UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009 Page: 27
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but doing so would require system administrators to map every Ethernet jack and wireless
access point, an arduous task.
Dantu and fellow researchers will use computers to create software that can support and
integrate multiple location-sensor systems. They will then compare the systems, measuring
accuracy, reliability, cost and the energy required for determining location information.
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Dantu also is studying other problems presented by VoIP. How can 911 call centers
be secured from outside attacks that would tie up available lines? What can be done to
ensure service during large-scale emergencies? How can neighborhoods be quickly notified
of emergencies? And how can 911 services for people who are deaf or hearing-impaired be
enhanced through the use of video phones?
Karl Levitt, program manager for trustworthy computing at the NSF, says Dantu's quick
and pragmatic approach to VoIP threats has made him the national leader in this field.
"Most people, particularly in industry, look backward to deal with the threats we
experience today," Levitt says. "What I like about Dr. Dantu's work is he's looking ahead
to future security threats."
Dantu's research recently caught the attention of the Metroplex Technology Business
Council, the largest technology trade association in Texas, which named him one of four
finalists for its 2008 Tech Titan Award in the innovator category. The award goes to a
person or group of people responsible for breakthrough ideas, processes or new products.
Judge coordinator Art Roberts says Dantu has shown "a wonderful foresight" in
addressing the issues with VoIP.
"Dr. Dantu saw a problem and he took steps to solve it," he says. "He deserves a great
deal of credit for getting the ball rolling on these serious issues."
VoIP allows users with a computer and standard Internet connection to make toll-free
calls anywhere in the world. Companies like Vonage and AT&T offer the service.
But with VoIP's vulnerability to spam posing a nuisance for homes and offices and
real trouble for 91 I operators, Dantu's team is researching solutions. Paul Sroufe, a gradu-
ate student in computer science and engineering, is developing software with Dantu that
could detect and block unwanted phone calls. For example, the network could notice hun-
dreds of phone calls coming from one address at the same time and assume they were not
The researchers are modeling the system after spam filters commonly used for e-mail.
"Imagine one telemarketer making unwanted phone calls, and what a nuisance that is,"
Sroufe says. "Now imagine 50,000 computers automatically sending spam. We must find a
way to block those calls, while making sure not to prevent legitimate calls."
Phone calls won't be the only evolving technology. Emergency centers also must pre-
pare to receive text messages and photos. Eventually, someone could witness a car accident
and send a text message with an attached photo, rather than just calling, Dantu says. That
would help 9I I operators know how many ambulances to send and what sort of medical
assistance is needed.
Dantu also is working on technology that would provide reverse notifications. In an
emergency, 911 I could send phone or text messages to residents of certain neighborhoods.
"From developing new technology to ensuring 911 can find us in emergencies, these
communication issues affect all of us," Dantu says. "The way we communicate will continue
to evolve, and we must be prepared for these changes." 3
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In addition to research on security issues
and research that will lead to a better 911
system, Dantu's UNT lab is working on
several phone features that could soon be
as basic - and industry changing - as
caller ID and call waiting. Possibilities
include cell phones that regularly report
the user's location to friends and family,
or phones that will predict with 90 percent
accuracy who will call, long before they do.
Santi Phithakkitnukoon, a doctoral stu-
dent who works with Dantu, is developing
software that predicts incoming and outgo-
ing phone calls. For incoming calls, the soft-
ware will study phone habits, then generate
daily lists of predicted calls. For outgoing
calls, any time the user attempts to make
a call, a list of the most likely contacts will
pop up to reduce the searching time.
Early this year, Dantu's lab installed
the software in phones of about 100 UNT
students, who will try it out for a few
months. Dantu and fellow researchers then
will study results and make improvements.
"This will help people schedule their
lives much better," Phithakkitnukoon says.
"They can prepare for work-related calls.
They can know when their family and
friends might call. They will be able to look
at their phones and plan their day."
The lab already has developed soft-
ware that automatically tracks the user's
location and sends a message to Facebook,
the online social networking web site.
"We basically want our phones to
read minds. No one wants a phone ringing
off the hook at the wrong time," Dantu
says. "We're making the phone as smart
UNT KFSFARCH SPRING 2009 2
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009, periodical, 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115032/m1/27/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.