2014

Pocket FM - Radio for crisis regions

Creating an independant information service for crisis regions.
MiCT is a non-profit organization that implements media development projects in the Middle East and Northern Africa. MiCT approached us to help them develop a number of small range radio transmitters specialized for the use in crisis regions. Together with finding a solution for spreading information in a crisis region, either during conflicts or a national catastrophe, you can face various challenges; for instance, crisis regions do no longer have an existing infrastructure, mass media systems are destroyed or controlled by a certain group, there is no reliable power, no consistent or no internet connection at all, and often no freedom of speech.
Approach

Together with a diverse team of specialists with different backgrounds – e.g., activists, engineers, journalists, NGO representative, designer – we defined possible constraints, as well as made sure the concept we had in mind fits fitting the target groups’ needs: that it’s compact, easy to use, and open for quick modifications. We were asked to deliver a proof of concept. 

Result

To save time and budget, we did research on which parts of the system we could buy off the shelf. We developed the missing technologies ourselves and built the first version of the radio transmitters, which are currently being deployed and tested in field.

RADIO NETWORK ECOSYSTEM – USING EXISTING SET-UP

The Pocket FM allows you to access radio streams that are produced all over the world, which are collected on a server and hosted over a webpage or sent via satellite. You can visit the internet platform to you receive live streams and a whole range of stored sessions. Alternatively, the satellite signal can be received by any satellite receiver. The receiver hands over an audio signal to the Pocket FM transmitter, which transforms the audio into a FM signal. Now the signal can be spread through a small sized simple antenna, which is either coming with the Pocket FM or can easily built out of any wire. The higher you can position the antenna (e.g. in a tree or on the rooftop) the greater is the reach range of the radio signal and can be received by any dump radio.

Press coverage

Since its launch, the Pocket FM has gained extensive media coverage. It was featured in BBC News, Time Magazine, NPR, the Local, NiemanLab, Voice of America and more.