Title

The New Grid

Date of Award

6-9-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Publisher

Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2016.

Department

Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Ahmed Amer

Abstract

The New Grid seeks to provide mobile users with an additional method for off-grid communication, or communication without connection to Internet infrastructure. The motivation for this project was to find another alternative to Internet-dependent communication. Current Internet infrastructure is antiquated; it is expensive to maintain and expand, it has numerous vulnerabilities and high-impact points of failure, and can be rendered unusable for lengthy periods of time by natural disasters or other catastrophes. This current grid will eventually need to be replaced by a more modern, scalable, and adaptive infrastructure. The results of the projects research showed that implementing a library to allow for the creation of mobile peer-to-peer mesh networks could serve as a starting point for a transition from current Internet infrastructure to a more scalable, adaptive, and reliable Internet- independent network grid.

Development of The New Grid largely followed the Rational Unified Process, in which the development process is split into four phases: requirements gathering, system design, implementation, and testing. Most of fall quarter was spent outlining functional requirements for the system, designing possible methods of implementation, and researching similar solutions that seek to transition mass mobile communication to a newer, more modern network grid. The New Grid differs from similar solutions because it has been implemented as a modular library. Current systems that allow for off-grid mobile connection exist as independent applications with a defined context and predetermined usability scope.

We, the design team, found that implementing the system in the form of a modular library has multiple benefits. Primarily, this implementation would allow The New Grid to be deployed as widely as possible. Developers can both write applications around our library as well as include specific modules into existing applications without impacting other modules or introducing additional overhead into a system. Another benefit of deploying the system as a modular library is adaptability. The current, initial stable build of The New Grid uses Bluetooth Low Energy as its backbone for facilitating communication within large networks of mobile devices; however, this library could use any existing or future communication protocol to facilitate connection as long as a hook is written to allow The New Grid to interface with that protocol. Thus, The New Grid is not limited by which connection protocols currently exist, a property that other similar systems do not possess.

The New Grid can be used in any application that requires connection between users. The most common applications would likely be messaging, file sharing, or social networking. While developers may find a variety of uses for The New Grid, its primary purpose is to facilitate reliable connection and secure data transfer in an environment with a large user base. Achieving this goal was proven feasible through research and testing the library with a small cluster of Android devices communicating solely with Bluetooth Low Energy. Expanding this group of a few phones to a larger mesh network of hundreds of devices was shown to be feasible through testing the librarys algorithms and protocols on a large network of virtual devices. As long as developers seek to create applications that allow users to communicate independent of Internet infrastructure, The New Grid will allow smartphone users to communicate off-grid and hopefully spur a switch from infrastructure-dependent mobile communication to user-centric, adaptive, and flexible connection.

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