Pakistani Researchers Develop a Portable Solar-Powered Mobile Network for Use in Natural Catastrophes

A portable solar-powered mobile phone network, “Rescue Base Station” (RBS) has been developed by Pakistani Researchers. The portable device will be really helpful during natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, when communication will not be possible.

Researchers at the Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore, in collaboration with a team from the University of California, have developed a prototype “Rescue Base Station” (RBS) for Pakistan. RBS will be the country’s first emergency telecom system that would function on regular cell phones.

“When the RBS is installed in a disaster-struck area, people automatically start receiving its signals on their mobile phones. They can manually choose it and then call, send messages and even browse (internet) data free of charge.”

Said Umar Saif, ITU vice chancellor and an adviser to the project.

Pakistani researchers develop a portable solar-powered mobile network for use in natural catastrophes like floods and earthquakes when regular communications are often disrupted

The RBS is a lightweight, rectangular box an antenna, a signal amplifier and a battery, which is handy and can even be dropped by helicopter in hard-to-reach disaster zones. The RBS has a solar panel which helps to keep it working in areas without electricity. A communications system like this will be able to save lives when disasters occur by connecting survivors with rescue personals and government officials.

The RBS has yet to be made functional, but the ITU expects it to be used in the next six to eight months in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority and a local telecom company.

Mr Saif told that the RBS signal could reach people within a 3km radius, and individuals in the area could easily register by sending their name, occupation, age and blood group to a special number.

“This helps generate an automatic database of people in distress, and eventually helps both the rescue and relief teams and the victims.”

Mr Saif said.

The RBS system users can get the information related to anything when they demand for it like blood group or fire fighters etc in just a few seconds by sending a text message to numbers appearing on their cell phone.

Mr Ibrahim Ghaznavi an ITU researcher and one of the RBS developers said that the expenses to develop RBS is around $6,000, and the Pakistan prototype has been funded by a Google Faculty Research Award.

He said that the RBS team is now working with Endaga, a US-based company that links rural areas through small-scale independent cellular networks to commercialize the project.

The goal of the partnership is to help phone companies keep their communications systems functioning in a disaster until their regular networks are restored.

Also ReadPITB Introduces Flood Monitoring System via m-Governance

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