Search and discovery have become invaluable elements of the modern internet. However, for communities experiencing transient or chronic loss of internet access, these facilities are not available. This can prevent these communities from being able to promote and find and utilise local services – which together can impair economic capacity and recovery. This project seeks to add a simple fully-distributed search and discovery mechanism to the Serval Mesh.
This is a work-in-progress, that will ultimately culminate in the Serval Mesh software supporting searching for data, services and resources, without requiring internet access. This capability is being developed with isolated and vulnerable communities in mind. This leverages the ability of mesh networks to be more efficient at smaller sizes, with the difficulty of centralised approaches to adequately service such communities. Thus it is using the sweet-spot of mesh networking to address a gap in current service delivery.
The following pages document the progress to date:
These pages cover the process of exploring how distributed search and service discovery services could be constructed, with a focus on the needs of vulernable and isolated communities. Thus there is considerable focus on creating safe spaces for communities, and on services for humans. From this starting point, the second page created a scenario that covers multiple user-stories, to represent different members of a commnunity being enabled in their cooperative and mutually supportive activities through the availability of a distributed search and service discovery system. The requirements that this scenario generated were then mapped to Rhizome primitives, and an initial data model developed. The detailed data model and precise data dictionary are part of the second milestone to be undertaken. Finally, the data model was used to walk through the scenario, to ensure that the described search and service discovery services could be offered.
The result of this first milestone is quite encouraging: With a single Rhizome Bundle per user, we have established the feasibility to create a fully distributed search and discovery mechanism, that also incorporates desirable community safety and data management properties. This approach will be placed under further scrutiny in the second milestone, where it will also be subjected to an independent security assessment. We also intend to review the proposed design with usability experts, to see if there aren't ways that we can further improve the accessibility for diverse users, including those for whom written textual communications are problematic for whatever reason.