Public networks for public safety: a workshop on the present and future of mesh networks

30 May 2012

This briefing document was developed in conjunction with “Public Networks for Public Safety: A Workshop on the Present and Future of Mesh Networking,” which was held on March 30, 2012, at Harvard University.

The workshop was intended as a starting point for conversation about whether mesh networks can and should be adopted within consumer technologies to enhance public safety communications and empower and connect the public as well as simultaneously improve public safety. Attendees at the workshop included members of government agencies, academia, the telecommunications industry, and civil society organizations.
The day began with a series of extended introductions and lightning talks, which laid out some of the key issues facing the use of mesh generally and its application to public safety communications in particular. Later sessions included an assessment of the current state of play for these applications, a presentation on social factors that affect community adoption of distributed networking technologies, and a taxonomy of the differences among a variety of decentralized networking technologies.
After public safety officials reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of current public safety communication, the final session focused on translating insights presented at the workshop into a set of shared principles that could inform future efforts to advance the use of mesh—both as a networking technology and as a social construct—for public safety.

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