New technologies in the fight against InfoPoverty

Referring to poverty of information, 'Infopoverty' is a program coordinated by OCCAM, a creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1997. InfoPoverty is an initiative that is promoting the diffusion of culture as a way of combating poverty.

Infopoverty, the beginning
Initial pilot plans were laid in Honduras in 2000, following the devastation from Hurricane Mitch. Whole areas were left without either electricity or telephone. Two villages, however, Saint Ramon and San Pedro were supplied with solar energy and with satellite terminals allowing broadband connection to the Internet.

This sudden influx of technologies served to stimulate the unrealised potential of the local inhabitants. Emphasis has since been put on encouraging development of local traditions, as in the manufacture of local arts and crafts to the development of agriculture. The focus was later placed on how satcom based solutions such as e-learning, telemedicine, e-commerce and e-government could play a role.

So far, three agencies have joined and are supporting the Infopoverty initiative: ESA, NASA and CNES. The three agencies will supply some of the satellite telecommunication systems and connectivity services with its inherent lack of dependency on terrestrial based infrastructures.

Three roles
One such example is the ESA TCV (image right), which was one of four displays in Milan. The Transportable Communication Vehicle is equipped with a Ku-band antenna and is an easily deployable communication system that can be quickly set-up in areas with degraded infrastructure, such as after a natural disaster when the terrestrial infrastructure has been destroyed, or otherwise where a network is to be deployed in absence of a proper ground backbone to quickly fill the gap, as is often the case in emerging countries.

ESA Transportable Communications Vehicle

ESA in particular is very active in developing and validating the use of satellites for disaster management and capacity building. The first one is perhaps, the single clearest example of the benefits of satellite technologies and is in keeping with ESA's commitment, as emphasised in its International Charter.

Another project demonstrated in Milan, was the highly successful REMSAT 2 (Real-time Emergency Management via Satellite). REMSAT 2 combines Earth Observation and Navigation data, and provides this to emergency crews so that they can better cope with the high demands placed upon them during disaster relief operations. Videos of REMSAT 2 during field deployments of the system in the wildfire and flood domains were also on display during the event.

DVB-RCS demo

The demonstrations in Milan included displays of the equipment which makes up a local area network connected through a DVB-RCS satellite link to Internet (image left). Such types of satellite services based on standardised European technology are today available to provide remote areas and communities with Internet access.

While connectivity is key to Infopoverty, Telemedicine and Distance Learning also hold pivotal applications roles. Today, Telemedicine is proving to make a practical and effective contribution to health care. "At ESA we have invested a lot in projects related to telemedicine via satellite, They cover a wide array of aspects: from the prevention of contagious diseases, to handling medical emergencies, onboard airliners for example, assisting patients at home and supporting Continued Medical Education", explains Stefano Badessi, Application Support Senior Engineer for ESA and present at the Milan event.

"However, a big share of our attention goes toward lending support to developing countries. For instance, ESA is part of a task force, which is studying methods of improving, via satellite telecommunications, the national health system of several African countries. To companies with an ESA Telecom supported Applications Project, we are making available dedicated satellite capacity in Africa to support and enhance the build-up capacity of emerging countries."

To read more on what ESA is doing in the areas of Disaster Relief and Telemedicine click under related links at he right of this page.

All images ESA

20/02/2007 - 00:00
Published 20 February 2007
Last updated at 06 August 2014 - 10:38