Researcher in Belfast wins top award for wireless IT system capable of withstanding earthquakes

A new wireless IT system which can withstand earthquakes and hurricanes has won a top award.

A researcher at Queen's University Belfast made the communications breakthrough and it scooped the Newton Prize, which is given for supporting the economic development and social welfare of developing countries.

It is robust during disasters, coping with the physical destruction of telecomm networks, lack of power supply and network congestion, the university said.

It also provides early warning of natural disasters by detecting water level, vibration and wind data.

Dr Trung Duong said: "Natural disasters are a big problem not just in Vietnam but throughout the whole world and the impact is worse for those in remote and isolated areas with no access to the ICT facilities that are essential to providing vital warning information and aiding in rescue missions."

Dr Duong is originally from Vietnam but based at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen's.

He won the accolade and £200,000 (€224,000) prize money after creating a system capable of transmitting during extreme weather conditions.

In Vietnam, three-quarters of the country's population is at risk from natural disaster, particularly the poor.

In the past 20 years, disasters have claimed more than 13,000 casualties and caused £5.2bn (€5.83bn) damage.

Power cuts and signal blackouts have been common and caused difficulties for emergency servicaes.

Dr Duong said he would use the prize money to develop his research further, creating a system which could be used by telecomms service providers.

He added: "I am very happy that I have been able to make a positive impact in Vietnam and to give something back to the country that I grew up in.

"Our research at Queen's University Belfast is helping to solve many problems for the citizens of Vietnam."

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