Networked Systems

In the focus area Networked Systems, scientists of the department dedicate themselves to the intelligent and complex networking of electrotechnical, digital systems and thus create, among other things, the basis for the Internet of the future and "smart" cities.

Current Research Questions

  • How do electrotechnical devices such as computers and smartphones communicate intelligently with each other to form the Internet of the future?
  • How do they function “resiliently” and reliably under the most difficult conditions, such as disaster situations?

MAKI – not sushi, but intelligent communication networks for the future

Picture: SFB MAKI

Humans constructed language, not for the sake of speaking, but to enable an efficient exchange of information between different people. We evolved from sounds to words, from words to meaningful sentences.

Some people, however, may consider the variety of exchanges to be an obstacle, for example, due to the barriers that arise when people do not communicate with each other in the same language. But it is precisely the existence of different expressions that makes possible a wide repertoire of meanings that could possibly not be covered by a single language.

This is something like the situation with communication systems on the internet: More and more mechanisms are developing that enable the exchange of information, but this can also make communication more difficult.

The variety of mechanisms and the different technologies associated with them are becoming increasingly unmanageable. Examples include Bluetooth, LTE and Wi-Fi, all of which enable wireless connectivity but use different paths. This can lead to the use of services that may not be the most efficient in terms of speed, context and quality. It would be much better if all communication networks were coordinated with each other, so that more flexibility, higher speed and an automated process become feasible.

That's what some clever minds thought when they set up the MAKI research project. MAKI stands for Multi-Mechanism Adaptation for the future Internet.

Within the framework of the research project, scientists from the Department of etit, together with the Department of Computer Science, are identifying a solution in which precisely this growing dynamism again represents an advantage for the future Internet. The main idea is to use the different paths in such a way that they can develop their full potential. By coordinating mechanisms, for example, unnecessary obstacles in the form of overloaded networks can be removed.

The “how” also plays an important role. This is where a term from computer science comes into play, namely transition. Anyone who doesn't happen to study computer science will probably raise a questioning eyebrow here. But then the term is not so completely unknown, because it also plays a role in other areas, such as politics or medicine. Which one that is, is revealed by the translation “transfer”.

At this point, let us think again of the example of languages: The enormous diversity of the most varied expressions initially represents a hurdle. But what if one could always transfer exactly the meaning into a word from all the languages that exist, which perfectly reflects the meaning sought?

This is exactly what the researchers want to do with the different communication mechanisms on the net. By adapting them to the respective context, they want to ensure a meaningful transfer of different communication mechanisms so that they work together more smoothly and therefore lead to a qualitatively higher experience.

How might this then show up in everyday life? No more overloaded networks, faster services, for example in the sense of data transfers, and that everywhere and at any time: So we all benefit from it!

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Technical University of Darmstadt

On 1 January 2013, the German Research Foundation (DFG) initially approved the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1053 MAKI – “Multi-Mechanism Adaptation for the Future Internet”. The SFB was initially funded for four years with a total of approximately 8 million euros.

From 1 January 2017, the SFB entered the second phase approved by the DFG with a total of approximately 11 million euros. The third funding period with a volume of around 15 million euros was also approved by the DFG and started on 01 January 2021.

Looking at our modern way of working and living in cities, it quickly becomes clear that information and communication technologies (ICT) have become indispensable.

Finance, transport and logistics, food and health care are organised with the help of ICT, and electricity grids and water supply are increasingly controlled with ICT. Private households, individual transport and the economy also benefit from digital infrastructures and are increasingly permeated by them. Thus, the growth and mechanisation of cities lead to complex, interwoven networks that have become indispensable for us.

However, when information and communication technologies network and control the core areas of our society, a relevant question quickly arises: How reliable are the systems? And how securely do they also function in crisis or disaster situations?

In the LOEWE research centre emergenCITYLOEWE research centre emergenCITY, scientists from etit are working on precisely this problem in interdisciplinary research teams. The goal of emergenCITY is to make digital cities as resilient as possible so that they can continue to function in emergency situations and can also quickly return to normality.

In the project, a total of 70 scientists from different disciplines conduct research hand in hand: while disciplines such as computer science, electrical and information technology and mechanical engineering work on technical solutions, architecture, history, political science and law deal with the urban planning, social, political and legal aspects of crisis situations and their management. Together, the emergenCITY researchers conduct research in the four interlinked programme areas:

  • City and Society: Here research is conducted on historical, political and social aspects of crisis situations.
  • Information: The focus here is on obtaining information from a wide variety of data sources for early crisis recognition and rapid situational awareness of crisis situations.
  • Communication: Here, resilient information and communication systems are developed that can maintain decentralised emergency operations even in crisis situations.
  • Cyber-physical systems: Here, (semi-)autonomous robotic platforms and systems are constructed for complex emergency and rescue operations.

LOEWE-Research Funding Programme

emergenCTIY is a cooperation of the partner universities Technische Universität Darmstadt, Universität Kassel and Philipps-Universität Marburg and is funded by the research funding programme of the state of Hesse (LOEWE) for an initial four years from 2020 with around 17.4 million euros.