The PeopleNET proposal seeks to improve the understanding of human social cooperation and mobility and to exploit this in the design of efficient, secure, and privacy-preserving forwarding algorithms for data delivery in Delay Tolerant Networks (DTN). We envision an urban scenario where people carry radio devices that can be dynamically networked, by exploiting human contact opportunities, to create unplanned and improvised urban wireless connectivity, that we call Opportunistic Switched Networks (OSN). In OSNs, people become relay nodes of a network with dynamic topology and intermittent connectivity. This motivates the term PeopleNET.
The growing interest for OSNs is motivated by observing that the pervasive multitude of portable devices has a huge of unutilized system and networking resources.
These resources can be profitably utilized to support a wide range of human communications that are not necessarily required to pass through the Internet. It has been recently shown by the 2006 PRIN Project CARTOON, and elsewhere more extensively by the EC-FP6 Haggle Project, that the human mobility reflects the human attitude to spontaneously and temporarily aggregate and socialize into both stable and extemporaneous communities, that we indicate with the term of Opportunistic Communities, to share common services/content with some spatial or functional locality. This social attitude generates communication needs among people who are used to meet daily. Meanwhile, social interactions and associated contact distribution contribute to build context information which may be effectively exploited to forward communication data through OSNs in a much more efficient and scalable way than random or epidemic approaches. The understanding, modelling and exploitation of the human social cooperation and mobility is thus of primary relevance to enable a set of human interactions to be performed outside the networked infrastructure and throughout OSNs.
The project has four main objectives:
- to move towards the next generation of human mobility models that properly describe both intra-community cooperation and inter-community interactions;
- to design novel intra- and inter-community forwarding mechanisms that exploit slowly varying social relationships to provide improved forwarding decisions;
- to address trust, reputation, privacy and security issues emerging in the opportunistic forwarding process, which may restrict, or even impair, the growth of mobile social networks;
- to provide a limited in size but functionally complete experimentation that will exploit the functionalities of the last generation smartphones.
We expect PeopleNET to provide a novel approach to the design of networking architecture and protocols in the emerging opportunistic scenario. Furthermore, we believe that the proposal will incentive the growth of a new family of applications centred on the innovative notion of opportunistic community. Purpose of PeopleNET is to provide the explicit support to control part of the operations associated to opportunistic communities, and to offer lightweight security, trust and privacy solutions which may encourage users to join heterogeneous and large-scale applications of OSNs.