Researchers create high-speed internet lane for when disaster strikes

high speed internet lane emergency firefighter
Manuel F. Guerrero, U.S. Marine Corps / Creative Commons
When disaster strikes, emergency responders often rely on the internet to communicate and share crucial information on the task at hand. With that in mind, a group of researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology has proposed a method of creating a high-speed lane of online traffic dedicated to this kind of usage.

The team has created a new network protocol to ensure that vital communications reach their intended recipient, according to a report from Science Daily. The Multi Node Label Routing (MNLR) protocol features an immediate “failover” mechanism, which means that if a link or node fails — which is not uncommon when the network is being stressed — the data is sent via an alternate path immediately.

This protocol can run beneath established internet protocols, which means that other users’ access to the web should not be affected by its implementation.

Earlier this month, the MNLR protocol was put head-to-head with the widely used Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), using the United States Global Environment for Network Innovation. It took the BGP around 150 seconds to recover from a link failure, while the MNLR protocol was able to do so in less than 30 seconds.

Nirmala Shenoy, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the principal investigator on the project, attributes the problems with current protocols to their age. They were put in place at a time when the kind of information transferred via the internet was very different, and they’re not necessarily well-suited to its current usage.

“Sharing data on the internet during an emergency is like trying to drive a jet down the street at rush hour,” said Jennifer Schneider, who served as co-principal investigator alongside Shenoy. “A lot of the critical information is too big and data heavy for the existing internet pipeline.”

In a disaster situation, emergency responders might need to exchange maps, details of where personnel are being dispatched to, cell phone location data, video, and audio calls, and various other pieces of information depending on the nature of the event. Given that such a scenario is likely to prompt a flurry of communication among civilians, internet traffic can become incredibly congested.

While the internet becomes more vital to everyday life all the time, some of the foundational elements of its operation have been in place for many years. Research projects like this one help ensure that the web can continue to grow and evolve in step with our usage.


Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.

Email take-backsies! Gmail's unsend feature is one of its best

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.

These laptop makers produce the most reliable, quality hardware today

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 updates have been a disaster despite safeguards

After a string of Windows 10 update issues, including severe data loss for a number of users, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Windows, Michael Fortin, has spoken out about quality control surrounding Windows development at…

Here's why 64-bit (not 32-bit) dominates modern computing

Today's computing world isn't the same as it once was. With 64-bit processors and operating systems replacing the older 32-bit designs, we look at what 32-bit vs. 64-bit really means for you.

No more wild goose chase: ‘’ now leads to DuckDuckGo instead of Google

DuckDuckGo recently acquired a shorter domain name from fellow search engine competitor Google. As a result, longtime and new DuckDuckGo users can now access the privacy-focused search engine by going to

Samsung Notebook 9 Pen is back with new design, internals and S Pen

Samsung's new Notebook 9 Pen looks to be an ideal Windows 2-in-1 for creators. New features include a modern design, an updated S Pen in the box, and the latest eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

Costco members can cut up to $200 off MacBook and iMac price tags

Costco is discounting MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops by as much as $200 as part of a members-only sale. It also has deals on select MacBooks and iMacs, with optional Apple Care in most instances.

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.

Here are the best laptop deals for December 2018

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some holiday shopping for a special someone, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.