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$3m order for rescue ‘black box’

PERTH-BASED Remote and Rural Communications is chasing capital to help produce its 'rescue radio' unit, after a $3 million order from China.

Managing director John Barnes said the company was considering several options to raise the capital, including debt capital financing from overseas or private investing, although current market conditions had not helped the company's cause.

Described as a black box for natural disaster situations, the rescue radio helps provide a visual, audio and a GPS signal from a disaster area to government officials or aid agencies quickly, so resources can be deployed where they are needed most.

Remote and Rural Communications developed the rescue radio, a simple unit the size of small suitcase that was designed after extensive market research into what government and aid agencies needed when disasters hit.

"The testing of the market was basically talking to just about every single emergency aid agency we could find," Mr Barnes said.

"We tried to find out what their biggest issue was in a disaster area and what their biggest obstacle to saving people was, and it always came back to communications.

"The missing thing was that there was nothing the survivors could use to reach out to the rescuers."

And that is what the development of the radio rescue is trying to change. The unit opens up into two parts, with one part placed at the scene of the disaster, and the other placed in a safe area up to eight kilometres away, which then relays photos and audio from the unit to an authorised computer, which can be anywhere in the world as long as it has an internet connection.

Also providing exact coordinates of where the radio rescue is located, to help find nearby survivors, the unit allows two-way communications between survivors who have made their way to the unit and those monitoring its video and audio feeds from a computer, with a battery life of about 72 hours.

"It provides a local communications network within the disaster zone and then through the satellite link, it also links back to emergency coordinators like Red Cross, World Vision, Nato, or whoever it is in the world, and as long as you've got access to a broadband internet service you can receive the signal," Mr Barnes said.

With a current $3 million order from China for the radio rescue, Mr Barnes believes the units could be held in strategic locations such as police stations or embassies, and in areas prone to natural disasters.

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