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New system to restore communications post-disaster

Disaster relief news

Researcher

Ron Austin

Background

Academics at Birmingham City University are currently devising a new portable system which allows communications to be restored in the wake of a disaster, helping direct survivors to safety. Around 90 per cent of live rescues are made during the 'golden 24 hours' following an incident, but it takes around two days to ship to a disaster site. This new system could help save lives by plugging a gap during that critical window and allowing communication with emergency services and survivors until full-scale systems can be restored.

Method

The network runs using Raspberry Pi computer development boards, which can be linked together to form a bespoke setup, tailored to the needs of a site, which could also be used to monitor environmental factors like earthquake aftershocks and tsunami second waves. With the first 24 hours being crucial in terms of saving lives post-disaster, the new system will be easy to move and position, with first responders able to transport the system in a single box or briefcase to the site and instantly set up the communications system.

Aims

The device will plug a crucial gap in systems such as telephone, GPS and internet links during the first 24 hours following a disaster. The system will eliminate the reliance on heavy-duty equipment, provide an expendable network, provide internet and telephone services, help direct survivors to areas and safety and monitor the environment for key factors.