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Research to support wireless communications in natural disaster, crisis

Oct 18, 2017 • by Penn State Berks
Penn State Berks

Research being conducted by Dr. Michael R. Bartolacci, Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Berks, and Dr. Stanko Dimitrov of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada will have the potential to help to maintain a wireless communications architecture for the support of emergency responders and the affected populace during a natural disaster or crisis.

The research is part of a growing trend to seek methods to best design an emergency response plan after hurricanes or other natural disasters have hit major cities such as Miami, Houston and New Orleans.

Drs. Dimitrov and Bartolacci’s research is in response to the demand for an algorithmic method to evaluate and fortify existing emergency response plans such that they are resilient to additional stressors after a natural disaster event. The professors’ work generates a mathematical model of the existing network, and utilizes the existing system costs and capacities to design a new network architecture plan that is resilient to future disturbances, assuming worst-case scenario future network disruptions.

This method could be utilized by municipal, state/provincial, and federal level emergency response planners to strategize for expenditures to “harden” wireless communication networks used by police, fire and other emergency responders. The research has the potential to help municipalities design resilient emergency plans given their existing equipment, emergency response network and budget. It also has the potential to assist with predicting the impact of a natural disaster on wireless emergency communications.

In the future, Dimitrov and Bartolacci plan to expand their research to include other types of natural disasters and other operational constraints, such as those experienced by island nations.

Dimitrov explains, “Our vision is to help municipalities prepare their wireless telecommunication systems for natural disasters such that they may quickly respond after a disaster, but also be prepared to face a secondary disaster, or even a terrorist attack, immediately after an initial event.”

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