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The Georgia Institute of Technology has recently stated in a media release that according to a study it’s conducted, edge computing and fog networks must be programmed to kick in when the internet fails during disasters. This will enable emergency managers to know impacted civilians’ location data, social networking images and tweets and use them to gain situational awareness of scenes.

Mobile phones and other devices should continue to collect social sensor data during these events, but instead of attempting to send it to the social network which is unavailable due to the outage the devices should divert the data to local hardened resources.

“Using computing power built into mobile phones, routers and other hardware to create a network, emergency managers and first responders will be able to share and act on information gathered from people impacted by hurricanes, tornados, floods and other disasters,” the media release stated. The researchers’ idea, is to offload this highly useful intelligence locally so that it can be turned into real-time human density maps of inundated flooded areas, for example.

According to networkworld.com, the institute cited surveillance cameras, embedded pavement sensors and smartphones with increasing amounts of processing power as being suitable edge-processing mediums.

“This ability will give a huge advantage to first responders,” Georgia tech says of its idea.

One key to making it all work, the researchers say, is to get the social sensors to perform the edge computing — the aggregation of information and filtering lowers the data overhead requirements. That’s something a powerful smartphone should be able to do.

And the cloud is still involved — it runs updates, setup and so on for the components when internet is available.

“We believe fog computing can become a potent enabler of decentralized, local social sensing services,” the researchers say.