Washington, November 25 : Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University say that they have devised a way to detect and report in real time Internet network problems that often go unnoticed, and annoy netizens as well as business houses.
The researchers say that their Network Early Warning System (NEWS) can help solve such problems.
Growing network problems often irritate internet users, and may drive thousands of potential customers away from the site providing the feed.
Determining the existence of network anomalies is important because the Internet does not have an overall monitoring system.
The existing monitoring systems try to identify network anomalies, but they cannot tell whether individual users are actually experiencing problems.
Fabian Bustamante, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and doctoral student David Choffnes, say that netizens can very efficiently and accurately detect where problems occur in real time by sharing sharing high-level information about their experience.
The researchers are exploiting this observation to build a participatory approach to detecting, isolating and reporting network anomalies: the NEWS.
"You can think of it as crowd sourcing network monitoring," said Bustamante.
The researcher duo has overcome several design challenges to bring the approach to an Internet-scale deployment.
The team said that NEWS gathered information about network conditions from natural data traffic created by millions of netizens every day, which can reveal whether the network is working or not.
According to the researchers, NEWS focuses only on problems that affect end-users without requiring any extra and potentially wasteful network-measurement traffic, incorporates knowledge of "normal" behaviour for network applications to prevent false alarms, and confirms suspected problems by checking with other nearby users.
It is implemented as an extension to a popular peer-to-peer BitTorrent client.
The software allows users to ensure that they get the proper Internet service they pay for by generating warnings about problems in the network.
Bustamante and Choffnes are applying the NEWS approach to build other valuable services, such as enabling comparison shopping for different Internet Service Providers based on the performance seen from subscribers.