RuralConnect Living Lab
The RuralConnect Living Lab takes research out of the traditional laboratory environment and deploys it into rural communities in the North West of the UK. Taking the research out of a laboratory environment and into the “wild” ensures the research work has a practical objective. Community members benefit through the introduction of valuable services (such as an Internet Connection), whilst researchers are gain data from realistic environments.
The RuralConnect Living Lab's first project was based on the village of Wray. Wray is an idyllic, small village in the north of Lancashire with a population of less than 500. It is also home of the Scarecrow Festival, held every year around May Day. Back in 2004, the villagers had been campaigning for broadband for some time, without success , until a Lancaster University funded project provided wireless broadband across the whole village using Mesh technology.
In late 2004 the project deployed a number of devices known as Meshboxes and since then researchers have been studying their ability to provide a reliable network infrastructure, at relatively low cost. In particular, our researchers are looking at developing techniques to improve the capabilities of these types of Mesh networks, in order to offer better levels of reliability and resilience.
As a result of this project, a number of other research groups have started working with the Wray community, including external groups (such as the BBC) who have looked at the social implications and potentially life-changing impact that broadband has on individuals and small businesses within the village.
We are currently in the process of deploying a second generation of Wireless Mesh Network which will enable Next Generation Internet access, allowing the delivery of higher bitrate services to the village. This initiative is funded partly by the P2P-Next project.
The P2P-Next project aims to build a next generation P2P based content delivery system. This project is an EU funded initiative under the Framework 7 programme. As part of this project, we seek to deploy high speed Internet access to communities in the NW region and enable them to experience both live and on-demand television delivered using peer-to-peer.