Disaster Relief at ACWR 2011

December 21, 2011
Amritapuri Campus

The year 2011 saw a large number of natural disasters. Earthquakes rocked Argentina, Chile, Fiji, Iran, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, Sulawesi, Tajikistan and Tonga, during the months of January and February. In March, a deadly earthquake led to a tsunami and a nuclear disaster in Japan.

There were also floods and droughts that claimed many lives. Australia experienced a massive deluge as the year began and as the year came to an end, floods wrecked havoc in Philippines and Thailand. Devastating drought affected millions in Somalia, the Horn of Africa and northern China.


The North American continent experienced flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. There were also record numbers of thunderstorms, tornadoes and wildfires.

In this year of natural disasters, it was perhaps fitting then that the international conference on wireless technologies focused mostly on providing humanitarian and disaster relief.

A large number of research papers presented at the conference focused on how technology could be harnessed to bring relief in disaster situations.


Whether it was studying the interactions between the physical and cyber worlds during unexpected events, or designing an imaging / communications system for first responders, or using intelligent robots for disaster relief, papers modeled the worst scenarios and put forth ideas researched, developed and tested.

The best paper award was also given to a paper from this broad area. Trapped Victim Detection by Pseudo Noise Radar authored by students from Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany described how detection of respiration activity of an unconscious person trapped in earthquake debris could be used to locate the victim. The paper summarized results from pilot field tests.

An invited talk from University of Tokyo detailed simulation of a tsunami. Another from State University of New York elaborated on applications of underwater acoustic sensor networks.


An open source Twitter client for Android phones featured a disaster mode that users could enable upon losing connectivity; this was the focus of an invited talk from ETH Zurich.

“It is nice to note that applications being developed are now assuming that cellular networks may not be working when disaster strikes,” one delegate pointed out.

Another added, “In disaster situations, we may be training new people in the use of a particular technology, so the design should be kept simple and straightforward.”

Towards the close of the conference, a seismologist who attended most sessions, commented, “There are two worlds – the world of technology and the world of disasters. These include scientists and those working with disaster mitigation and relief. I see a marriage taking place between the two groups. This is bound to help many.”

Wireless Technologies for Humanitarian Relief
Dr. Venkat Welcomes ACWR 2011 Delegates
ACWR 2011 Inaugurated
Dr. Paula Bohr at ACWR 2011
Swamiji’s Address at Inauguration of ACWR 2011
ACWR 2011 Delegates Meet Chancellor Amma
Panel Discussion on Wireless in Healthcare
Keynote Speeches at ACWR 2011
ACWR 2011 Concludes

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