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The first such aerostat was launched at IT Park in Dehradun on Friday on a pilot basis in the presence of chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
Hydrogen is used to lift the aerostat which is fitted with cameras for surveillance, a base transceiver antenna to make calls and a Wi-Fi modem to provide internet. The 6-metre-long aerostat can float in the air for 14 days, according to Amit Sinha, director of state’s Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA) which led the project. The aerostat technology was provided by IIT-Bombay.
The ITDA director told TOI that each aerostat, which costs Rs 50 lakh to set up, can provide internet within a range of 7.5 km with download speed of 5 Mbps. “Anyone in the range will be able to connect to the Wi-Fi which will be free initially. Anybody will be able to log in without a password,” he said.
According to estimates, 680 of 16,870 villages in the Himalayan state lack mobile connectivity or internet. At the launch of the aerostat, CM Rawat said that the technology would be used in remote areas that are not connected to the internet.
Citing the example of Ghes village in Garhwal where ITDA recently set up a solar-powered Wi-Fi network, the CM said that the state government was committed to bringing remote villages on the digital map.
“We developed remote village of Ghes into a digital village and everyone is happy with the effort,” said Rawat, adding that more villages in the hill state would be connected to the internet.
The CM said that the technology would be used for surveillance in emergency situations. The ITDA director added, “When disaster struck Kedarnath in June 2013, the survivors were unreachable as mobile towers had collapsed and roads were cut off. Aerostat technology can be used in such situations for real-time monitoring, act as a mobile phone tower and to guide search and rescue operations.”