Volunteer Network in Response to Disaster Scenarios

State: Assigned to Oliver Kamer
Published: 2023-02-11


As society's use of digital devices and services increases, so does the necessity for these services, which have become indispensable for many core social services. For example, healthcare administration, coordination of emergency response teams (e.g., departments of police and fire brigade), and numerous other services that rely on well-functioning communication infrastructures. However, natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes) and large-scale cyber attacks (e.g., Distributed Denial-of-Service - DDoS and ransomware attacks) can partially or disrupt a society's communication services and destabilize its essential services. In this context, it becomes necessary to investigate how to enable alternative communication methods resilient to such emergency situations and allows for social mobilization in a coordinated and cooperative way. 


Building such a volunteer network involves tackling challenges in different areas ranging from the technical dimension regarding providing a communication platform to social and organizational dimensions related to engaging individuals to cooperate. On a technical basis, there are well-established theoretical foundations that can be explored to build such a platform, such as the field of Mobile Ad-hoc NETworks (MANETs) [1,2] and, in particular, opportunistic mobile networks as a particular application of  MANETs [3,4,5]. From social and organizational dimensions, challenges [6] arise from the lack of trust to connect with unknown people, incentives to engage people in using the network and relaying messages, difficulties in coordinating in large MANETs, and other challenges.


This thesis has an investigative character that demands, in the first stage, acquiring the conceptual elements involved in the design of such a volunteer network. Also, it is expected, in the first stage, an expanded overview of use cases and attack scenarios where such a network is suitable. While the first stage involves understanding conceptual elements and the landscape of applicability scenarios, the second stage concerns the analysis and requirements engineering to establish the functional parameters delimiting how the platform should behave, thus, refining the design. The third stage concerns developing and evaluating a proof-of-concept that validates requirements and design decisions observed in the second stage, integrated and evaluated on the proof-of-concept. The evaluation must validate the prototype into selected use cases, as observed in the first stage, producing results to be contrasted with the thesis goals.

Note: this thesis will be advised partially from IFI (Dr. Bruno Rodrigues, Jan von der Assen) and DSI/CYREN Project (Dr. Melanie Knieps). 

CYREN: https://dizh.ch/2022/07/07/cyren-zh/


[1] Hoebeke, J., Moerman, I., Dhoedt, B., & Demeester, P. (2004). An overview of mobile ad hoc networks: applications and challenges. Journal-Communications Network, 3(3), 60-66.

[2] Abolhasan, M., Wysocki, T., & Dutkiewicz, E. (2004). A review of routing protocols for mobile ad hoc networks. Ad hoc networks, 2(1), 1-22.

[3] Trifunovic, S., Kouyoumdjieva, S. T., Distl, B., Pajevic, L., Karlsson, G., & Plattner, B. (2017). A Decade of Research in Opportunistic Networks: Challenges, Relevance, and Future Directions. IEEE Communications Magazine, 55(1), 168-173.
[4] Lilien, L., Kamal, Z. H., Bhuse, V., & Gupta, A. (2007). The Concept of Opportunistic Networks and their Research Challenges in Privacy and Security. Mobile and Wireless Network Security and Privacy, 85-117.

[5] Mark DiFranco. AirChat: Peer-to-Peer Chat. URL: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/airchat-peer-to-peer-chat/id1606916296

[6] Wang, Y., & Lu, L. (2012). Opportunistic networks: Challenges and Solutions. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 35(5), 1483-1495.

 [7] Melanie Knieps, Nico Ebert, Tom Hofmann. CYREN ZH: Cyber Resilience Network For The Canton Of Zurich. URL: https://dizh.ch/2022/07/07/cyren-zh/

40% Design, 50% Implementation, 10% Documentation
Networking, mobile applications

Supervisors: Dr. Bruno Rodrigues

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