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Here’s What Google Is Doing To Get Puerto Rico Connected With The Outside World Since Hurricane Maria

Google’s Project Loon Bringing Internet To Puerto Rico

Google is using balloons to bring internet to Puerto Rico

Posted by NowThis Future on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Google wants to use balloons to reconnect Puerto Rico with the outside world.

Google is doing their part to help Puerto Rico reconnect with the outside world while recovery efforts continue on the Caribbean island. How? With balloons. Essentially, Google is using weather balloons that float above flight paths (and wildlife), bringing Internet to people in rural, isolated, and remote areas where Internet access doesn’t exist. It’s called Project Loon, and Google describes it as a “network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide.”

The balloons rely on existing telecommunications infrastructure, like cell phone towers, in order to transmit the signal to the people. That’s why AT&T an important part of this project, according to Engadget. The telecommunications company has reportedly restored cellular service to about 60 percent of the population in Puerto Rico. With those towers in place, balloons can receive the signal from the cell phone towers and spread that signal to a large area on earth.

“Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and Internet activities like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones,” Alastair Westgarth, the head of Project Loon, wrote on Medium. “This is the first time we have used our new machine learning powered algorithms to keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico, so we’re still learning how best to do this.”

You can learn more about Project Loon in the video below.

Project Loon has been deployed under emergency circumstances once before. Earlier this year, Project Loon sent their connectivity balloons to Peru to help the country recover after deadly floods. According to a BBC report, Peruvians sent 160 GB worth of data in just three months using Project Loon, which translates to 30 million instant messages, or two million emails.


READ: Here’s The Impressive Way Google Is Providing Internet To Peru

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Over A Month After Hurricane Maria And David Begnaud Is Still Asking The Tough Questions In Puerto Rico

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Over A Month After Hurricane Maria And David Begnaud Is Still Asking The Tough Questions In Puerto Rico

@DavidBegnaud

If you’re Puerto Rican, you’ve likely been paying close attention to any and all news coming from the island, especially if you’ve got family and/or friends in Puerto Rico. After being hit by one of the worst hurricanes in its history just over a month ago, Puerto Rico is still suffering. The majority of people are still without power. Many have died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, due to lack of food, water, and electricity. Recovery efforts have not been optimal, with the Trump administration dragging its feet, patting itself on the back and letting the temporary lift on the Jones Act expire, keeping many other countries that planned on providing help from doing so in a quick and concise manner.

With little to no electricity or phone service to locals on the island, how do we know so much about the situation there? Reporter David Begnaud, that’s how.

CBS reporter David Begnaud has been on the ground doing the hard work from the beginning.

He has exposed the abysmal conditions that exist and persist in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He’s been there for weeks and continues looking for answers.

Begnaud is covering everything from conditions at the airport to asking Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello why it’s taken so long to get people help.

And when the governor hasn’t been answering his questions to his satisfaction, he’s been digging to get to the bottom of it.

He’s keeping just about everyone who is invested in the success of Puerto Rico up to speed on what’s going on.

He’s not just breaking the hard, sad, or frustrating news, he’s also making sure we know the good that’s happening, too.

Some of his stories are gut-wrenching.  This one happens to have a happy ending.

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“Vulnerable Puerto Ricans look beyond government for help leaving the island” This was the story that aired on @cbsthismorning highlighting critical cases in Puerto Rico where patients with life threatening illnesses are desperate to evacuate the island. In one case, (Carmelo Diaz/ALS patient) @teamgleason stepped up to handle logistics. @americanair offered to escort the ALS patient from door to door. In another case, (Jesus Garces Soto/Cancer patient) is being housed at a specialized location by the @americancancersociety which is working to evacuate him to the mainland on a private charter. Copy and paste this link into a browser to find out what hurdles, involving Medicaid, some patients are facing once they get to the mainland: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vulnerable-puerto-ricans-evacuated-american-cancer-society-steve-gleason/

A post shared by David Begnaud (@davidbegnaud) on

And all those stories you’re hearing that sound like they could be made up? Begnaud is fact-checking and debunking those rumors.

Many look to Begnaud as one of the most reliable sources for information on what’s happening on the island.

Some have gone the extra mile and sweetly ordained him a saint.

“Saint David of Begnaud, Patron Saint of Puertorricans. He who has kept us informed of what’s truly happening in the island. May his cellphone battery be forever charged,” wrote Instagram user @captainanabanana, who also printed several of these images out as stickers to give away.

NPR Latino got on a call with him recently and talked about the Begnaud phenomena.

Credit: NPR Latino USA

You can tell that Puerto Ricans, their culture and their infectious spirit have really resonated with Begnaud. He also admits he didn’t really know much about Puerto Rico or its people until reporting there. His lack of knowledge, however, didn’t prevent him from really connecting and finding a special place in his heart for Puerto Ricans and for doing everything he can to get to the bottom of why the humanitarian crisis there is as out of hand as it is.


[H/T] NPR’s Latino USA

READ: People Have Packed Puerto Rico’s San Juan Airport And Are Standing In Hot, Humid Conditions So They Don’t Lose Their Place In Line


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