multiple sensors, e.g., bracelets that monitor patient conditions, and to interact, when needed with the primary human-based network. The large amount of data collected by the whole infrastructure can be exploited to further improve the performance of the system, perform troubleshooting and make accurate predictions about future conditions. Both application and system data can be stored and synchronized with the cloud infrastructure, which can be also interrogated on-demand to perform advanced computing operations.
Being the project leader and main developer, HS will take in charge of the project coordination and the final outcome will be in its product range. BH will provide the expertise on helicopter dynamics and will benefit from the helicopter-based platform technology. DS will contribute to the development of a 3D-based human-computer-interface and will integrate its applications on the resulting network layer. EA will provide expertise on the certification of airborne systems, and will benefit by developing strategies for the certification Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs).
All the industrial partners will be supported by three universities: Polytechnique Montreal, which will provide engineering research efforts for the project in all fields, Carleton University, which will develop the IoT secondary network, and HEC, which will provide analysis capability and research equipment for all the human factors involved in the project (e.g. human behavior analysis, UAV control interfaces). The expected outcome will be a converged self-organizing and self-healing IT platform able to cope in a seamless way with heterogeneous resources, mutable conditions and different quality of service requirements.