colinneagle writes "While the cellphone network in Haiti survived the devastating earthquake in 2010, the added load of international aid workers who arrived in the aftermath caused it to crash. Josh Thomas and Jeff Robble, both working at Mitre, saw this problem and created a working prototype backup network using only the Wi-Fi chips on Android smartphones. This capability won’t be shipped on new mobile phones anytime soon, but it is a really interesting open innovation project to understand and follow, and for some an Android project to which they might contribute.
The Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networks (SPAN) project reconfigures the onboard Wi-Fi chip of a smartphone to act as a Wi-Fi router with other nearby similarly configured smartphones, creating an ad-hoc mesh network. These smartphones can then communicate with one another without an operational carrier network. SPAN intercepts all communications at the Global Handset Proxy so applications such as VoIP, Twitter, email etc., work normally."
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