Mesh networks are local network of routers that are interconnected. Usually they are a way for communities to share WIFI connectivity with each other and in many cases these mesh networks are run by communities as a means of free Internet connection within an area, or at least cheaper Internet connection within an area. Mesh networks can also be found within companies for more local infrastructure, these are seldomly, by those active in the mesh network scene, considered mesh networks though.
What’s specifically interesting is when you take mesh networks in combination with peer-to-peer protocols, such as Scuttlebutt or the DAT-protocol as new features are enabled, seldomly else even imagined. They happen to fit very well together as the two technologies merge and creating something quite unique:
Some interesting use qualities are,
- offline communication
Communication which can happen in the same geographical region without requiring http/“The Internet”. Be that file sharing, such as in the case of dat or actual person to person communication such as in the case of SSB.
- Free Data - The only cost is the hardware, hardware similar to the ones already found in almost every single household in western society.
- More private data, less vulnerability - As the data is stored locally there’s a much smaller risk in terms of third party infringement, be that in the form of a data leak such as the facebook scandal
I’m currently looking at use cases for these technologies and have sketched out three different areas for these kinds of implementations.
Underdeveloped regions where infrastructure are not always available. Having mesh networks in combination with peer-to-peer enables for communication through WIFI and that communication can still happen.
Local communities, it’s very efficient means for communication, for example for eco villages, off-grid living - mesh networks are ideal.
Privacy / National Infrastructure Security - We are seeing a rise of cyber security attacks, specifically cyber security attacks which are targeting national and corporate infrastrucutre - taking communities and entire nations offline. Mesh networks in combination with peer-to-peer protocols could be a solution for a lot of privacy issues that we are currently seeing in contemporary society.
If mesh networks and peer-to-peer protocols are implemented, especially in combination with each other, it would be a much more durable communciation infrastructure for society. This also goes for company infrastructures and the flaws that we see - as a means for both international, and business2business espionage is happening via cyber platforms.
If companies use and communicate via meshnets and peer-to-peer it is safer and not as easy to hijack.
One of the biggest saefty issues in terms of privacy is also human errors, some of those issues are eliminated with peer-to-peer solutions. Passwords are eliminated. User IDs and device are tied to each other. A hacker would actually have to have physical access to someones device or gain their private keys rather than password accounts which is more easily cracked.
Currently there are a lot of different mesh networks in the world. I do not have a complete overview at the moment. Guifi covers most of southern Europe. Freifunk is a big one in Germany. Then we have some areas in Greece which communicates via satellite connections, but local ones.
Those are the most interesting ones right now. There are actually no examples as of now having mesh networks plus peer-to-peer protocols implemented at the same time.
In regards to specifically Sweden and the Nordic region I am in looking into this right now. I am keen to explore this as with the three target areas mentioned above. On one hand our communication infrastructure is not as durable as we would like to think. Both seen through examples as in Northern Sweden as infrastructure can be down and out for longer time periods when there is snow for example. Also with cases when there is highly fragile infrastructure which from a cyber security perspective can be taken offline entirely by a small team of 5 qualified hackers.
This research is funded by the EU fund Designscapes for exploring the implementation of mesh+P2P in Northern Europe. Any leads, potential contacts or groups to discuss implementation with is highly welcomed!
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