I am excited to announce that Mitacs has awarded the Mobile Mesh Technology for Improved Connectivity in Canada research program $2.13M to support 4 Postdoctoral Fellows and 16 PhDs over the next 5 years through 120 Mitacs internships. Each internship will last a minimum of 4 months and will require the intern to spend part of their time working directly with the Left team.
The program, co-led by me and Dr. Jason Ernst of Left, will support the development of the RightMesh platform. The platform, which uses Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth capabilities of smartphones to create an ad-hoc wireless mobile network, will be used to improve connectivity in regions of the world (such as the Circumpolar North) where infrastructure and/or costs prohibit access to the internet.
Funding will also be used to develop mesh-enabled applications that have been identified by communities as relevant and necessary. This includes, but is not limited to, tools to support communication, emergency response, and community-based environment and health monitoring. The latter applications have been identified as important for collecting data necessary to manage and adapt to the effects of climate change; an issue that is having significant impacts in the North.
This research program builds on work that was initially supported with funding provided by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). Over the past year, CIRA, through the Community Investment Program, provided seed funding to travel to Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, to better understand how the mesh technology can be used to support the needs of the community, and to begin the initial phases of implementation and testing of the wireless mesh network.
Nic Durish, MSc in the School of Computer Science, has been selected as the first intern for this research program. With the support of the Mitacs funding, he will continue his research investigating and quantifying the digital divide; an important first step for implementing and evaluating the wireless mobile mesh networking platform.
Left will provide $1.1M of the funding announced today, with Mitacs providing the rest – including a $60,000 subsidy to support travel to remote communities across the Circumpolar North.
Improved connectivity in the North will help communities collect and share the data that are important to them, and connect in ways they never could have before. This includes collecting and sharing data necessary for responding to, managing and adapting to the impacts of climate change. With the support of Mitacs and RightMesh, communities like Rigolet can continue to lead research that will improve life across the North and beyond.