Screenshot


Google's balloon-powered internet is helping Peru during extreme floods

During natural disasters, the ability to communicate with loved ones and get basic information is vital. But communication infrastructure is often one of the first things to be knocked out by high winds, massive rain, and flooding — especially in remote and rural regions.

Massive jellyfish-like balloons traveling at the edge of space, however, are making that problem a thing of the past. 

SEE ALSO: 9 incredible ways we're using drones for social good

Over the past two months, Peruvians affected by extreme rain and severe flooding since January have had basic internet access, thanks to Project Loon, an initiative from Google's parent company Alphabet to bring internet to developing nations.

The efforts in Peru show that Project Loon could be a model for relief during future natural disasters, with the potential to increase connectivity and communication when it's needed most.

Image: Alphabet / Project Loon

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by heavy rains in Peru over the past several months, and the Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in more than 800 provinces in the country.

X — Alphabet's research division for "moonshot technologies" to make the world a better place — has used Project Loon to connect tens of thousands of Peruvians in flooded regions around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura. Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth announced the success of the effort in a blog post on Wednesday.

"Loon balloons float 20 km up in the stratosphere, and so have the potential to extend connectivity to where it's needed regardless of what's happening below," Westgarth wrote. "We've been flying balloons over Latin America and running connectivity tests with our telecommunications partner Telefonica in Peru for the last few months. So when we saw what was happening, we reached out to Telefonica and the government to see how we could help."

High-speed internet is transmitted up to these balloons, which float twice as high as airplanes and above weather, from a telecommunications partner on the ground. In the case of the Peru floods, this partner was Telefonica. The transmission is then sprinkled back down, giving users on the ground access to reliable internet on their phones in emergency situations.

"More than 160 GB of data has been sent to people over a combined area of 40,000 square kilometers — that's roughly the size of Switzerland, and enough data to send and receive around 30 million WhatsApp messages, or 2 million emails," Westgarth wrote.

About 57 percent of the world's population — or 4.2 billion people — still live without internet access, especially those living in remote and rural regions. Connectivity during disasters like the flooding in Peru is essential, helping citizens reach loved ones and medical aid. Relief workers also benefit from the balloon-powered internet access, which enables them to better communicate with each other to distribute aid more effectively.

The ongoing success of the project in Peru highlights how the use of X's balloons could revolutionize the future of disaster relief. 

Other tech companies are experimenting with similar efforts, like Facebook's Aquila drone program, to connect the developing world. Google announced earlier this year that it would be abandoning its Titan project, which was working to develop internet-connected drones.

Views: 18
Author: Regular Articles
Tell a friend
Average rating:
(0 votes)

Buy Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) Stock Ahead of Q2 Earnings

Copper producer Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) is set to report second-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings results ahead of Tuesday’s opening bell. Thanks to efforts to trim its massive debt, the... Read More

Is the Clock Running out on Freeport-Mcmoran Inc (FCX)?

With Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) preparing to release second-quarter results on Tuesday, July 25, Berenberg analyst Fawzi Hanano is out with a bearish forecast. Hanano opined, "Freeport has... Read More

Freeport Indonesia mine workers extend strike for fourth month

JAKARTA/TORONTO (Reuters) - An estimated 5,000 workers at the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (FCX.N) Indonesian unit will extend their strike for a fourth month, a... Read More

Texas Pastor Asks For Prayers and a Miracle While Wife and Newborn Fight for Their Lives

The internet is responding in a BIG way. Read More

This Mom Freaked Out During a New Kids on the Block Concert and the Photos Are Hilarious

Can you blame her? It's NKOTB! Read More

How to Make Lightened Up Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Because there’s no greater dessert combo than peanut butter and chocolate, we created these healthier peanut butter kiss cookies that are low in fat and calories, and still totally tasty. Watch the... Read More

'James Bond 25' Gets 2019 Release Date

No word yet on whether or not Daniel Craig will be back as 007 for a fifth time; film’s cast, director, more details will be announced at a later date Read More

Olivia Munn Talks About Her Experience Making — and Meeting — 'The Predator'

Actress at Comic-Con says meeting the monster was 'a visceral experience' and the film will stand on its own while also harking back to its predecessors Read More

'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets': What's the Deal With the Doghan Daigus?

'Valerian' director Luc Besson tells Yahoo Movies about making the Doghan Daigus, standout alien creatures in the movie that look like ducks, sell info Read More

Democrats hope ‘better deal’ message will resonate

Congressional Democrats rolled out their message for the 2018 midterm elections Monday, vowing to focus on raising wages and creating jobs as they vie to reclaim majorities in the House and Senate.... Read More

Jared Kushner and the politics of nepotism

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives to speak to the media outside the West Wing on July 24, 2017. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s trusted senior aide and son-in-law, will be questioned... Read More

Alabama Senate candidate uses tape of congressional shooting in campaign ad

The campaign of a Republican congressman running for the Senate, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, is being denounced after releasing an ad Monday that uses audio from a shooting that targeted GOP... Read More

Hot new job for middle-class students: manual labor

Hunched over their workspaces in a dusty, sunlit room in the North Bennett Street School in Boston’s North End, Jim Reid-Cunningham’s bookbinding workshop seems grateful for an interruption. “It’s... Read More

How do refugee students make the jump to Germany's universities?

Mohamad Taqi Sohrabi has had to fight for an education his entire life. An Afghan refugee born in Iran, Mr. Sohrabi says it wasn’t easy for him to go to school. Sohrabi was eventually able to... Read More

In Ethiopia, model drought defenses are put to the test

Battered by drought and civil wars, more than 20 million people from Yemen to Tanzania are at risk of starvation in what aid workers call the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. But... Read More