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mesh apps needs assessment

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mesh apps needs assessment

-- Moved by moderator to Emcomm Applications - General forum --

Up to now a lot of effort has gone into building the physical mesh. But, the mesh is just a platform. Unlike, say, a repeater that comes with a built-in application, voice calling,  the mesh is useless for anything expect radio, and antenna construction and propagation testing.  Relatively little effort has gone into the mesh application layer services.   There seems to be little thought being given (or at least shared) about how people will actually use the mesh, especially in emergencies. Many groups install packages like Citadel and Asterisk and assume they will just work and be useful when an emergency hits. 

It also seems that regardless of the applications that are needed, one thing should be clear, they must be distributed and capable of surviving a break in the network. For this reason I was very excited to see K7FPV's work on the meshchat application.

If others here have interest, perhaps we can expand this discussion to explore: What communications needs will exist in preparation for, during and after an emergency and how the mesh could help meet those needs. In other words, rather than starting with the services and seeing how they can be used, let's look at what is needed and see what services, existing or not, could meet those needs.

I would be interested in hearing other's comments on this subject.

Richard - wb6tae

K6AH's picture
AREDN Centers of Excellence (ACE)

That was the thought behind the AREDN Centers of Excellence (ACE) forums Richard.  Forums would be setup for the purposes of discussing various vertical uses... with the expectation that CERT, Red Cross, RACES groups, etc, would discuss their specific needs and develop tools that fulfill their requirements. 

You're right... AREDN implementation is a bit akin to building a highway, or the Internet.  Until those infrastructures were built people didn't start to think about how they might best be used.  I do know of groups who have done fine work in the areas of VoIP, CERT damage survey and reporting, BYO laptop and cell phone, etc.

I'd encourage you to start a discussion. If you don't find an appropriate ACE Forum, let us know and we'll consider creating one for that purpose.

Andre, K6AH


Thanks Andre. I looked at the ACE topics and while the general concept would cover the discussion I'd like to have, none of the topics really seem appropriate.  How about something like Application Layer Services, or maybe, Application Deployment Planning.

BTW, you mention knowing about some work on CERT damage surveys... can you point to some projects I could look at.



K6AH's picture
Emcomm User App Forum

Emcomm User App Forum

I'd like to see a more general, non-technical description... perhaps Emcomm Tool Ideas, or General User Applications.  The idea would be to develop ideas in that forum enough to spin them off onto their own ACE Forum.  If you want to moderate that forum, I'd be happy to give it to you.

As for the CERT App, if you were to post a question to the CERT ACE forum, I'm sure Gene, WB9COY, would respond.  He has developed a cool disaster damage survey system which should be useful to all such groups.

Andre, K6AH



ok, I gave it a thought


I have given a thought to your proposal for an Emcomm tools forum and would agree to moderate it. My main concern, which is no reason to not try it, is there doesn't seem to be much interest here.  Maybe it is because most people only look at the top two or three forums, or maybe most people are already overwhelmed by just getting the link layer working or, maybe, there isn't interest (though IU hope that is not true).

In any case, let's do it and see what happens. What is the next step?

Richard - wb6tae

K6AH's picture
Great!  I've asked our

Great!  I've asked our webmaster to add the ACE Forum and assign you moderator rights.  Randy, WU2S, will contact you with a conformation.  Thanks for the help.

Andre, K6AH

K6OQK's picture
Uses for link systems...

In my case I plan on using a 5 GHz Bullet or Rocket with 34 dBi dishes at both ends as a point to point link to carry good quality audio and a control link for remote control of a repeater.  I'm interested in what others may be doing along this line and what equipment is being used.


Burt, K6OQK

K6AH's picture
Hi Burt,

Hi Burt,

No need for AREDN software there... just use the AirOS supplied with the Ubiquiti devices.  Set one as an Access Point and the other as a Station and away you go.  I'd recommend a dual-chain device such the Rocket over the Bullet any day.


kg9dw's picture
There is a reason...
The main reason I use AREDN for repeater linking is for the ham only channels in the 5GHz band. In the future I might do this on 3GHz instead, but for now the 5GHz equipment is cheaper. 
w6bi's picture
wb6tae - ping me
km5l's picture
The dawning... :)
What drives me to AREDN and prior to that HSMM? The technology, and fun of it. No offense meant to anyone here, you all have smartly and cleverly built really awesome stuff - the innovation is brilliant. But quickly I see that nothing has really changed in 13 years in terms of the use of the technology. 

What I mean though is exactly what WB6TAE wrote about on this forum. In my career I am an I.T. guy, but my specialty is business process improvement. So, as a consultant I go to legacy companies and help them figure out how to shrink processes that make them money (bear with me, this is NOT a commercial). But, I always start with "the money process" - the end to end process that builds a product or service being sold, or accomplishes something that defines success for the organization. In all commercial enterprises and even most non-profit - you start with the result you're trying to achieve. You define the product and service - and THEN you optimize the processes and create the applications that enable the success of the business process - then and only then do you start spending money on technology. Never should you hear in a commercial enterprise "hey I just installed a new MPLS network, where can we use it?"

Question: What is our target product? What is our supporting process?  I know we have the technology, but if I'm to get a bunch of local hams interested beyond the technology (that's most of them), then we must have our "killer app", and it's not VOIP or a camera - those are tools. Caveat - VOIP "could" be a critical tool in the deployment of a specifically designed disaster relief process - THAT is a version of the "killer app". You could very simply create a process with valuable information relayed in the instance of lost internet and general telephony. But the magic that makes it the killer app is the organization and procedure, and practice of the procedure with the municipalities. But that's a very simple example, we can do much better.

We need a product - saying "emcom" is not enough. We need a specific service such as emergency local distribution of food and services for any local disaster. For example - if the internet is down then there's a high likelihood that the debit system is down for the same root causes (terrorism as an example). If the debit system is down there's a run on cash and nobody can buy anything. This is not far fetched at all. Long story short - I think we need hams who are business types to get together and firstly abstract the very first "killer product and service", which will then drive the technical mission and deployment.

I'm willing to be part of that - and I'm still willing to go beyond my simple MESH installation that nobody's ever connected to, to a solution that someone wants to become involved because the use and benefit is clear. Then maybe I can convince my east Dallas neighbors to join in on the fun. I also feel by the way the ARRL needs to be on the business side of this - just in sheer numbers. I mentioned on the HSMM site that I wrote the ARRL in 2003 to define the applications but it was probably too early and was not even answered.

I hope I'm not coming off as a "know it all", I apologize if I did - I love what this group is doing and it'd be a shame to lose the momentum. I simply do not think critical mass can be achieved without abstracting the killer applications.

Patrick KM5L
AE6XE's picture
Patrick,  These are all great
Patrick,  These are all great questions and there are some other forum discussion topics on the 'killer apps' taking place relevant to this issue.   Looking at the history of where we're at in terms of starting with the big picture vision, planning it out, and executing...  We're really at a point in time where the basic networking technology and capability is sufficiently mature to enable our community to now start focusing on these killer apps.   

As an example, take a look at 'meshchat'.  However, as you've indicated these are just tools and the processes and training around these tools are yet another step.   

Also, consider the Winlink Express release and taking messaging to anther level over a mesh network.  

The time is ripe for an individual or groups to define and package a specific 'emcomm solution' that takes advantage of mesh network technologies.  The AREDN team wants to support any such entrepreneur activities.  With our limited after-work (ah'o, I'm supposed to actually be doing a paid-job right now :) ) time and resources, we have to pick which battles we fight.  

This is my personal opinion, not necessarily the view of everyone on the AREDN team.   This is 'opensource' and we all do what we want to do at the end of the day :) .  Consequently, how AREDN is used and evolves as a whole is unlikely to take on the form of a well executed business plan.  Rather, I see independent and likely small groups that have a vision and drive to create a piece of or a useful capability that the rest of the community can easily deploy under our part 97 purpose.


K6AH's picture
I get it

I get it Pat.  I also come from a IT/business process background.  I think it's easier to liken us to building the Interstate Highway System, or perhaps the Internet is a better example.  No one could ever imagine the multitude of use cases people would eventually dream-up for them.

I welcome you to join the group and head up this effort to abstract the very first of many "killer products and services."  Personally, I think BYO cell phone, and using a VoIP app connect via WIFI to call others similarly connected.  High utility, very little user-training, virtually no service preparations or hardware costs. 
Another could be text chat, voice chat, video chat... an app already in the process of being written and released.

We have a section in our forum called ACE, or AREDN Centers of Excellence.  I challenge you to help moderate the Mesh Applications ACE.  Perhaps ever setup a sub-category on "Abstracting the killer applications", or "Critical Apps" (actually you can call it whatever you'd like) and start a dialog on the topic.  What do you say?

Andre, K6AH

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