Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Public: aid

Deliver difused humanitarian aid to those in need with modified balloons
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The basic idea of this invention is to get aid to people who need it while making it difficult or unprofitable to those who do not need it.

The fundamental idea comes from WWII Fire Balloons which were launched by the Japanese against the Americans. see link [link] [link]

However, with a little bit of modern technology the accuracy of where each package falls and how closely it falls relative to other aid balloons can be controlled.

The balloon should have an AM radio antenna and a small low power (FM or Bluetooth 3.0) transmitter. The radio should be connected to a computer system that can compute the latency of received radio signals. An AM base station is used to send a strong signal to help the balloons determine how far they are from the base station and when they should go into active mode. In active mode the balloon would arm a deflation device turn on a low power antenna that would transmit it's signal to other nearby balloons. The group of relatively close balloons would use a self-configuring network protocol to determine the distance (latency) between other balloons and make a mesh. This mesh is to ensure that balloons are deflated and therefore dispersed as diffusely or densely as desired by the senders.

Once the the Balloons land, the parts should be as completely cannibalizable as possible. Here are some ideas as to how the parts can be repurposed.

1) the balloon should be rectangular so that the mylar-based balloon can be later repurposed as a poncho, temporary shelter or blanket

2) The AM reciever should also be an AM radio so that people can receive information updates such as places to go to seek aid where to go to avoid fighting and also weather updates.

3) The balloons payload should also contain freeze dried food and possibly water or water cleaning tablets and other various survival aids.

The fact that it is a personalized survival kit, it makes it difficult to feed an army by stealing them from those that need it. It also removes logistical problems such as going through hostile territory to deliver aid, which would most likely be stolen or looted, and put aid workers at risk. The real beauty of this system is the dispersal of information to those who are seeking safety. Because timely information is difficult to come by when an area's infrastructure is disrupted and many areas don't have working power. This system at the very least would give people access to information that would reduce the loss of life and promote moral for people stuck in conflicts.

This could also be used in disaster areas that have a wide area of effect, such as a hurricane or tsunami. It could travel to places that traditional means couldn't and it could disperse itself to maximize the spread of information and lend survival aid.

Though it's an inaccurate delivery system it might be able to be used to supply an exodus by falling along a route that is under a stable wind current.

wuss, Apr 17 2009

Wikipedia Fire Balloons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon
[wuss, Apr 17 2009]


       //This could also be used in disaster areas that have a wide area of effect, such as a hurricane //
//by falling along a route that is under a stable wind current//
Does anyone see any loopholes here?
coprocephalous, Apr 17 2009

       Computer: Power Supply?   

       Otherwise nice idea - sounds like doodlebugs of aid.
miasere, Apr 17 2009

       Some balloons could contain that boring food and water stuff. Others might contain a random sampling of Western Cargo: toys, flashy shorts, condoms, massage oil, fishing lures, maginfying glasses etc. This will encourage people to chase them down. The balloons should be decorated with a benevolent visage of John Frum.
bungston, Apr 17 2009

       //This will encourage people// - any population so in need of food and water that it has to be shipped in via robot-balloons can be trusted to chase down the ballons wihtout further incentives.
loonquawl, Apr 17 2009

       Rather than balloons, in order to get the aid to where it's needed, would it be better to drop a swarm of RC gliders from a bomber, using an (encrypted to prevent malicious use) video stream along with radar to guide the pilots? Ganted the payload wouldn't necessarily be as much as the balloons, and they'd cost more, but at least most of them land where they're useful!
Skrewloose, Apr 19 2009


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