(Business in Cameroon) - Matias Alcoba, remote sensing engineer working for the Development Research Institute (IRD), undertook a mission to Cameroon from 6 to 30 March 2017 in the framework of the RainCell project (Rain measurement from Cellular phone networks). During his mission, Matias Alcoba met the technical teams of mobile operator Orange and the main Cameroonian partners involved in the project.
The RainCell method is based on the observation that the energy carried by cellular phone networks decreases when it rains between cell towers due to the diffusion of the wave by the raindrops. The researchers thus realised that by measuring the fluctuations in the signal, it was possible to estimate the quantity of rainfall in any single point of the network and this, potentially, in real time and at low cost.
In Cameroon, the project is part of the urban hydrology projects currently developed by the cities of Douala and Yaoundé. Ultimately, the compilation of measurements will be used to generate maps of areas at risk of flooding, useful for city planning. The real-time measurements will serve as basis for work and alerting the relevant authorities (Urban Communities, emergency preparedness, firemen) in the management of flooding risks. RainCell-Cameroon could be expanded to other Cameroonian cities.
In Africa, geolocated rainfall measurement was first tested and validated for the first time in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as part of a partnership with the operator Telecel Faso, the project was then extended to the towns of Bamako (Mali) and Niamey (Niger).