Dr Trung Duong, a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, has been awarded the inaugural Newton Prize in Vietnam for the development of a communications system that can operate in extreme weather conditions including earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes.

The £200,000 prize was awarded to the team behind ‘Building a Foundation for Sustainable Development: Networked Societies for the Cities of Tomorrow’ at an event last week in Hanoi, Vietnam. The project is a collaboration with Dr Vo Nguyen-Son from Duy Tan University, Vietnam and is part of the British Council’s Institutional Links programme.

The team designed an integrated heterogeneous wireless system (IHWS), which is robust in maintaining communications during disasters such as floods, landslides and droughts. It copes with issues such as physical destruction of telecommunication networks, lack of power supply and network congestion.

The system also provides early warning of natural disasters by detecting water level, vibration and wind. In cities, the IHWS can detect increases in dust, temperature, noise and carbon dioxide levels. Academic staff and students from 20 universities throughout Vietnam have been trained in the system and several leading telecommunication companies are interested in bringing it into production.

Dr Duong, who is based at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen's University Belfast, said: “I am so pleased to have won the 2017 Newton Prize. Natural disasters are a big problem not just in Vietnam but throughout the whole world and the impact is worse for those in remote and isolated areas with no access to the ICT facilities that are essential to providing vital warning information and aiding in rescue missions. 

“This prize money will allow myself and my team to develop the system further and to work with the key telecommunications companies in Vietnam. By doing so we can provide citizens with better warning, measurement tools and education initiatives."

The Newton Fund Programme Vietnam is the first formal research and innovation partnership programme between the UK and Vietnamese Governments. Both countries have agreed the five priority areas of mutual interest as health and life sciences; agriculture; environmental resilience and energy security; future cities; and digital innovation and creativity. Over the last three and a half years the fund has disbursed nearly £5 million and rolled out 35 calls over 15 schemes. This has resulted in 162 grants that benefit nearly 400 individuals, mostly researchers, from 60 Vietnamese and 43 UK research organisations.

The Newton Prize aims to incentivise researchers to participate in the Newton Fund as partners with the UK, and to work on the most important challenges facing Newton countries. The concept for the Newton Prize has been developed to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton countries are solving global challenges. 

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have four strategic challenges:
- Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
- Address the engineering skills crisis
- Position engineering at the heart of society
- Lead the profession

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