April 2004

Use of mapping for WiFi connectivity

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Maps form an integral part of planning. There are different techniques by which, maps are prepared, depending upon the purpose and accuracy required. The different techniques, range from simple chain and tape measurements to optical methods and further to satellite based technologies.

All the techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some gives good accuracy at the expense of time and energy while some gives quicker results at the expense of accuracy. However, GPS (Global Positioning System) is a world wide navigation and timing system, which is widely being used for mapping, worldwide. This article describes the use of mapping in planning WiFi connectivity in rural India.

Introduction

Few villages of Dodaballabpur taluka in Rural Bangalore district, were thought of to be connected through WiFi to the nearest administrative centers, in order to facilitate information exchange between the villages and the taluka headquarters.

But before the actual deployment of the technology took place, it was realized that there was a need of maps of the villages.

These maps would help in finding out suitable location for the hub, where the antenna could be placed and also in deciding the most suitable route for the moving vechile (MV) through which the data
exchange would take place.

This planning would ensure that the information exchange between the MV and the hub could be done with maximum efficiency.

Need analysis

In rural India, there is a need of cost-effective network for data connectivity where communication infrastructure is lacking. One solution to this problem could be a hybrid network architecture, which combines physical and wireless data transfer to enable high-bandwidth intranet and Internet connectivity among kiosks (public computers) and between kiosks and hubs (places with a reliable Internet connection). Data is transported by means of the mobile vechile (MV), which automatically and wirelessly collects and delivers data from/ to each kiosk on the network.

Before the implementation of such a concept, a detail map of the area under study need to be generated. Also required is the route on which the MV would travel for covering the least distance, and the region of maximum value of SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio).

This required calculating the distance of MV from the hub with corresponding values of SNR. To visualize the route of MV and the location of the hub, the value of SNR need to be plotted on the generated map so that the variation in the SNR values are known, when the MV is moving and when the data transfer can start.

Developed solution

One requirement was to record the SNR values at specified interval with the GPS location of the MV. The other was to prepare the map of the villages, under study. Finally, the collected values of SNR with the distance from the hub need to be plotted on the map of the village so that correct path of the MV could be decided. This would also result in deciding the location from which the data transfer should start so that there is no loss during the data transfer.

Software development

For the first requirement, a MS windows based software was developed which had the following features:

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