LOST: Leading Others Through Secure Trails

Master thesis by André Silva (2014)
Master thesis by André Silva (2014)


Disasters such as those that happened in Haiti, Japan and more recently in Philippines, often results in instances of isolation, difficulty in rescuing victims, even with the use of currently available technology. Those technologies were designed primarily to aid rescuers, leaving victims with a passive role in their rescue. While it is true that such applications can enhance the performance of rescuing works, with the help motivated volunteers and even victims there are more chances to execute a successful rescue. Victims often have local data that may be useful in their rescue, such as geographical information or health condition status. Then volunteers could find those victims by following these clues.

The Leading Others through Secure Trails (LOST) project is composed by three tools designed to help victims and rescuers in post-catastrophe scenarios: LOST- OppNet, LOST-Map and RescueOppus, being the first two the subject of this work. LOST-OppNet is a tool design to be included in victims’ devices, such as smartphones or tablets, and make use of networking capabilities to create a dedicated opportunistic network. This allows victims to establish a communication channel, allowing them to send volunteers text messages, along with other indicators, for instance, their geographical location. On the other hand, LOST-Map is a tool designed for volunteers, allowing them to see the location of the victims over a real-world map. This map also allows the volunteers to personalize their view of the disaster scene, with a set of filters operating on the information received from the victims.

This document describes the engineering process of such tools, their functionalities and the rationale behind the main design decisions. Then, some studies are presented to validate both tools and show typical use cases that victims and volunteers may need in disaster scenarios. Results indicate that both tools are usable, even by people unfamiliar with rescue operations.


  • Disaster Management
  • Emergency Response
  • Citizen Rescuers
  • Unstructured Networks
  • Peer-to-Peer Communication


  1. These Android apps were developed for older Android versions. I cannot guarantee they stil work on modern devices. Source code is available for reference only. ↩︎