British Columbia-based Left and the University of Guelph’s School of Computer Science have announced a $2.13 million partnership with nonprofit Mitacs to support the development of RightMesh, a company using mesh networking and blockchain technology to enable offline connectivity.
The research program will support the implementation of the RightMesh platform and the development of community-identified and led mesh-based applications, including messaging, emergency response, and environment and health monitoring applications.
Supporters say that, for Northern communities dealing with changing ice and environmental conditions, the latter applications are necessary to manage and adapt to the effects of climate change. With limited mobile connectivity in many of these communities, sharing critical data in real time is a challenge.
“This funding will let us expedite our work connecting the community of Rigolet, providing life-saving data without dependence on traditional internet,” said Dr. Jason Ernst, the chief technology officer on the RightMesh project and adjunct professor at the University of Guelph. “RightMesh’s infrastructure-less mobile mesh networking platform allows people to connect with each other using the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi Direct capabilities built into smartphones, even if those phones are currently offline. The support from Mitacs will also low us to scale, improve in performance, and expand internet connectivity in other remote communities.”
The project will support up to 120 graduate student internships over five years, from universities across Canada, to improve connectivity in Northern Canada.
“Improved connectivity in the North will help communities collect and share the data that is important to them, and connect in ways they never could have before,” said Dr. Dan Gillis, associate professor at the University of Guelph School of Computer Science, who will serve as the principal investigator of the research alongside Ernst. “This includes collecting and sharing data necessary for responding to, managing and adapting to the impacts of climate change.”
For this project, Left will be providing $1.1 million in support of the research, and Mitacs will match with the remaining $1.03 million, including support for the researchers to travel to the remote communities.
“We are excited to see meaningful tech innovation come out of Maple Ridge,” said Dan Ruimy, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP. “For many years, Vancouver has been the lone driving force of tech innovation in the area, but life changing work is also happening here in the Fraser Valley. This grant will bring many great, young researchers out to this area of British Columbia, contributing their energy towards a project that helps bridge Canada’s digital divide.”