A Wired article talks about how Uganda is planning to build a nationwide, wireless network for its healthcare-system based “on the cheap” using “the country’s existing cell-phone network, Palm handhelds and new battery-powered, wireless Linux servers.”
Satellife’s system will be based on 3,000 to 5,000 Palm handhelds given to doctors and health-care workers in the field. The handhelds will be used for routine health administration, ordering and tracking medical supplies, delivering new treatment guidelines and, of course, communication.
In the field, the handhelds will connect to inexpensive, battery-powered Linux servers set up across the country.
Built by WideRay, a San Francisco startup, the Jack servers have built-in GPRS radios, which afford them an always-on connection to Uganda’s near-ubiquitous cell-phone network.
About the size of a thick hardback textbook, the Jack servers act as “caching” servers, storing content sent to them over the cell network from the administration’s computers in Kampala. In turn, reports and e-mail received from the handhelds are relayed wirelessly back to the capital. The servers communicate with handhelds using an infrared link.
The servers are powered by industrial-grade batteries and a single charge lasts up to a year.
I would love to get an idea of the costs for such a project.