Community problems solved using GSM

1) REFUGEE PROJECT

Lat year I worked for one of the Syrian refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece. There were so many refugees that came up to me and were asking me to explain to them through a translator what their paperwork said and what were the next steps they had to take so they can legally move to the next location. Navigating every country’s legal system is crucial for all arriving refugees is extremely daunting. Apart from the fact that most refugees don’t speak english,  the legal frameworks are very different to those of Syria and other countries in the region, leaving newly arrived Syrians in danger of failing to complete the right paperwork, or missing support they are entitled to. Therefore, I was thinking of creating an SMS based legal advice centre where refugees could send their question in via SMS, and people from immigration or lawyers could respond.


 
Another idea is to provide free and  open access to internet and new technologies. Internet for refugees is almost of equal importance as basic necessities are.  They need it to contact their families,  they use it to find out where they are and figure out what to do next.  We could create WiFi hotspots in different locations throughout the country instead of having refugees  pay for more data and international plans in each place they go until they reach their destination.

2) CATASTROPHE PROJECT

I am interested in doing some research about ways that the GSM infrastructure could be improved in order to minimize chaos in a disaster situation like the Haitian earthquake or the tsunami in Indonesia. Even smaller disasters like a fire or a smaller earthquake could cause mobile connectivity problems especially in regions that don’t have a solid GSM infrastructure. Poor communication between responders can severely  affect populations from connecting with responders and relatives. The first 72 hours following a natural disaster are critical. This is the window of time is when emergency responders are most able to save lives.

Ideas we could work on:

  • Creating more effective early warning systems and inform community how to prepare
  • Thinking of what can be done to improve the resilience of the Mobile Network. Researching  cost effective and  best approaches.
  • Informing and Alerting During a Disaster – Keeping the affected population informed and alerting them to developing situations and support mechanisms is key to an effective disaster response.  An idea could be to establish like a better amber alert system for non  smartphone users.

PRODUCT RESEARCH

I looked at some products that can be used in emergency situations  and found the GoTenna. The GoTenna  pairs with an iPhone or Android messaging app. When users lose service, they can  open that app to text other GoTenna users. Texts first get sent to the native GoTenna device over Bluetooth LE, where—thanks to the circuit board, radio chips, and antennae hidden within—the gadget emits radio frequencies to transmit an analog version of the message to the receiving user. GoTenna users can use group messaging, and send their current location to contacts—a feature designed especially for emergency situations. The battery lasts about three days on, or up to a year and a half if it’s normally kept switched off.

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