Imagine a situation when you need to inform your children that huge thunderstorms are approaching where they play, but you cannot reach out because the cellular networks are down. This is quite common in emerging countries where cellular networks are congested and connectivity is limited.
Due to exceptional growth of data – double the rate of bandwidth – millions of lives are at grave danger when disaster happens. Keeping this in mind, IBM and The Weather Company have come up with a technology, especially for people in developing countries, which can help deliver alerts for potential severe weather events or disasters without Internet connection or cellular networks.
The new service, dubbed the “Mesh Network Alerts,” will be available first as an update to The Weather Channel App for Android devices in emerging markets across Asia, Latin America and Africa. India will be the first country to receive the update followed by 41 other countries.
How does it work?
The updated Weather Channel app will use peer-to-peer connections within the “mesh” network to send alerts to individuals via their smartphone devices. The peer-to-peer technology will allow each smartphone to store the message and pass it to the next nearest device. Thus, it will create a chain to reach more devices without the need of a cellular network.
Mesh Network Alerts work entirely within the app, using devices connected to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to communicate with other smartphones nearby that are not connected via data or to a cell network.
One of the main benefits of the service is its ability perform better when there are more people to use it. Unlike mobile or Internet signals that slow down when more users overload the network, the mesh networks improve with more people. This is because a larger amount of smartphones helps the mesh network move a message along.
A light-weight app, perfect for emerging markets
The Weather Channel app, available now in the Google Play Store, is specifically developed for emerging markets and is optimized for low bandwidth environments. The most important aspects that make the app a perfect match for users in developing countries include:
- Its reduced size (only 3.2 MB)
- Its ability to use less data
- Hassle-free easy download
- Its ability to load quickly
“Usually, a government-issued message is broadcast via cell tower to all devices within its range. When that network goes down, however, so does the ability to send alerts. Peer-to-peer technology converts mobile devices into links within the mesh network, allowing devices to ‘talk’ directly to each other without using cell tower infrastructure,” according to an official statement from IBM.