The absence of phone or the Internet often multiplies the problems of rescuers working in remote places. Now, a team of specialists and researchers has got together to connect rescue workers with networks wherever they are.

It may be recalled that on Sept 11, 2001, poor communications plagued fire fighters, policemen and ambulance trying to save thousands of people from the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

Some 411 rescue workers were among the 2,995 people who died in the terror attacks. Vital information from 911 callers was not passed on to rescuers on the ground because of poor communication links.

Accordingly, the team initiated the CELTIC project DeHiGate to develop a technology that would support phones and the Internet even in difficult terrain and difficult circumstances.

“Our idea was to make a sophisticated box that you could connect to all kinds of communications centres like satellite and wireless,” says Vidar Karlsen, research and development manager at the Norwegian branch of French electronics firm Thales.

Thales, which initiated the idea, roped in university researchers and the Spanish telecom operator Telefonica. They also visualised ready application of the technology in accidents on highways with poor network coverage.

Researchers wanted to ensure enough bandwidth to enable rescue workers to receive or send one another detailed maps of areas, pictures of a disaster and other graphics and images which might make the rescue quicker or safer.

Mr. Karlsen says the box which the team began developing was an advanced router, which used existing hardware and equipment. The challenge was for the team to develop and test new software to make it work the way they wanted, a Thales release said.

Telefonica developed the best way to use large servers on the move, crucial work to make it easier to roll out networks in remote areas. Its workers explored the analysis of data in real time from geographical information systems.

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