Undergrads Off To The Western Student Research Conference

Congratulations to undergraduate students Marshall Asch, and Keefer Rourke, who will be travelling to this year’s Western Student Research Conference at Western University later this month. The pair will co-present some of the work they’ve been doing as part of the Wireless Mobile Mesh Network research program.

The presentation, co-authored by Frazer Seymour, Nic Durish, Charlie Flowers, Michele Wood, myself, and Dr. Jason Ernst, will provide an overview of the digital divide in the Circumpolar North, and how Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETS) might be used to bridge it. This research will form the basis of the work that Marshall will do when he begins his MSc in Computer Science this coming fall. An abstract of the presentation is provided below.


Many communities in the Circumpolar North lack the Communication Infrastructure (CI) required for efficient and effective dissemination of information. Particularly, these communities have severely limited network bandwidth and cellular connectivity.

This is particularly evident in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut where the limited CI is a significant impediment to the collection and dissemination of important environmental data. To solve this problem, we are exploring the use of an alternative to fixed CI: Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANET). A MANET is a type of network that uses mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets to form direct connections between the devices using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi direct and traditional Wi-Fi hot-spots, instead of relaying through Internet Service Provider CI and cellular towers. Devices which are not within immediate vicinity may still communicate over distances as network peers forward data transfers to the correct destination. The most significant impact of this technology is that it allows users to connect to each other when and where a connection is needed. Deployment of MANETs can be done with minimal planning, using common, inexpensive mobile hand-held devices, offering an economically viable alternative to building new expensive infrastructure which is required to support traditional wired networks.

In this presentation we provide an overview of the implications of the digital divide in Canada, and describe our work with MANETs to help close the gap.

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