Wireless connection and innovation

Of all the latest technologies to have come out during the last two decades, nothing touched and changed the lives of people across the globe than the mobile phone and wireless internet connection.

At the tip of one’s fingers or touch of the screens of mobile phones and computers, one can send message on the air in real time.

When these two products of technological inventions are interfaced they become even more powerful tool for communication and community empowerment.

And in a disaster prone country like the Philippines, the value of these little gadgets could spell life and death in a second.

We all know computers have now become a necessity rather than a luxury and cellular phones have become the extension of one’s home.

In a recent national competition among electronics and communications students, two of last year’s innovations using mobile phones and computers have already gone beyond prototypes.

The Earthquake Intensity Monitoring System designed by students from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, for one, has caught the attention of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Where budgetary constraints are limiting the country’s premier volcano and seismic authorities, the EIMS has made their jobs easier.  Using computer software and programs and broadband internet connection, the devices are now installed in at least 10 different earthquake-prone areas saving Phivolcs time and resources.  The EIMS now enables Phivolcs to accumulate, store and analyze data registered from the devise using the internet and thence issue alerts and warnings in real time.

The EIMS won last year’s grand prize for Smart’s Wireless Engineering Education Program.

Another winning application was Ateneo de Davao University’s Disaster Alert System which got the nod of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.  

What began as a marine-based disaster alert system has now even evolved into a more comprehensive weather monitoring and disaster alert system after a series of consultations between the AdDU students and the local government.  The device includes rainfall measurement, water level monitoring, wind velocity and direction and alerts of vessels as well as land-based vehicles in distress at pinpoint accuracy of location using the global positioning system programmed in computers and sent through wireless internet connection.  Alerts are then sent via SMS through the city’s Rescue 911 units.

Like the EIMS, AdDU’s application innovation is now commercially produced.

Smart Communications Philippines is at the forefront of tapping colleges and universities offering electronics and communications courses in innovating applications otherwise underutilized by most mobile phones users and computer owners.

Smart’s Ramon Isberto said that mobile phones are more than just texting and calling or browsing the internet.

“Farmers can monitor farm gate prices of their produce by tweaking some programs in the mobile phones,” Isberto told reporters during the recently concluded 6th SWEEP Awards.

The key, he said, is integrating innovation for community applications.

This year’s grand prize winner went to Holy Name University of Tagbilaran City in Bohol.

The winning application uses mobile phones and computer programs that detects and locates leakage in water piping system using Google map.  The innovation is primary designed for water suppliers but has the potential to alert consumers if there are leaks in their household connections without waiting for their next bill to come.

“The system automatically shuts off pipelines if there are leaks,” said one of the students who designed the entry.

For their winning entry, the students won P500,000 and their school also received equivalent amount of grant.

The first runner up this year was again Ateneo de Davao University which entry “Fish Density Detection System” allows municipal fisherfolks to determine a congregation of fish and other marine life in fishpens and other aggregating devices.  The prototype is somewhat crude and limited in scope but has the potential commercial use even in deep sea fishing.

Using a lighting device to attract fishes or school of fish, the application uses ultrasonic range finder which transmit data via wireless connection to a computer programmed to determine density of moving objects captured by the device.

The Ateneo de Davao students won P300,000. The school likewise received the same amount in grant.

Isberto said SWEEP is an ongoing initiative of the telecommunication company to meet the challenges of continuing evolution of wireless technology.

“We want students to develop applications that will have social impact and improve the lives of the communities we serve,” he said.

“The mobile phones are presently underutilized.  We want students to innovate applications to help our communities,” he added.