Device Offers a Way to Communicate During Disasters

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A new tool called “Panacea’s Cloud” could give first responders a way to communicate during a natural or human-made disaster when devices such as cell phones may not work.

“In situations where there is no cell phone signal, you can take our device—protected in a custom waterproof and crushproof case—and set up clear communications within a range of one or two city blocks, or we can set up multiple devices for communication in a larger, more regional setting,” says Prasad Calyam, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and the director of the Cyber Education and Research Initiative in the University of Missouri College of Engineering.

The self-contained communication tool provides support—wireless internet, a phone network, and internet-based data storage and processing—for first-responders in a disaster situation operating from separate organizations, allowing them to communicate in one cohesive manner.

Using smart technology, such as eyewear, Panacea’s Cloud will give first-responders the ability to relay real-time information, such as location, to other responders on the scene or medical professionals nearby.

Data—such as real-time, high-definition video streams—will populate a dashboard, allowing agencies to select and filter the most relevant information from the scene, such as an emergency room learning the extent of injuries for incoming patients. Designers subjected the dashboard to a real-life exercise and it showed high usability for those who would benefit most from using this tool.

“This system is useful for FEMA and other federal agencies because they want to improve training and protocols for disaster response,” Calyam says. “This device can also be used for medical triage, search and rescue, and campus safety, such as university police departments.”

A commissioned market research study in collaboration with EMS1.com provided the researchers with 1,700 responses from first responders who confirmed and validated that the communication tool is an unmet need in their profession, Calyam says.

The team of researchers from the University of Missouri and Northern Illinois University presented the research at the 2019 Seventh IEEE International Conference on Mobile Cloud Computing, Services, and Engineering in San Francisco, California.

The National Science Foundation and the Coulter Foundation supported the work, which is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

This article was originally published in Futurity. It has been republished under the Attribution 4.0 International license.