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Data from: Lost in the woods: Forest vegetation, and not topography, most affects the connectivity of mesh radio networks for public safety

Real-time data- and location-sharing using mesh networking radios paired with smartphones may improve situational awareness and safety in remote environments lacking communications infrastructure. Despite being increasingly used for wildland fire and public safety applications, there has been little formal evaluation of the network connectivity of these devices. The objectives of this study were to 1) characterize the connectivity of mesh networks in variable forest and topographic conditions; 2) evaluate the abilities of lidar and satellite remote sensing data to predict connectivity; and 3) assess the relative importance of the predictive metrics. A large field experiment was conducted to test the connectivity of a network of one mobile and five stationary goTenna Pro mesh radios on 24 Public Land Survey System sections approximately 260 ha in area in northern Idaho. Dirichlet regression was used to predict connectivity using 1) both lidar- and satellite-derived metrics (LIDSAT); 2) lidar-derived metrics only (LID); and 3) satellite-derived metrics only (SAT). On average the full network was connected only 32.6% of the time (range: 0% to 90.5%) and the mobile goTenna was disconnected from all other devices 18.2% of the time (range: 0% to 44.5%). RMSE for the six connectivity levels ranged from 0.101 to 0.314 for the LIDSAT model, from 0.103 to 0.310 for the LID model, and from 0.121 to 0.313 for the SAT model. Vegetation-related metrics affected connectivity more than topography. Developed models may be used to predict the connectivity of real-time mesh networks over large spatial extents using remote sensing data in order to forecast how well similar networks are expected to perform for wildland firefighting, forestry, and public safety applications. However, safety professionals should be aware of the impacts of vegetation on connectivity.
Data Use
License: CC-BY
Recommended Citation: Zimbelman, E., & Keefe, R. (2022). Data from: Lost in the woods: Forest vegetation, and not topography, most affects the connectivity of mesh radio networks for public safety (Version 1.0) [Data set]. University of Idaho.

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((-116.61 45.28, -116.61 46.91, -115.57 46.91, -115.57 45.28))
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
northwestern Idaho, USA
Temporal Coverage
Saturday, October 29, 2016 - 00:00 to Friday, November 1, 2019 - 00:00
English (United States)
Each row in the LIDSAT, LID, and SAT datasets represents data summarized for a Public Land Survey System (PLSS) section, each of which are approximately one square mile in size.
Eloise G. Zimbelman and Robert F. Keefe
Contact Name
Eloise Zimbelman
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Data available on:: 
Thursday, May 19, 2022