A humble sea container hiding some high-tech gear could prove a saving grace for remote communities during times of crisis.

The emergency remote communications module is a 20-foot sea container re-purposed through a deal with Telstra, Nyamal Aboriginal Corporation and BHP as an off-grid and self-sufficient satellite video conferencing unit capable of operation in remote communities.

Xekutiv project lead Andrew White said the modules were borne to address remote communications issues highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In times of fire, famine, flood and disease in remote communities the communications channels were not always as they should be,” he said.

“Lack of communication was seen as a huge risk to communities in the event of a COVID outbreak.

“In the event of an emergency the community leader would be able to open up and enter the video conference room and push a button for police, fire, ambulance, neighbouring communities or any amount of preset numbers.”

Mr White said the modules would have added benefit in providing 24/7 WiFi in close range for the communities.

The first prototype is being trucked to Port Hedland this month where BHP, Telstra and the Nyamal Pe will invite remote community leaders to test its capabilities.

Emergency response aside, Mr White said the module could one day have applications in on-country education, telehealth and legal matters.

“Whilst this is a small 20ft sea container… it is a simple step now to put, say, a 40ft donga as a classroom and attach it so you can have remote education via satellite,” he said.

“There is potential for people to be able to stay in their communities and appear in court for whatever that might be.”