UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Using the Wireless Internet to Improve Disaster Response

Ramesh Rao, Leslie Lenert, Bill Griswold (From left to right)

Jacobs School faculty including ECE's Ramesh Rao and CSE's Bill Griswold will play key roles in the development of a Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (WIISARD). The project will build and test a telecommunications and information technology infrastructure to support acute field care for victims of natural disasters or weapons of mass destruction. "WIISARD will bring cutting-edge wireless Internet technologies to emergency disaster response," says Rao, UCSD division director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²]." It will give first responders a better awareness of the disaster scene, facilitate recording of medical data and the flow of that data to hospitals, and aid in the monitoring of severely ill patients."

In mid-October, the National Library of Medicine approved the $4 million, three-year project led by Dr. Leslie Lenert, professor of medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine. Cal-(IT)² is a partner on the project, together with a number of the institute's academic, military and industry partners and the San Diego VA Healthcare System.

Saving Lives through Internet Video Technology
Over 95% of stroke victims are not diagnosed in time to benefit from clot-busting drugs. Now UCSD Stroke Center physicians are providing immediate consultations to doctors in outlying community hospitals through Internet video technology that allows stroke specialists to view real-time patient exams from a computer or wireless laptop. Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Ramesh Rao is integrating advanced video processing and realtime cellular packet-data transport in one of the first IP-based applications for long-distance medical care as part of a $5M NIH grant led by UCSD Stroke Center director Patrick Lyden.
Real-time video of stroke exam

The prototype system will be based on thirdgeneration (3G) wireless technology developed by QUALCOMM and deployed in the San Diego area beginning this fall by Verizon Improve Disaster Response Wireless.The wireless technology (CDMA2000 1xEVDO) is optimized for high-speed transmission of data. In the case of WIISARD, that means medical and other data, including video, from local fire departments, hospitals, and emergency medical responders to a command center operated by the County of San Diego’s Office of Public Health. Other partners on the project include the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and Ericsson.

WIISARD's disaster-scene applications are based on the UCSD ActiveCampus project led by Bill Griswold. First deployed two years ago, ActiveCampus supports community-oriented ubiquitous computing applications for students using wireless PDAs, including buddy locationing, instant messaging and clickable maps with related web content. Explains Griswold: "A disaster-response team is a special kind of community, so we will be adapting ActiveCampus to help early responders keep track of their status as well as that of the people and things they are attempting to rescue." WIISARD will also include a command center with large-scale visualization capabilities. Another feature will be a dedicated disaster database that will put information at the fingertips of anyone who is linked wirelessly to the network and has the appropriate security clearance.

Improved power amplifiers for cell phones. High-bandwidth wireless spaces. "Smart" sensor networks. Those are just some of the priorities over the next two years for the Jacobs School’s Center for Wireless Communications (CWC). In August 2003 the research agenda was given the green light through 8 projects with more than $3.5 million in state-funded UC Discovery Grants and contributions from industry. Among the topical areas and principal investigators (all from Electrical and Computer Engineering, except as noted):

Power consumption
Power is a major constraint in mobile computing, and researchers are looking at several ways to reduce the energy drain of wireless devices. Peter Asbeck, for instance, is focusing on a digitally-controlled transmitter to improve power amplifiers for third-generation (3G) phones. Separately, Ian Galton and CWC director Larry Larson will work on low-power, mixed-signal circuits for wireless transceivers.

Multiple antennas
Building on previous work in the area of space-time coding, a team of five faculty led by Bhaskar Rao will explore the use of multiple transmit and receive antennas on individual wireless devices.

The advent of broadband wireless paves the way for transmission of video to and from wireless devices. A team led by Pamela Cosman will focus on how to reduce errors in multimedia transmission over 'noisy' wireless channels. Multimedia will also be a factor in smart visual environments —an application that is part of a project to design high-bandwidth (over 100 megabits per second per user) wireless spaces. The research team is led by Computer Science and Engineering professor Joseph Pasquale.

Future wireless networks and appliances will have to support richer and more diverse applications, such as wirelessenabled sensors. Sujit Dey leads a team that is focusing on ways to exploit configurability in communication protocols and handheld platform architectures, to enable the network to deliver richer services to more users at significantly reduced network cost to cheaper handheld devices. Separately, Mohan Trivedi is leading an effort to develop "smart" networks made up of cameras that can capture the visual context over large areas for surveillance or environmental monitoring.