Succinct Data

Succinct Data is a concept that supplements the Rhizome device-to-device file replication service (slow, high-volume data mule) with a fast, expensive, low volume channel like satellite messaging, to rapidly transmit the crucial elements of information collected by field disaster response teams back to headquarters and assemble it into a near-real-time situational display (eg, a map display with colour-coded pins for each field report).

Succinct Data was originally developed for KiwiEx 2013 (but not tested) to rapidly notify the simulated Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of forms entered via Serval Sam (app for Android).

Entered forms were sent to HQ via Rhizome, which depended on adequate data exchange between devices in the field and the EOC, and could take hours or even days to deliver form instances, depending on the movement and battery endurance of field personnel. The succinct channel was a satellite SMS text service provided by the DeLorme inReach ground terminal, which would carry only succinct data with the essential components of the form instance, leaving heavy data like images to Rhizome.

The elements of the proposal were:

  • Serval Sam (app for Android) would generate a compact bundle (fewer than 140 bytes) representing each new form instance (no images, some fields omitted or truncated), by parsing the instance's XML into a succinct binary form
  • A separate Android app running on the device would monitor Rhizome for the appearance of new compact bundles, and push them via inReach if not previously seen, possibly just by displaying the message on the phone's screen for copy and paste into the inReach app
  • The inReach messages would be addressed to a reserved email address
  • A laptop running in the EOC would monitor the email inbox for incoming compact messages, extract the compact bundles, inflate them into an ODK form instance, and inject the instance into the visualisation web site

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