Skip to main content
To KTH's start page To KTH's start page

New technology for better healthcare in developing countries

Published Oct 29, 2010

A group of students at KTH have now released a third version of the software Bytewalla. It may for example help nurses to communicate with hospitals despite the absence of internet access.

Malik Wahaj Arshad
Malik Wahaj Arshad, one of the KTH students who are part of the team behind the latest version of Bytewalla

“In Ethiopia, only 0.4 percent of the population have access to the Internet. It is a major challenge for nurses in the field for example when they need to send information electronically to doctors in hospitals," says Malik Arshad Wahaj, one of the KTH students who are a part of the team behind the latest version of Bytewalla.

He adds that Internet access among the Sami in Norway, Sweden and Finland is also not especially good. Bytewalla is therefore a good technique to use where Internet access is not available; it was developed by a group of students at the School of Information and Communication at KTH.

But how does it work? Well, based on open source, Bytewalla is a software that is installed on a computer and as an application on mobile telephones equipped with the mobile operating system Android.

Then, when a person wants to transmit information, such as a medical journal, it is sent from the computer to the mobile. The mobile phone accompanies you, and as soon as it comes into contact with the Internet or another Android mobile with Bytewalla installed, the medical journal is transferred. There is no limit as to how many Android mobiles the medical records can be transferred via, but there is a built-in intelligence system for the selection of a [suitable] mobile.

“Bytewalla has a smart routing protocol that can analyze which Android mobile in close proximity that is most likely to achieve internet access first," says Malik Arshad Wahaj.

In addition to the fact that Bytewalla is a solution for areas where Internet access is lacking, it is also a very cost effective solution. Spending on the build up of an infrastructure basically just involves labour costs to install the software.

One way to extend Bytewalla’s opportunities is to equip the public transport system in rural areas with Android mobiles, and in that way the mobile access points can be achieved. But this means that roads are needed, which are not always present in such African countries.

The Telecommunication Systems Lab, TSLab, at KTH has initiated a number of projects to expand the use of ICT in Africa. Bytewalla is a shining example of such a project. Bytewalla provides a delay-tolerant network, a network architecture that tries to resolve the technical problems that arise in extreme environments and situations where you do not have access to conventional networks.

There are similar solutions on the market, such as SANA, and DaKNet in India. These solutions however have technical limitations which makes Bytewalla a better solution.

For more information, contact Malik Wahaj Arshad at 070 - 015 01 07 or

Read more about Bytewalla

Peter Larsson