Project bloodhound is more than just about a car. Software from a global organisation, connectivity from a South African mobile operator, and the support of a local community have all been critical to the project, says its director, Richard Noble.
“It’s astonishing what the team in Kimberley has done with minimal resources. They got going with the local people from Rietfontein, where there was 90% unemployment, and made them part of the project. It’s brought a tremendous amount of resources into the area, and given the community an economic lifeline.”
Key elements of the project included MTN putting up radio masts in the area, and the Department of Water Affairs bringing forward a water pipeline project.
“MTN has given the community masts with better 3G than in London. The water pipeline means they can make bricks, which previously had to be transported from Upington at very high cost. So development is accelerating. And now, when we get there, the world will descend on Hakskeen Pan, and they are all going to need looking after. Local people will benefit big time.”
The radio masts are critical to the project.
“MTN has put up full radio masts as a result of an agreement it made back in 2012. It’s a truly wonderful thing to happen, because it means data from the car can be bounced across Kalari dessert to Upington, where we have a portal, and is beamed across the Internet.
“We have 550 data channels coming from car, and have to get it to Upington, to the Web, and then worldwide. We believed fervently we could do it, but everyone took it with a pinch of salt. Two things happened to make it possible, starting with the MTN mast.”
The second was the backing of global database software giant Oracle. They agreed to provide all the technology needed for data transfer, storage and distribution to 230 countries. This includes cutting edge software platforms like Oracle’s Internet of Things cloud service, data visualisation using augmented reality, and advanced analytics using artificial intelligence.
“It’s raised the tide of the whole project,” said Noble.