While you might be far from a cell-phone tower in the Outback, you’re never far from a LandCruiser. These vehicles outnumber cell-phone installations in Australia 30 to 1.
So we launched the LandCruiser Emergency Network (L.E.N.); an ongoing project aiming to bring emergency communications to the 5.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s landmass that currently receives no mobile signal.
By leveraging Australia’s most widely used 4x4, it’s possible for us to bring emergency communications to some of the most remote parts of the continent.
We turned volunteers’ LandCruisers into communications hotspots with a range of up to 25km, close to what an ordinary cell-phone tower provides. Together, these L.E.N.-enabled vehicles can create an emergency communications network anywhere it’s needed.
The result was a simple, inexpensive, signal-providing device engineered to use a combination of Wi-Fi, UHF and Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology – an area that lots of people are looking into (including NASA for interplanetary communications) – to turn vehicles into communications hotspots each with up to 25km range.
During emergencies, anyone within range can use the network to log a call or geo-tagged message straight from their ordinary mobile phone. Data is then securely passed between LandCruisers, on a store-and-forward basis, until it reaches a network base-station and first responders can be alerted.
As well as communicating with the outside world, people within the network can share maps, news, and updates to help organise their disaster response.
L.E.N. successfully brought a means of communication to people who previously had almost no way of communicating in times of emergency.
After a successful pilot program, L.E.N. covers some of the most remote areas across 50,000km2 of South Australia, with plans to further expand the network.
We are currently in discussions with a local government in Western Australia to further expand L.E.N. in an area including the Canning Stock Route (one of the most dangerous and remote roads in the world stretching 1,850km).
Emergency Services and Government agencies around Australasia have sought involvement with the project.
Toyota is currently exploring distribution as well as integration of L.E.N. into LandCruisers in Australia and around the world, for free.