Emergency Internet Bypass Lane Protocol Impacts Response with Reliable Connectivity

We spoke with Smart 50 Awards recipient, Emergency Internet Bypass Lane Protocol, to hear how emergency response may be impacted with smarter delivery of connectivity. Learn more here:

“During an emergency, successful response and recovery relies upon actionable, timely, and reliable information flows between a regional Office of Emergency Mangement, an Incident Command Center and first responders in the field. Large amounts of data have to be exchanged to deploy successful rescue operations. The data exchange has to be reliable and timely to support the best decisions as possible.Internet provides ubiquitous connectivity to exchange data across the multiple locations. However reliable and timely delivery of critical data over the Internet faces challenges. In the event of link or other network component failure, communications over the Internet can be disrupted and the lack of reliable and timely delivery of data can become life critical.Currently the Internet Protocol uses routing protocols to discover and maintain routing tables used by the IP to route packets. For this purpose, routing messages are disseminated network-wide.  In the event of component failures, the failure information has to be disseminated network-wide to re-compute new routing paths. The Internet Protocol performance will be adversely impacted as packets may not be routed reliably. In this project, a new protocol called the Expedited Internet Bypass Lane (EIBL) protocol was developed specifically for use during an emergency. EIBL bypasses the Internet traffic from million other sources, as it operates at a layer below the IP uses its own routing structure which is very robust to failures and recovers quickly. Bypassing the Internet avoids security threats faced by the IP.”

Q: What does the term ‘smart city’ mean to you, and how does your project contribute to a larger smart city vision?

A: A smart city is a safe city. Emergencies, either human generated or due to natural catastrophe can disrupt normal day-to-day life. Emergencies cannot be avoided, but a quick response and recovery to emergencies will help a city get back to normal faster. Life casualties can be reduced. A robust communications infrastructure recovers quickly from failures and can speed up the recovery process and reduce life casualties. Our protocol enhances the current communications infrastructure, namely the Internet, by allowing emergency related data and information to completely bypass the Internet Protocol and use robust routing paths to make information sharing reliable and effective. Information security is also very critical during an emergency.  The proposed protocol bypasses the Internet traffic and provides protection against security hacks faced by the Internet Protocol.

Q: Why is the implementation of your project transformational in our current society?

A: Decisions require information and response and recovery require good decisions.  The implementation of this protocol is a KEY step toward making that as effective as possible.  In our complex world, we must look for ways to support those that help us during crisis.

Q: What advice did you receive along the way that helped you complete your winning project?

A: Our project would have not been successful without a lot of guidance from several mentors.  This included program managers from National Science Foundation namely Dr. Jack Brassil, Dr. Glenn Ricarte and Mr. Scott Turnbull from US Ignite, and of course, the ‘boots on the ground’ the responders and emergency management leadership from Monroe County, Rochester, NY and the surrounding region.  Their input informed our efforts toward the application of this protocol and most importantly, its usability by responders.

Q: What advice would you give a city community or a solution provider looking to implement a municipal-level project?

A: Our success was supported by an existing relationship with local and regional responders through Rochester Institute of Technology’s Collaboratory for Resiliency & Recovery, that specializes in the regional emergency management support and the data to decision pipeline.  While this project was a bit unique for us, the relationship was longstanding.  This meant that we were not building a relationship while we were building a protocol, and we could leverage the most benefit from the effort.   Many who are being asked to adapt to ‘smart’ technology may not be comfortable or understand its benefits. This does not mean you should not try if you are new to this, we need all ideas for a resilient community.  It does mean that you should expect to take the time to understand the context, issues, challenges and strengths that a city has to bring to the problem.  Otherwise, your solution may not become all it can be. The protocol was coded and evaluated on the US national test beds – namely the GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovation) test beds and compared with Internet protocol using the current status quo routing protocols, and our protocol that bypassed the Internet Protocol and adopted its own routing techniques. The improvement in performance especially in the event of component failures was several magnitudes. The protocol is ready for development and testing

Q: What does it mean to you to win the Smart 50 Awards?

A: We believe that this protocol can provide the robust and secure communications required during an emergency. This opportunity has provided us a venue where our project/protocol will get the visibility and a chance to garner interest from network equipment vendors, service providers to evaluate the technology and improve city safety. Fundamentally, we believe that this protocol will  truly make a difference to the local and regional community, particularly one in crisis.  This recognition helps us get that message out.