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Charity uses 3D printing and microcomputers to save lives in Peru

21.05.2018 DisasterTechnologyNews

People demo new technology

Practical Action is using 3D printing and microcomputers to save lives when floods strike in Peru. The charity has developed a unique way of producing early warning system equipment at a fraction of the normal cost by helping communities produce their own rain gauges and sensors to monitor water levels and evacuate when floods are imminent.

In 2017 the worst floods and landslides for 20 years swept across half of the country, during this time the equipment gave communities in Chosica (40km east of Lima) the time they needed to escape with their lives.

Using inexpensive materials such as 3D printers, solar panels and open-source tech like Arduino & Raspberry Pi micro-computers villagers that are hit first and worst by the effects of climate change are able to escape. These cost less than $25 but are powerful enough to create sensor networks meaning that during the most recent floods, community leaders in Lima and Piura used whatsapp to relay life-saving information and to coordinate response efforts. This meant aid could be delivered quickly to those most in need.