Vodafone Foundation setting up instant mobile coverage in disaster areas
The Vodafone Foundation, the philanthropic division of the mobile company, has been initiating programs to establish mobile networks in crisis areas, among these areas hit by natural disasters and war zones. The portable network is capable of working 2 hours after being built, opening up communication far more quickly than normal circumstances would permit.
The setup for an emergency network couldn’t be simpler. The components, which form a 10-foot high tripod antenna when assembled, fit into four suitcases, which are in turn light enough to travel on commercial flights. This only covers a range of up to seven miles, but can support heavy traffic of up to 15,000 simultaneous text messages or phone. This is exactly what is needed when “one of the first things you want to do is communicate to your loved ones that you have actually survived”, as put by Vodafone Foundation director Andrew Dunnett.
At the moment the team behind the initiative is in Odisha in India, setting up networks after the chaos caused by the worst storm to have hit the region in over a decade. This follows recent visits to South Sudan (aiding refugees caught up in the border war), Kenya’s remote Kaikor region (responding to famine), and the Philippines post-hurricane Pablo.