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Solana Networks

Increased military security through communications

Headshot of Shahram HeydariSolana Networks, a leading startup company based in Nepean, Ontario that specializes in developing network and security monitoring products, wanted to develop a situational awareness product for wireless networks but didn’t have the resources or the time. Thanks to Dr. Shahram Heydari, assistant professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and a group of undergraduate and graduate students, Solana now has a proof of concept of this technology.

Communications devices such as GPS and WiFi localization technologies are already being used in the field. Solana’s goal was to develop a system that would be able to discover, visualize and map trusted moving wireless nodes in real time.

Through market research and industry connections, Nabil Seddigh, President of Solana Networks, found this technology would be of interest to the defence industry because it could be used by tactical units looking to maintain communication and location awareness.

Dr. Heydari has a background in network design, telecommunication protocols and network protection, so collaboration between the two was a natural fit.

To help with the costs of the project, they applied for a grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through its Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) Initiative. ARC aims to accelerate innovation and improve productivity for globally competitive southwestern Ontario companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. FedDev Ontario accomplishes this by providing funding to universities so faculty and students can work directly with industry businesses on innovative projects.

Once the funding was secured, Dr. Heydari recruited students to complete research on simulated networks and create a proof of concept.

Z.M. Faizul Islam, then a student in UOIT’s Master of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering program, was directly involved in the project and worked on-site at Solana Networks for two months. Islam completed his master’s thesis based on his involvement with the project.

Additionally, two UOIT students were also hired to assist with the development and testing of the proof of concept: Ali Najafizadeh, a Master of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering student and Jared Fisher, a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering student.

Under the supervision of Dr. Heydari, the students researched and developed algorithms to create a simulation of what the system would look like and what the limitations would be.

By completion of the FedDev Ontario project, they had discovered that a breakdown in communication is more likely to occur if there are fewer anchors. The research also showed that minimal bandwidth or a lack of GPS connection were major factors in maintaining a reliable connection.

Although the technology is not ready to be commercialized, Seddigh said he is pleased with the proof of concept because now Solana has a system that is able to indicate the limitations needed to be considered when moving forward, a task the Solana would have been unable to complete on their own. 

Dr. Heydari said the collaboration with an industry partner was also a valuable experience for both his students and Solana Networks.

“The students had to come up with the strategy, create a proof of concept based on simulation, and then test it according to the needs of an industry business. It was a very hands-on project,” he explained.
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