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Mobile Solutions

"smarter" app to help in the event of a catastrophe

In a joint project, researchers have developed an app that establishes ad-hoc connections without Internet or mobile communications. In the event of power failure, it can forward distress signals.

22 Feb. 2018 Roland Freist
Source: Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe
Source: Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe

The smartphone app named "smarter" was developed by the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) in collaboration with researchers from the Technical University of Darmstadt and the University of Kassel. The project partners began with the assumption of a specific scenario, such as an extensive power failure following a fire disaster, leading to the unavailability of mobile communications and Internet connections.

The app then connects the telephone to another smartphone on which the program is also installed via its Wi-Fi chip. In turn, this device establishes connections to other cell phones in the area. The result is an ad-hoc network that can be used to forward status reports and digital distress signals.

In a test on military exercise grounds near Paderborn last fall, distances of 200 to 250 meters between telephones were bridged. However, the devices used had to be modified first, as they do not support direct communication out of the box. Modifying the smartphones would be up to the manufacturer according to the researchers involved. Developed for Android, the smarter app is not currently available in the Play Store.