ISSN : 1796-2021
Volume : 4    Issue : 5    Date : June 2009

Special Issue: Wireless Communications for Emergency Communications and Rural Wideband Services
Guest Editors: Abdulrahman Yarali, Saifur Rahman, and Michael Bowman

Guest Editorial
Abdulrahman Yarali, Saifur Rahman, and Michael Bowman
Page(s): 295-297
Full Text:
PDF (263 KB)

Welcome to this Special Issue of Journal of Communications (JCM). In this issue there are five articles which cover wireless
networking and technologies as the most effective means of communication for public safety, emergency response and
disaster recovery operations.

During a typical day in our hyper-connected world, we can sit at our desks and communicate with the rest of the world with a
few mouse clicks or by pressing a few buttons on our phones. When you walk outside, wireless networks and mobile
phones maintain that connectivity. Even in remote areas, satellite phones or briefcase-sized satellite terminals provide on-
demand voice and data communications. We have come to depend on these systems for business, government, and social
interaction. Yet in the blink of an eye, a natural disaster, an industrial accident, or a terror attack can leave us silent and

Reliable communications can be a matter of life and death during an emergency, but as seen in countless situations
across the globe, even our best trained and equipped government agencies and first responders (police, fire, rescue,
medical, etc.), may struggle to communicate during a crisis.

It is well documented that inadequate communication system interoperability was a major contributor to loss of life in the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Further, loss of communications contributed significantly to the loss of life during the
aftermath of the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina in the USA, when much of the land-based and cellular infrastructure was
destroyed leaving residential consumers, business consumers, and more importantly, emergency response personnel
struggling to communicate.

In the U.S. and in every nation around the globe there is a need for government-led and integrated approaches to
coordination of emergency communications that ultimately becomes a fully accepted “National Doctrine” for recovery
processes based on continually upgraded and improved communications capabilities. To be effective, this initiative must
work in tandem with the professional organizations of firefighters, police, and emergency medical and rescue organizations
as well as national associations of cities, counties, tribes, states, mayors, governors, and other interested entities. Existing
communications support is focused on voice traffic. Land mobile radio (LMR) systems can provide local and regional
connectivity, while cellular telephone and satellite systems can provide national connectivity. However, data connectivity is
becoming increasingly important as part of the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure required for the incident command
system. Communications are required locally within the disaster site, within the surrounding region, and nationally (or even
globally in some cases). Mobility tools help make working remotely more productive than ever, yet a gap remains between
the information and communication resources available at headquarters and what is available in the field and at the scene
of an incident.

By combining the capability and rich content of premises-based systems with the freedom of wireless networks, and by
adding the intelligence and reach of the wire-line network, the resulting interoperability, coverage, and flexibility of first-
responder communication systems could make these IT resources among the most critical assets available in an

We are very pleased that the technology, academic, and industry communities are discussing this important issue in our
Special Issue of JCM and we are certain that the content of this SI will shed some light on this important subject.
The papers presented in this special issue discuss design and implementation of wireless networking and the challenges
faced in providing applications and services in rural and emergency communications scenarios.

1. SwanMesh: A Multicast Enabled Dual-Radio Wireless Mesh Network for Emergency and Disaster Recovery Services
This paper was accepted for publication in this issue for its rich content and its presentation of original experimental results
for multimedia applications and services to the first response and rescue team. The proposed architecture and design,
SwanMesh, could be used for exchanging the crucial information simultaneously between teams at different disaster
affected geographical locations. Using a single bandwidth and multicast operation, SwanMeah will allow smooth delivery of
live multimedia images and information to multiple clients at different locations. The application suggested in this paper is
very important and the proposed technology would be very beneficial for rescue operations.

2. Cluster-based Communications System for Immediate Post-disaster Scenario
This paper focuses on the vital need for providing communications facilities to the victims, immediately after the disaster
and prior to the arrival of rescue teams. The proposed novel approach in emergency communications enables survivors to
communicate among themselves and help each other. The authors have presented a self-organizing Disaster Response
Network (DRN) which uses the features of clustered and cognitive networks. The simulation results in this paper show that
the DRN reduces the end-to-end delay mainly by minimizing the number of channel switches in a route. The authors also
propose a hypothesis and calculate the probabilities for false alarming and miss detection for spectrum sensing by the
Cluster Head (CH) node. The paper content is very rich and informative.

3. Statistical Analysis of Broadband Wireless Links in Rural Areas
The main contribution of this paper is the presentation of a formal statistical method – a Design of Experiments (DOE)
analysis - that can be used to analyze the interactions between different variables, such as packet size, location, buffer size,
and wireless provider to understand how different factors affect QoS requirements of a real time application. Their proposed
method and their results show that the impacts of the two factors on the effective bandwidth and mean packet loss rate are
dependent on the location and the wireless card used, whereas the impact of buffer size is less significant. Based on the
analysis and results presented by the authors, If the end-user can understand the impact of such factors and their
interactions, he/she may be able to make the best selection of certain controllable parameters, in an effort to improve the
QoS of the 3G connection. This is especially important for users located in rural areas, where cellular coverage is limited.

4. Emergency Video Multi-Path Transfer over Ad Hoc Wireless Networks
This paper presents a proposed method to implement an Adhoc network with multi hop radio for emergency and disaster
scenarios since its deployment is very timely in the emergency response domain and more practically, in the area of U.S.
Department of Defense (DoD) Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) after a major disaster. The authors have made a good use
of technical illustration, visual examples and very credible references to support their thesis. Those points along with their
excellent closing argument, make this document a good article for study.

5. Robust Emergency Communications Using TxID Watermark of ATSC DTV System
This paper presents an emergency communication technique which is enabled by ATSC DTV transmitter identification
(TxID) watermark signal. Theoretical and simulation results in this paper show that the ATSC TxID watermark signal can
reach a larger coverage area and hence can be used to enable emergency communication during national disaster
situations. The Hata–Davidson propagation model has been used for analysis and comparison with other existing
emergency communication systems. It is found from the coverage analysis that the proposed technique can provide a much
larger coverage than other existing emergency communication systems. Performance of the proposed method/technique is
evaluated in terms of communicating station/node requirement and network reliability and it has been shown to have
improved performance as compared to other existing emergency communication systems. This is a very good experimental
paper with an in-depth analysis.

We are very pleased with the results of our “call for paper” for this SI and hope you enjoy this issue of JCM.

Index Terms
Special Issue, Emergency Communications, Rural Wideband Services