Last week the Digital Vision program went on an offsite, during which we discussed the need for communications in case of an disaster. The key to success in the aid work after a disaster such as the tsunami last year, the earthquake in Pakistan is to set up the communications.
In case of a disaster it is important to first set up some kind of central that coordinate all the aid efforts, and collect all the information necessary. To be able to understand the needs you need to either fly in personal, possible via helicopters, to gather information and/or create the possibility to the people there to communicate with this central.
The infrastructre of telecommunications is often broken, scarce or at least unsufficient, and satellite communications is to expensive to use. A group of researchers from University of York have successfully set up a broadband link via a balloon in northern Sweden.
"The launch cost of the infrastructure is likely to be one-tenth that of satellite and one airship can support a user density one thousands times that of satellite" according to Alan Gobbi, the marketing manager of the York Electronic Centre, which is the commercial unit of the University of York.
Such a solution would open up for the possibility to coordinate the aid workers and perhaps more importantly gather information of what the actual need is. Do they need food? Do they need helicopters? Do they need water? and so forth.. Having the possibility to communicate the web would make this coordination a whole lot easier.
The full article is found in the following link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4354446.stm