May 22, 2015

Products & Solutions / Blog Posts

New Technology Utilizes Rugged Computer to Save Nepal Earthquake Victims


Nepal - The massive April 25 Nepal earthquake caused incredible devastation displacing citizens, taking lives and leaving many trapped beneath fallen rubble. It triggered avalanches and left many stranded in remote locations across the country. This put rescuers in a difficult position. They needed reliable technology that could sustain the extreme environment of this disaster zone and quickly locate the missing. With lives on the line, it was important to have a solution they could depend on.

To aid in this difficult search, two prototype FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) devices were deployed to support search and rescue teams in the stricken areas, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FINDER, developed by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a portable device that uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats and breathing of victims trapped in wreckage and rubble. The FINDER solution is able to locate individuals buried as deep as 30 feet in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet in open spaces, according to NASA.

This new search-and-rescue technology was able to help locate four men who were buried underneath as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris. The men were trapped for days in the village of Chautara, one of the areas that was hit the hardest by the earthquake and suffered a third of the entire country's fatalities, according to NPR.

In these devastated disaster zones, durable technology is key in aiding search efforts. A critical component of FINDER is the tablet computer that is used to operate the solution. For this reason, DHS and NASA selected a fully rugged Panasonic Toughbook H2 tablet PC. The Toughbook H2 has a sealed, all-weather design and is IP65 and MIL-STD-810G certified to withstand extreme weather, drops and other tough conditions rescuers might face in situations like that in Nepal. It also includes other valuable features that rescue workers depend on like an LED screen for easy viewing in direct sunlight, hot-swappable batteries for maximum uptime and an integrated handle for easy portability.

The complete FINDER solution has proven to be an incredible life-saving tool in disaster situations. NASA has just announced that FINDER will soon be available commercially, so it can be used by search and rescue teams around the world.


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(Image courtesy of NASA)

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