POSIT 2009 Charter

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The HFOSS POSIT project. POSIT stands for Portable Open Search and Identification Tool, a phone-based tool for search and rescue missions, scientific field work, and other applications built on the Google Android platform.



  • Antonio Alcorn
  • Gong Chen
  • Chris Fei
  • Qianqian Lin


  • Ralph Morelli
  • Trishan deLanerolle

Our Mission for the Summer

Our mission this summer is to improve the POSIT software and extend its capabilities.


Google Android

The Google Android Platform is a Mobile Application Platform that is Java based. The platform has its own Linux kernel, and applications run in their own Unix processes. The platform also has its own Java Virtual Machine, namely a Dalvik VM, which is optimized for mobile use. It has an integrated browser that is based on WebKit, optimized graphics based on OpenGL, and uses an SQLite Database. A range of other features are also available.

Android Architecture

The Android architecture, shown on the right, is commonly referred to as the Android Stack and has the Linux kernel running the baseline. The various libraries, which include the various libraries mentioned above as well as the core libraries of Android itself (which is based on Java) and the Dalvik virtual machine is next on the stack, with the Application Framework above them. The applications themselves are on the top of the stack, and they can in fact be stacked themselves, as independent activities can start other activities, with the old ones running in the background.

Activity Life Cycle

Activities run in a set life cycle, which is controlled by results passed from one application to another. The application, when called by an intent, is created and started, and when another activity is started, the current one is paused or stopped. When the other application is killed, the current one is restarted or resumed. However, if enough other applications need memory, the current activity's process is killed to allocate memory and needs to be recreated to run again. In this way, applications run as a stack.


POSIT stands for Portable Open Search and Identification Tool. It's a smartphone-based tool for search and rescue missions, scientific field work, and other applications. It is built on the Google Android platform. In a disaster situation, emergency workers can use POSIT to tag finds with location, add additional information such as name, and take pictures of the victim with the built-in camera. Finds can be synchronized among devices using a central server. Because the finds are tagged with the device's GPS location, POSIT can generate a map of markers for a given incident, overlaid with satellite imagery or street data. The project was started by Prasanna Gautam, an HFOSS intern, in 2008.

Current Situation

Currently, POSIT is working and available to the public through Google (see Current Demo) It can be run on the T-Mobile G1 Phone and can list finds as well as add new ones with pictures. It can communicate and sync with the server. However, there are many small issues with the application, and our goal this summer is to iron out these issues to build a more robust, more stable POSIT to distribute to the public. In addition, we want to implement an ad hoc network to POSIT so phones can communicate with each other directly in case the server is unavailable.

Scope for the Summer

We will begin by familiarizing ourselves with the Android development environment as well as the POSIT software codebase. Once we have the capability, we will try to identify bugs in POSIT and improve its stability. Then we will attempt to add ad-hoc networking capability so POSIT can communicate phone-to-phone.

Ad Hoc Network

One main subgoal of this summer is to implement an ad hoc network to POSIT that will allow users to connect directly with other phones in case the server is down. Right now, the phones need to connect to the server to get updates from other phones through HTTP, represented with the red arrows on the picture to the right. Our goal is to change it so that POSIT uses the ad hoc network to communicate directly between phones, represented by the black arrows in the picture to the right.

Our Time Line

Here is our time line draft

We have divided our whole summer to four major parts: Leaning Android/Posit, Fixing Posit, Testing and Implementing POSIT, Final Presentation. In addition, we are planning to focus more on learning and fixing POSIT. You can gain the comprehensive view from the above time line. Our project starts at May 18 and lasts to July 24th. A more detailed outline is below.

Week by Week

  • Week 1 and 2 (5/18-5/29): Introduction to HFOSS, Assignment of Projects
  • Week 3 (6/1-6/5): Android Tutorials
  • Week 4 (6/8-6/12): Learning POSIT / Identifying Issues in POSIT
  • Week 5 (6/15-6/19): Identifying Issues in POSIT cont.
  • Week 6 (6/22-6/26): Start building out POSIT
  • Week 7 (6/29-7/3): Building out of POSIT
  • Week 8 (7/6-7/10): Implement ad hoc Network
  • Week 9 (7/13-7/17): Finish implementation / Testing of ad hoc Network
  • Week 10 (7/20-7/24): Finish Testing / Final Presentation


An updated version of the POSIT software with improved stability, fewer bugs, and ad-hoc-networking capability.


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