I.Q. Project Highlight: Aquatic Networks
ECE Associate Professor Stefano Basagni’s work is looking to create a more connected world by bridging information from the sea to land.
Professor Basagni is working on the creation of the NU Marine Observatory NETwork or NU MONET. This planned underwater observatory will enable real-time observation of scientific data, benefiting not only the NU Marine Science Center at Nahant but the scientific community at large by making the data available online.
The creation of an underwater wireless communication network enables technology for many autonomous systems in a wide array of fields, including in science, security, and industry. This leads directly to aquatic applications that could immediately impact environmental monitoring, pollution control, prediction of natural disasters, aquatic eco-system analysis, ocean accident remediation, surveillance for defense applications, homeland security, port safety, basic geological and oceanographic science, biology, and archaeology, among a slew of other arenas.
Testbeds for underwater wireless networking experimentation are being deployed both nationally and internationally to demonstrate the feasibility of newly developed communication techniques, but these testbeds have limitations. They can only function in the field for a limited time, a few weeks at most, hindering the timeliness of the collected data. This drawback also impacts the ability to monitor important seasonal changes in the underwater environment.
The NU MONET is a unique instrument to implement a permanent production-quality network for enabling a host of submerged applications. Once in place, scientists at our NU Marine Science Center will have ongoing access to real-time scientific data.
The merits of this research systematically solve the challenges that arise from building a complex communication instrument made of a set of heterogeneous components. This project will use existing communication devices and network them through a wired/wireless interconnection architecture to provide reliable data transport from different and varying locations and from an array of heterogeneous underwater devices, something that does currently not exist.
New network hardware components will be developed for enabling modular expansion of the network and to ensure reliable maintenance and ease of operation for the long term. Entire new software suites will be developed to provide users with secure and reliable access to underwater resources from anywhere in the world. Lastly, integration of computational capabilities to commercial communication units will be developed to grant flexible and modular protocol stack implementation with capabilities of network reconfiguration and programming from remote locations.
Because oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, it is a critical component of the global life support system, providing the majority of international transport, oxygen and a significant portion of food. Exploring, understanding, and sustainably exploiting the subaquatic parts of our world is paramount to the future of mankind. The NU MONET is a step forward to gaining a more whole understanding of the marine world through long term data collection, while at the same time providing networking researchers with a unique ability for developing new underwater communication protocol stacks.