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IBM-Backed Project Creates Wi-Fi Network For Natural Disasters

The making of a DuckLink, a device used to create special Wi-Fi networks to be used in disaster areas.

The making of a DuckLink, a device used to create special Wi-Fi networks to be used in disaster areas.

Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

From a cramped living room in Brooklyn, New York, a handful of young computer nerds has developed a new way to use technology to help save lives in natural disasters.

They have designed tiny electronic nodes inside baseball-sized rubber casings that create a special Wi-Fi network spanning more than 100 square miles that can be used to connect victims and first responders. It’s a simple and relatively cheap concept, but during a natural disaster when cell towers topple, technology fails and entire communities fall into darkness – communication can be the difference between life and death.