mages credits: IBM Call for Code, 2018.
An OWL has brought together a cluster of ducklings and their mother to quickly form ad hoc communications networks to better help coordinate relief efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes, floods or earthquakes.
Project OWL – Organization, Whereabouts, and Logistics – is the brain child of a team of software developers who won a $200,000 prize, as well as the opportunity for worldwide implementation through the IBM Call for Code competition.
- These buoys are transmitters that use longe-range, low-power frequencies often incorporated into Internet of Things devices.
- The devices cost an estimated USD$38 per buoy. Only five are needed to cover a square mile. The team calculated that a 124 square kilometer (77 square mile) metropolitan area the size of San Juan, Puerto Rico, could be covered by less than 100 buoys for about USD$12,000, according to ReliefWeb.
- Smartphone and laptop users would receive a popup when they join the network that would allow them to report their location, condition, and survival needs to rescue workers.
- The OWL software can be used separately as an incident management system. First responders could use the application to set up and coordinate incident zones to access FEMA, Red Cross, even crowd sourced user data. Users can text or call the OWL management system using conventional systems like Alexa and Facebook Messenger, as well as type into it directly from a computer or phone.
The Project Owl team of developers – Charlie Evans, Taraqur Rahman, Nick Feuer, Bryan Knouse and Magus Pereira – live in different parts of the US and met on the Slack channel IBM set up for the contest. The idea for the project hardware originated with Pereira, who recently graduated from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.