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Google has helped restore Internet services in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria interrupted the country’s communication services.
Hurricane Maria was classified as Category 4, which is the second highest intensity of a hurricane. Due to the hurricane’s intensity, the majority of Puerto Ricans lost access to electricity. Cellular and Internet services also sustained damages, causing communication lines to be cut off.
Because of these massive damages, Puerto Rico’s local government needed help from foreign organizations to speed up recovery efforts.
One of the private companies that extended help to Puerto Rico is Google. The tech giant helped temporarily restore cellular and Internet services through Project Loon. The project involves releasing gigantic balloons that receive signals from Puerto Rico’s local telecommunication companies to the atmosphere. The balloons then transmit the signals they receive to devices such as smartphones, allowing people to reconnect to cellular networks and the Internet.
Each balloon is made of a durable type of plastic. It can fly twice as high as airplanes and is powered by solar energy that can sustain its altitude for 100 days. After 100 days, the balloon will release some gas so that it can begin landing slowly. In case the balloon releases too much air and starts plunging to the ground, it has a built-in parachute that will help it descend gradually.
In addition to efforts to restore communication lines, other organizations are also trying to address Puerto Rico’s erratic electricity supply. Tesla has sent and installed hundreds of batteries to serve as an emergency power supply in some areas. These batteries can also be recharged with solar energy.