BITS & BYTES: ITTC's Ticket Server Architecture

Kansas City,KS (11-19-2001)

From Kansas City Star
By David Hayes

Setting priorities
(Part of column that deals with KU)

Cell phone users flooded the networks and Internet users rushed the Web on Sept. 11, often making it impossible for emergency workers to get information they needed.

Victor Frost, director of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas, and Cory Beard, a former ITTC student and currently an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, have developed a new computer server architecture to give emergency workers digital priority during disasters.

Called "ticket server architecture," the system sets credentials for users, essentially giving them tickets for access and allowing network administrators to set priorities during an emergency.

"Because a large number of people perform lots of different activities to support emergency response, not all of them have the same priority at the same moment, so some need to be given priority over others," Beard said. "For example, during the first moments after a disaster, a person performing search and rescue operations would be of higher priority over a person providing economic relief."

Beard and Frost said that during emergencies like the Oklahoma City bombing and New York terrorist attacks, a ticket server could have been used to give emergency workers priority access to wireless phone networks. During both disasters, cell phone networks were swamped by both emergency calls and other callers trying to get information about the disasters.

The ticket server could have quickly allowed emergency workers to get access to phone networks, Frost and Beard said. All emergency personnel would have received priority clearance, gaining access through their ticket.

"What complicates the matter is that not all people who need priority would be members of a federal response agency," Beard said. "Some could be local workers (fire, police, etc.), and some could be the general public. A ticket server allows everyone, regardless of organization, to request tickets for priority status."

Cell phone users would see the most immediate effect, but Frost said the ticket server could have a broad effect on emergency situations. In the future, emergency personnel could receive 3-D architectural drawings, medical information and maps quickly.

"Managing the scarce communication resources on a stressed network supporting the multimedia requirements is a continuing challenge," Frost said.

Beard and Frost detailed their work in an industry publication last month. The paper, "Prioritized Resource Allocation for Stressed Networks," is online at

For more information, contact ITTC.

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