Belfast Telegraph

QUB boffin wins £200k prize for disaster-proof communication system

By Allan Preston

A Queen's University researcher has secured a £200,000 prize for designing a new wireless communications system that can withstand natural disasters.

Dr Trung Duong, who is originally from Vietnam, is based at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology in Belfast.

Yesterday in his home country he was among just five winners from across the world to receive the prestigious Newton Prize, which champions work that helps developing countries.

His scientific breakthrough is capable of transmitting during extreme weather conditions.

It's hoped this could become a lifesaver emergency service to co-ordinate large scale rescue efforts during power cuts and signal blackouts.

In Vietnam, 70% of the population is at risk from natural disasters, especially the rural and urban poor.

In the past 20 years alone disasters have claimed more than 13,000 casualties and cost around £5.2bn in damage.

Dr Duong's invention is officially known as an integrated heterogeneous wireless system (IHWS).

The device is tailormade for natural disasters and able to handle problems like the destruction of telecommunications networks, lack of power supply and network congestion.

Incredibly, the system also provides an early warning of natural disasters by detecting water level, vibration and wind.

When used in cities, the IWHS can detect increases in dust, temperature, noise and carbon dioxide levels.

Dr Duong will use the prize money to continue his research, which he hopes will assist telecommunications providers in Vietnam.

"I am very happy that I have been able to make a positive impact in Vietnam and to give something back to the country that I grew up in," he said.

"Our research at Queen's University Belfast is helping to solve many problems for the citizens of Vietnam.

"I am so pleased to have won the 2017 Newton Prize.

"Natural disasters are a big problem not just in Vietnam but throughout the whole world, and the impact is worse for those in remote and isolated areas with no access to the ICT facilities that are essential to providing vital warning information and aiding in rescue missions."

Professor James McElnay, acting president and vice-chancellor of Queen's, said: "I am delighted that Dr Trung Duong has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Newton Prize.

"Dr Duong's work is a great example of the world leading research taking place at Queen's University Belfast and the Newton Prize is a strong endorsement of the important role our researchers play in tackling major global issues."

"Dr Duong's research is making a positive impact on the lives of many people in Vietnam and I am proud that his innovation and expertise has been recognised on the world stage."

British Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever said: "By working together and leveraging each other's strengths, we can achieve more than what we would achieve alone.

"I am excited to think about the future possibilities, and look forward to a bright future for the Newton Fund Programme Vietnam."

The UK's Minister for Universities, Science and Research Jo Johnson will also host an event in London in early December to celebrate the first year of the Prize and to announce the 2018 Newton Prize countries.

Belfast Telegraph

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