Arduino supports a disaster mesh network project
As sadly seen in the news about Nepal these days, natural disaster and disaster recovery are an important issue everyday as anything can happen without prior warning.
What is a mesh network project? It’s a project that one can think of as a fish net, as every device on the network is part of the network.
This design avoids any single point of failure (e.g. a problem in Red Hook during Hurricane Sandy in 2011), and it allows the network to bypass obstacles, such as hills or buildings, using different signal paths. If a local shop, for example, has a wireless router that’s part of the mesh network and wants to turn off its device when it closes at night, the network bypasses that shop. When the shop turns its router back on in the morning, the network automatically reconfigures to run through the shop again.
Mesh networks can start small, with just a handful of devices, but can easily grow as demand picks up. It’s something that can be put up quickly, even moved to another location if it isn’t working well.
The EWERDIMA (Early Warning Early Response Disaster Management) project is a disaster management project, consisting of different ways of ensuring quick and effective management of painful and difficult situations. It aims at providing communities with an affordable and reliable wireless technology to have effective and direct communication available among all parties involved, especially allowing users to communicate with rescuers in real time, helping save lives.
To build this network, the project leaders decided to use Arduino boards.
EWERDIMA is made of EWERDIMA Mobile, an app installed on Android devices, allowing its users to receive emergency alerts or to press a button to send an emergency alert, when they find themselves involved in a disaster; an EWERDIMA UNIT: to be installed in different locations: houses, shops, schools, etc., customized to different wearables to enhance communication during emergencies; these units are capable of creating their own network mesh in case there’s no more network available in their locations and transmits the Emergency Alert to the Rescuers or authorities.
An EWERDIMA Unit is a wireless electronic device using solar power and it creates automatically a disaster mesh network enhancing communication between various users during natural disasters, when communications systems don’t work anymore, as it often happens during and after earthquakes, flooding, avalanches, tsunamis and the like.
Last but not least, the EWERDIMA System is what connects all those devices together in synergy. The buttons on the system are connected to robust GSM and GPRS networks used to notify authorities of an occurring disaster. But the Units also create their own network, that doesn’t need telecom networks, usually highly affected by such natural disasters, allowing users to communicate with rescuers, thus helping save lives in these sad but frequent circumstances.
Moreover, the Emergency Management Team has a dashboard to monitor different units and notifications sent during emergencies.
As you may well imagine, when a natural disaster occurs, or even other types of disasters, the first need is to communicate: communication is key to rescuers, to be fast and effective in their work and to people in need, to receive help as soon as possible.
The EWERDIMA Project is still at the prototyping phase, but it was born out of a very good idea and with the best intentions and its undergoing continues development, so that Africa will be ahead in using mesh networks for disaster relief.
arduino.org is supporting this wonderful project, but much still needs to be done and developed, and funds are always a problem with certain types of projects, therefore if you want to contribute, please go to EWERDIMA’s website or contact the Founder of the EWERDIMA Project firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Being a resident of Buirimbi, Bududa, in Uganda, Daniel was greatly affected by a landslide that took place in August 12th 2012, during which 350 people in the 5villages next to Buirimbi, Bududa district, were buried. Bududa is a place known to have been hit by landslides and this motivated Daniel to come up with an Early Warning Response tool to solve this natural challenge. In 2010, some landslides flattened villages in Nametsi Parish, burying an estimated 350 residents. Preliminary estimates showed that some 3,000 people were displaced and in immediate need of assistance, although up to 10,000 of those living on the foot of Mt. Elgon required relocation during the time of the Landslide.
by Silvia Bianchi