Project MDRU

Moveable and Deployable ICT Resource Unit

Moveable and Deployable ICT Resource Unit

The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 disrupted the whole communication system in the most affected regions of Japan for many days. This made many people realize how important communication is in the after scene of big disasters. NTT Network Innovation Laboratories responded to this crisis by proposing a resilient ICT architecture called Moveable and Deployable ICT Resource Unit (MDRU) to promptly enable the reestablishment of communication system of telephony and information sharing. Since then the concept has been tested and deployed in disaster vulnerable areas of different countries.

There are there major functions of MDRU;

1.Wi-fi Wireless access networking function

2. Local area telephone call function

3. Virtual Network (Slice) function

MDRU provides minimum ICT service to meet communication demand in a disaster area soon after a disaster occurs.

1.Emergency recovery period: Real time communication demand increases explosively because of need to confirm status.

2.Tentative recovery period: Data communication demand increases because of information gathering by local governments and enterprises.

When a disaster occurs MDRU is carried to disaster affected area and promptly set up to deliver communication system for the people.

MDRU Test and Training Workshop

MDRU Workshop

MDRU Workshop, Nepal was conducted through testing, training and real life simulation. The simulation exercise included disaster simulation & education simulation. The workshop had a very good response from participants and dignitaries including but not limited to Representative from Vice Prime Minister’s office, Mayor of Budhanilkantha Municipality, representative of Disaster Management Division of Nepal Government and CSOs.

The opening ceremony was chaired by Honorable Mayor of Budhanilkantha Municipality as Rt. Honorable Vice Prime Minister cancelled at the last moment due to flooding in the southern part of Nepal. Dignitaries from Nepal Police, Disaster Management Division, Nepal IT Professional Forum, Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology, Tribhuwan University and other CSOs attended the opening ceremony along with Professors and students of Tohuku University, Japan; Tribhuwan University, Nepal; and community people. 22 local participants got hands on experience of MDRU. Demonstration of MDRU and inspection of wireless connection was done during the training program. At the same time, a team from EN, NTT and CVISNet Foundation tested and MDRU server and wireless connections.

The final day consisted of real life simulation exercise and closing ceremony. Command Center and Evacuation Center was set up and the participants were divided into 4 groups. Participants played a disaster simulation game and ultimately found a missing person using MDRU as the only mode of communication. Education simulation was also done by the participants. The workshop concluded with feedbacks from participants and evaluation of the whole workshop with very good response from dignitaries and participants. Participants were awarded and the organizing team were provided with certificate of recognition by Mayor of Budhanilkantha Municipality in the closing ceremony.

Future Modality

In order integrate the MDRU system in Nepal, it was the opinion of participants and experts that MDRU must be brought to daily use so that people are well accustomed to the technology and therefore can effectively use the technology in the time of disaster. The following scopes of MDRU emerged after intensive discussion with experts and participants.

Education

Nepal is a mountainous country with over 60% of its land covered with hills and mountains. Many schools in remote villages in the hills and mountains have poor resources of learning materials and resources. The schools stay closed for long time during monsoon and winter seasons because teachers and students cannot reach the school. In such context we can use the MDRU technology to set up an e-learning platform for distant learning or sharing of education materials.

Health

The accessibility to health facility is also very difficult in rural villages of Nepal. Sometimes people have to walk for hours or even days to reach a nearest hospital just to get primary health care. A concept of tele medicine is on the rise in such villages but not all villages are connected with proper communication system. MDRU can be a lifesaving technology in providing tele medicine facility in Nepal.

Trekking Routes

Out of the top 10 highest mountains in the world 8 of them lie in Nepal. Thousands of tourists visit Nepal every year to trek along these mountain routes. Many trekkers get lost and sometimes even lose lives due to lack of proper communication channel.  Security of tourists along these traveling route can be provided by MDRU as a reliable source of communication during emergency.

MDRU Test in Education

After the field testing and training workshop of MDRU in Nepal in July 2018, education emerged to be one of probable aspects for the daily use of MDRU. We developed over the same idea to test MDRU for Remote Education in rural hilly areas of Nepal. We selected one the marginalized communities in hilly region of Sindhupalchowk district for the purpose of testing of MDRU for Remote Education.

We connected the Elementary School with two nearby villages. The school was named as Main Venue while the two other locations were Remote Venue A and Remote Venue B. Remote Education was tested by Student Remote Learning, Adult Remote Learning and Overall Self Learning for both. The tests were estimated along two phases for the purpose of better evaluation. The evaluation was done based on survey questionnaire, interview of key informant participant and observation. The analysis of data was based on the scores provided by participants within the range of 1 to 5 where 5 meant most effective and 1 meant least effective.

The analysis of data showed MDRU to be very effective for Remote Education at general level. Adult Remote learning received the highest scores, followed by Overall Self Learning and then Student Remote Learning. The user experience of MDRU, effectiveness, relevance and innovation of using MDRU received higher scores and convenience of using MDRU and suitability of MDRU for daily use received lower votes in comparison.

The above results of the tests has shown that MDRU to be an effective tool for Remote Education and thus can be installed in various places to provide quality education through distant learning or e-learning. However, the best utility in Remote Education by using MDRU can still be attained by redesigning dedicated user application or interface for Remote Learning. The current application is fully tailored for disaster communication which at some point makes it little inconvenient to be used in Remote Education. Apart from that, MDRU has shown commendable test scores for its effective use in Remote Education.