Anew network protocol — the Multi Node Label Routing (MNLR) protocol — was developed to improve the information flow between emergency responders at the scene of an incident and decision-makers at the office of emergency management.
Data-dense information sharing was a major issue during recent disasters, including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Emergency responders were not able to quickly share critical information. For example, in a flood event, emergency responders may need to share LiDAR mapping images, 911 requests and deployments, cellphone location data, video chats, voice recordings, and social media communications. When that information must compete with civilians tweeting about the disaster and messaging loved ones, the network is taking on more than it can handle. As a result, links and routers fail, and as the network topography changes, packets can be delayed, rerouted, or lost.
The MNLR protocol is designed with an immediate failover mechanism, meaning that if a link or node fails, it uses an alternate path immediately after the failure is detected. The new protocol runs below the existing Internet protocols, allowing normal Internet traffic to run without disruption. The new protocol does not depend on routes discovered by either Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) or Open Shortest Path First (OSPF). It discovers routes based on the labels assigned to the routers; the labels, in turn, carry the structural and relational connectivity information among routers.
The protocol was tested over the U.S. GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovation). Data was transferred using BGP and the new MNLR protocol. The data ran among 27 nodes representing the network of the incident control center, the 911 call center, and the office of emergency management.
While BGP took about 150 seconds to recover from a link failure, MNLR recovered in less than 30 seconds. The recovery metrics showed that the new MNLR protocol transferred information faster and more reliably than existing protocols in the event of network failures and topology changes.