A portable mobile phone network that can be carried in a backpack will help to save lives and broadcast crucial information in disaster zones across the world.
People suffering from the effects of earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes and tropical storms will be able to make calls and send text messages when in the close vicinity to the portable network.
The ‘Instant Network Mini’ was announced by mobile and communication giants Vodafone and weighs just 11kg – about the same as 100 bars of chocolate.
The shiny new backpack is ideal for use in emergency situations where there is no mobile connection and will allow those trying to co-ordinate aid and broadcast important health messages to those in the areas.
The backpack can be taken on planes as hand luggage for those who are rushing to emergency or disaster zones and also be deployed by those without a technical knowledge.
It can provide up to five concurrent calls within a radius of 100 metres and also allow text messages to be sent to thousands of people to provide the information needed to help save lives.
Following the trend of products getting smaller as new developments are made, the backpack has shrunk in size. It is almost ten times lighter than Vodafone’s original portable network – which was spread across four suitcases and weighed 100kg.
The smaller network was developed with Vodafone Spain and the foundation’s partners Huawei and Telecoms Sans Frontières.
The case provides a secure 2G GSM network, with the base receiver connecting to a host network over a satellite connection.
However, the original networking equipment offered a much larger operating circle of up to 5km.
It was deployed in the Philippines within 24 hours of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan which displaced more than 1m people. The use of the four-suitcase network allowed 1.4m text messages to be sent and almost 500,000 calls in 29 days.
Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation, said the instant mini network could significantly benefit the working being done by humanitarian workers who need to quickly be able to communicate messages.
He said: “The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network has enabled thousands of people to reconnect with their loved ones.
“Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Mini is simple and quick to deploy and will be particularly valuable to those humanitarian workers without any other means of communication.”
Backpack image and video courtesy of Vodafone Foundation.