Productizing humanitarian telecommunications research: A case study of the Serval Mesh Extender

Paul Gardner-Stephen, Romana Challans, Jeremy Lakeman, Andrew Bettison, Patrick Lieser, Ralf Steinmetz, Flor Alvarez, Matthew Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The Servai Mesh Extender is a low-cost open-source infrastructure-independent telecommunications relay device developed to support telecommunications during and following disasters, as well as in remote and isolated locations. The Mesh Extender has been under development for five years, and is just now transitioning from a primarily University research system, into a mass-producible and deployable humanitarian telecommunications product. This has forced the research team to consider numerous challenges and trade-offs that are substantially common to this type of activity, including industrial design, supply-chain formation, inventory management, electronics design and manufacture, tooling for injection-molding and planning around the variability of research funding. In this paper, we describe these challenges, together with insights and mistakes made and lessons learned during the process, in a format intended to benefit other researchers seeking to productize their research for the common-good of humanity, without relying on traditional profit-oriented commercialization pathways. That is, we provide practical advice for those seeking to make the fruit of their research as widely available as possible, and as affordably as possible, for when charging what the market can bear is not appropriate or conscience.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017
Event2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) - San Jose, United States
Duration: 19 Oct 201722 Oct 2017


Conference2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Abbreviated titleGHTC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


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