Mesh Networks Can Keep People Connected During Natural Disasters

Tina Trinh | VOA News | September 2, 2017

Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey are a threat not only to human life but also to telecommunication systems. When they go down, entire cities and communities are cut off from each other. Mesh networks, however, can get people connected again, and during emergencies they can be a crucial link to information. "It really all boils down to the 'central point of failure' problem," said Daniela Perdomo. "If the central infrastructure goes down, everyone who plugs into it is also disconnected."

Perdomo would know. When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, lower Manhattan was left in the dark, with no electricity or connectivity. Unable to use cellular networks, the New Yorker and her brother eventually decided to do something about it. The two co-founded goTenna, a line of products that use low-frequency radio waves to send SMS text messages and GPS information.

Their latest product is the goTenna Mesh, a mesh networking device that works independently of traditional cellular networks. Originally developed for military use, mesh networks spread connectivity over multiple nodes, or connection points, that communicate with each other...