Rover: Architectural Support for Exposing and Using Context

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Technology has advanced to the point where many people feel it has created a world with an insurmountable amount of information. Information includes messages people send to each other, logged data from their activities, and the services available to them. This problem has been exaggerated in modern societies by high availability of Internet connectivity. All types of information contains context, whether they have been stated explicitly or understood implicitly. Understanding, handling, and using context represents one of the most critical steps towards coping with the amount of information available today.

In this dissertation, we examine two topics: context and the design of a context-aware platform. We describe fundamental types of context associated with every piece of information and discuss issues which may occur when implementing a system which utilizes context.

We present a context-aware platform called Rover. The Rover architecture provides a conceptual framework geared towards understanding how application developers can utilize a variety of aspects of context to assist the development of modern applications. To aid developers in figuring out what context may be useful in their application, we describe the concept of a Rover ecosystem: a logical organization analogous to how similar groups of people interact with each other. We also discuss how information and context can be shared between ecosystems.

To examine the feasibility of the Rover architecture's conceptual framework, we have implemented a reference implementation of the core unit of a Rover ecosystem: the Rover server. We discuss the details of the Rover server and describe the implementation of an emergency response application which demonstrates the utility of the conceptual framework.