Building Realistic Simulator to Enhance Internet Satellite Links in the Pacific Islands

Remote locations such as many Pacific Islands face a significant challenge to access reliable and fast Internet connectivity. Shared narrowband Internet satellite links are a staple in many islands of the South Pacific. They often underperform due to the difficulties that the dominant Internet transport protocol TCP faces in estimating the available capacity across the link.

ISIF Asia 2016 Grant recipient, The University of Auckland, has built a simulator capable of replicating the demand profile and other conditions encountered on such links in order to be able to study potential solutions to the problem, such as network coding or performance enhancing proxies.

UoA satellite simulator
UoA satellite simulator

Thanks to the funds from the ISIF Asia grant, the project team developed tools to automate the experimentation process, including scripts that configure the link emulator, the “island clients” and the “world servers” (a combined total of over 100 machines), any encoders, decoders, and performance enhancing proxies.

Read their technical report to have more details of this research project at https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_TechReport_UoA_SimulationSatPAC.pdf

ISIF Asia Award and Grant winners 2017

Innovative improvements to flood mapping, health services, IoT security, traffic management and satellite connectivity were the ISIF Asia 2017 winners.

The funding recipients receive AUD 160,000 to support research and development of Internet technologies for the benefit of the Asia Pacific.

The five winners were:

  1. An app to crowdsource flood maps for disaster management.
  2. A platform to manage health services delivery.
  3. An IoT traffic classification system.
  4. Cybersecurity for IoT networks.
  5. A solution to improve satellite connectivity.

The four grants, across three categories, and one award are fully funded by APNIC, and 2018 will mark the first block of grants that will be fully administered by the APNIC Foundation.

“This year’s winners are an outstanding group that demonstrate the very high standards of I4D and R&D in the Asia Pacific region,” APNIC Foundation CEO Duncan Macintosh said.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see the diversity and quality of applications received – this year we received 188 applications from 44 economies – double the amount of economies that submitted proposals in 2016. To be able to support such activities and the positive impact they are having, and will have, on their respective communities, is really worthwhile. On behalf of the APNIC Foundation, I congratulate the recipients.”

Supported initiatives 2017 Supported initiatives 2017

ISIF Asia Internet for Development Award 2017

  • Yayasan Peta Bencana, Indonesia “Democratizing Decision Support: PetaBencana.id Platform for Equitable Disaster Resilience”

Powered by CogniCity Open Source Software, PetaBencana.id is a free web-based platform that produces megacity-scale visualizations of disasters using both crowd-sourced reporting and government agency validations in real-time. The platform harnesses social media and instant messaging during emergency events to gather confirmed situational updates from street level, in a manner that removes the need for expensive and time-consuming data processing. These verified user reports are displayed alongside relevant emergency data collected by local and government agencies. By integrating localized knowledge from a variety of sources into a single, robust platform, PetaBencana.id provides a comprehensive overview of disaster events, enabling residents, humanitarian agencies, and government agencies to make more informed decisions during emergencies. Since its debut in 2013, the PetaBencana.id platform has been used by millions of resident users to make time-critical decisions about safety and navigation during emergency flood events; it has also been adopted by the National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) to monitor flood events, improve response times, and share time-critical emergency information with residents. Learn more about Petabencana.ID at https://info.petabencana.id.

PetaBencana.ID will join the awards ceremony that will take place at the 12th Internet Governance Forum, as part of the Seed Alliance activities. The ceremony is scheduled for Monday, 18 December 2017 from 13:30 to 15: 00 (UTC +1), Room XXVI – E United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). Those following the IGF can include the event on their IGF calendar at http://sched.co/CSD9.

ISIF Asia Grants 2017

Internet for Development Grant

  • Nuesto Technology, Indonesia “Virtual Queuing System and Big Data Analytic Dashboard to Improve Quality of Community Health Centre Services in Bandung”

    Community health centres play an important role in health development in Bandung, but in the 70 centres that average 200 daily active visitors, waiting rooms are often chaotic, disorganized and inefficient. This is not just a frustration to patients, it also can encourage the spread of illness. Nuesto Technology developed a simplified queuing system (Qiwii) that allows people to: register from different channels (on the spot registration by kiosk, SMS, app, and website); gives patients an estimated queuing time; and provides real-time analytics and data to help health workers analyse and plan health development programs. Since implementing a pilot phase, average queuing time decreased from 3 to 4 hours to 1 hour on average, and patient satisfaction rose from 3 (out of 5 stars). Learn more about Nuesto Technology’s work at http://nuesto.id.

Network Operations Research Grants

  • Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand “Scalable Traffic Classification in Internet of Things (IoT) for Network Anomaly Detection”

This project focuses on accurate traffic classification in the Internet of Things (IoT). As IoT comprises large numbers of simple devices running single applications, often with little to no security features making them easily compromised and used as tools in cyberattacks, it is important to be able to classify new traffic types coming from IoT devices accurately and promptly, so that anomalous traffic can be identified and dealt with quickly. The project studies how unsupervised machine learning can be applied to network anomaly detection in the dynamic IoT environment where previously unencountered traffic types and patterns are regularly emerging and need to be identified and classified. This project involves the study and selection of appropriate machine learning and identification of those flow features which have the highest impact on traffic classification accuracy. The success of this project will contribute to making safer cyber-physical systems that are an integral component of the IoT. The research will be conducted in collaboration with National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. Learn more about the School of Engineering and Computer Science work at Victoria University of Wellington at https://www.victoria.ac.nz/ecs.

  • The University of Auckland, New Zealand “Coding Internet satellite links for better goodput under bandwidth and latency constraints”

    Satellite Internet connections to ISPs on Pacific Islands often suffer from TCP queue oscillation. The problem occurs when multiple off-island TCP senders simultaneously try to adjust their congestion windows to make best use of the available link capacity: If their previous transmissions arrived at the island end, the senders receive ACK packets and increase their congestion windows. If no ACKs return, the senders reduce the window sizes exponentially. However, this ACK-based feedback is always out of date due to the large latency of satellite links, while the queue at the entry point to such narrowband links can overflow very quickly. Our experiments in the islands have shown that coding small numbers of flows across such links can result in higher goodput as the coding conceals some of the queue overflow packet loss from the receiver. Building on our previous ISIF Asia funding, we have confirmed the queue oscillation problem and highlighted that coding is time-sensitive. This project aims to extend the existing coding software by a configurable delay that lets us send the redundancy at a time when it has a chance to traverse the link. It also aims to add further features to the software that will result in better goodput. We will also attempt an entirely different approach to coding the TCP traffic, which will be based on byte stream blocks rather than packets. Learn more about the work of the Systems Development and Evaluation Group of the Computer Science Department at the University of Auckland at https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/en.html.

Cybersecurity Grant

  • The University of Newcastle, Australia “Software Defined Networks based Security Architecture for IoT Infrastructures”

The heterogeneity of IoT devices, the underlying communication infrastructure and the different types of protocols used by these devices make the IoT infrastructures complex and vulnerable to different types of cyberattacks. The main goal of the project is to develop a secure IoT architecture by leveraging the underlying features supported by Software Defined Networks (SDN). The project will develop fine granular security policies and a lightweight security protocol to authenticate IoT devices and secure IoT infrastructure. It will investigate the use of OAuth (Open Authorization) protocol to specify credentials and security policies for an IoT device to access other devices and services in the network. The project will then validate the proposed security security architecture and techniques using ONOS SDN Controllers and Raspbian/Busy Box virtual machines and demonstrate how the proposed architecture can defend against Mirai type DDoS attacks. The combination of fine granular security policy driven architecture together with lightweight authentication protocol can help to defend the IoT network infrastructure against botnet-based DDoS attacks. It will help to achieve dynamic detection of attacks and update security policies thereby helping to enhance the security and resilience of IoT infrastructure. Learn more about the work of the Advanced Cyber Security Engineering Research Centre of the University of Newcastle at https://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/advanced-cyber-securityresearch-centre/about-us

This is the first year ISIF Asia has had separate selection committees for each category and ISIF Asia is grateful to each committee member for volunteering their time and sharing their expertise. Their technical knowledge is key for an effective selection process, to identify innovative ideas that have a solid technical understanding about how the Internet works and to be able to forecast how the innovative approaches they have selected can contribute to the future of the Internet.

The Call for Proposals for 2018 will open in February. 2018 also marks ISIF Asia’s 10-year anniversary. “The APNIC Foundation is very committed to continuing its support for ISIF Asia and is very excited to celebrate the program’s 10 th anniversary in 2018,” adds Duncan.

To learn more about the ISIF Asia program and be the first to know when the 2018 call for proposals opens, sign up to receive ISIF Asia announcements from the ISIF Asia website.