For people in El Salvador (among others), there is a much more prescient analogy for a snow ball effect: the mudslide. Unstable terrain can easily teeter into disaster if rain comes down in large enough volumes. But just like a snow ball, a mudslide can be foreseen when it’s just trickles coming downhill, or even better when the forecast calls for heavy rains in vulnerable areas.
Network World recently reported on an IoT (Internet of Things) monitoring and warning system designed to let villagers take precautions in a timely manner. And even though “Internet” is in the name, the system does not require a network infrastructure to work; a critical feature as connectivity also tends to fall prey to any striking natural calamity. The system is “battery powered, rugged, affordable and simple enough for villagers.”
Prototypes are quickly evolving, tests are spreading to other countries, and the Open Source code is improving (and accepting contributions on GitHub). Find out more at Reacción.net.