Where are the DARPA-funded ad-hoc wireless networks?

I made a donation to Amazon's Red Cross donation page yesterday, as I had done previously after the tsunami. The numbers don't look huge yet, but they are growing rapidly, and any such donations are a good way to support the volunteers who are traveling to the Gulf Coast to lend a hand.

Dave Winer points today to MoveOn.org's housing match-up site, a great idea. How the needy will access the site is, of course, a problem, and Cisco says it'll help out by deploying mobile communication kits:

These briefcase-size kits contain a packaged set of Cisco technologies designed to be easily transportable and provide mobile Internet Protocol (IP)-based wired or wireless data and voice connectivity for areas that have lost or do not have a communications infrastructure. This allows rapid communications in disaster or remote locations that can be set up within minutes of arrival.

Good. This makes me wonder, though, about those DARPA-funded ad-hoc wireless networking scenarios I keep hearing about, from homeland security strategist W. David Stephenson among others. Presumably I've donated many tax dollars to these efforts. What have those dollars bought?

Fortifying levees, and all sorts preventative measures elsewhere, are necessary point solutions. But when natural or manmade disasters do happen, as they always will, our ability to respond depends increasingly on the first thing that they disrupt: communications infrastructure. In all such cases we'll need to be able to lay down a carpet of connectivity almost immediately, and we are clearly in no position to do that.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/09/02.html#a1294