Greenstar Components

Water Purification

Waterborne diseases kill more than 400 developing-world children every hour. Two out of three people in the world must fetch water from outside their homes. Pollution of water supplies from agricultural and industrial wastes is now a worldwide phenomenon; even the remotest villages may experience some kinds of chemical accumulation in their wells or streams, from sources hundred or thousands of kilometers away.

In many places in the developing world, the single most effective thing one can do in the cause of public health, to reduce childhood illnesses, low birth rate, reduced life span, illness in pregnant women, improve people's ability and desire to work, contribute to their dignity, sense of future and place -- is to provide clean water. Many other programs need to dovetail with a clean water program to truly serve all the health needs of a community, and clean water by itself is just a start -- but it is a very good start, and helps to make other health programs (like immunization, HIV prevention, mosquito control) more viable.

Broadly speaking, water purification technology falls into two main groups: eliminating organic contaminants, like viruses and bacteria, and eliminating harmful chemicals. There are high-tech approaches and low-tech approaches for each; there are small-scale and large-scale approaches. The field of water purification is a broad and vital one, and many companies, government organizations, international groups, research institutes and private charities are active.

Here, Greenstar highlights just three of the many technologies and common-sense approaches that might be weighed in the design a water purification system that works for a particular place and set of problems. What is needed in the city of Mumbai may be entirely different from what is needed in a village just 100 km away; it is important to assess the various cost and performance options.

Ultra-Violet Light

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory developed a water disinfection system using ultraviolet light that is durable, easy to use, inexpensive, and can be constructed and maintained locally. The disinfection process uses approximately 40,000 times less primary energy than the standard alternative -- boiling water over a cookstove.

UV-C light is "germicidal"; that is, it destroys germs and viruses by inactivating their DNA and their ability to reproduce. Standard fluorescent lamps made with a special glass that is transparent to UV light.can be used.

This technology has been commercialized, made into manufactured products that can efficiently made, delivered and supported anywhere in the world. One major US company with UV products today is Water Health International and you can see their product line, including UV Waterworks, in this online catalog:

WHI has several pilot household systems in the field for whole-house water disinfection. These Household Systems also can provide sufficient water daily for multiple homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, rural estates and public facilities.

Each Household System utilizes the UV Waterworks disinfection unit, which effectively treats water contaminated with bacteria, viruses and Cryptosporidium; systems also include filters for removal of particles, tastes and odors. Each Household System includes an extra UV lamp and fuse and one set of replacement filter cartridges, which should last for one year under normal usage.

A WHI system was installed at Greentar's very first solar-powered community center, in the Palestinian village of Al-Kaabneh.

Water Pasteurization

Safe Water Systems has pioneered the field of water pasteurization; essentially, they use the efficiently collected light of the sun to heat water to a controlled temperature, keep it hot for a given period of time, then allow it to cool and dispense it.

This approach removes most pathogens from water at a very low cost; Safe Water Systems products can be made very inexpensively, even easily manufactured in developing countries to save time, expense and to create jobs. the company's website has full details, at

A simple brochure, with photographs, may be downloaded from one of Greenstar's websites here:

Safe Water Systems was highlighted by Greenstar at the United Nations Sustainable Development conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of Greenstar's "Tools for Independence."

A short video about the company, its technology, its key products, and a case study of an application in the Philippines, may be viewed here:

Basic Treatment, Storage, Behavior

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia USA has developed a water quality intervention program that employs several simple, inexpensive and robust technologies appropriate for the developing world.

The strategy is to make water safe through disinfection and safe storage at the point of use. The basis of the intervention is:

• point-of-use treatment of contaminated water using sodium hypochlorite solution purchased locally and produced in the community from water and salt using an electrolytic cell;

• safe water storage in plastic containers with a narrow mouth, lid, and a spigot to prevent recontamination;

• behavior change techniques, including social marketing, community mobilization, motivational interviewing, communication, and education, to increase awareness of the link between contaminated water and disease and the benefits of safe water, and to influence hygiene behaviors including the purchase and proper use of the water storage vessel and disinfectant.

CDC's website is a virtual encyclopedia on safe water, and provides not only technology and medical information, but also details of how to actually implement a program in a developing country. Economic, social, cultural and educational issues are just as important to address as the content of the water.

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) about clean water for beginners are answered here:

The CDC's web resources begin here:

There is an online manual to aid implementation here:

Greenstar produced a complete manual based on the above site, forrmatted it for easy downloading, viewing and printing; this manual is available here:

Solar-Powered Vaccine Cooler

One of the most important elements of any successful public health program is the availability of high-quality vaccines, which must be continuously cooled to remain effective.

The Cold Chain is a system that attempts to keep vaccines at proper temperatures as they are distributed from the manufacturer to the locations where they are administered. Fail-safe refrigeration within a specified range of temperature, from point-of-manufacture to point-of-use, is critical to the effectiveness of any vaccination program. Where there is no reliable conventional fuel supply, solar-powered vaccine coolers may be the only option.

The refrigerator is typically powered by a photovoltaic charged battery bank. This reliable power source is dependent only on sunlight, which is in abundance in most developing nations. Alternatively, the system's batteries may also be charged by wind, hydro power, or a small generator.

PV powered units show much higher reliability as compared to gas units. The mean time between failures for PV vaccine refrigerators was 2.6 years in Uganda and 4 years in the Gambia. The failure rate of kerosene refrigerators was much higher.

An evaluation of solar energy use in the Cold Chain in Africa concluded that PV vaccine refrigeration improved the long-term reliability of the Cold Chain by increasing the mean time between failures. PV refrigerators also permit a more strategic placement in remote areas and therefore are able to serve a wider area and greater population.

Solar vaccine coolers are typically of very rugged construction, for reduced service. They generally feature only one moving part (a sealed compressor), with excellent temperature control and reserve cooling capacity, running only 27% of the time in a hot 43-degree C (110-degree F) environment.

For more information, see "Renewable Energy for Rural Health Clinics", September 1998; Published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory


 Web Ecommerce Server

Nearly 70 percent of the Internet's top electronic-commerce sites use Oracle technology. From Amazon to Egghead, to Yahoo! and Excite, the most popular Web sites use Oracle to help businesses expand their markets globally, and better serve and retain their customers. The current version, Oracle8i, allows businesses to develop, deploy, and manage their electronic-commerce applications easily, with modest training requirements.

With Oracle8i and Oracle Application Server 4 at its core, supported by advanced application development tools and a simplified management framework, Oracle's electronic-commerce platform is the industry's fastest, most scalable, and highly available platform for serving Web-based applications.

Oracle offers a complete suite of integrated, electronic-commerce applications for an electronic storefront.

The system features Payment Server, an electronic payment system for enabling secure commerce transactions which support multiple, concurrent payment mechanisms. It supports electronic payment from CyberCash, First Data, VeriFone and other vendors, making available multiple payment types such as credit cards, micro payments and electronic cheques.

Merchants can quickly create their own on-line presence and take full advantage of the Web as a new global marketplace. Oracle WebServer showcases a business' product line of both hard and soft goods, including text, images and sounds in a single repository, linked seamlessly together.

This enables the delivery of dynamic content for a personalised shopping experience and seamless interface with third party systems for easy management of order entry, inventories, payment processing and order fulfilment.

Oracle also tracks items selected by the customer and maintains shopper profiles, allowing merchants to custom-tailor Web site content and special promotions or discounts based on individual shopping preferences. Additionally, consumers can perform extensive searches for items based on keywords and themes and rank the relevancy of results.

Oracle's Web Request Broker links Web servers to live applications and databases which can dynamically generate HTML-formatted data in real time. Unlike the "stateless" HTTP model that cannot support transactional sessions, WebServer supports consistent, high-performance database transaction integrity, which is essential for conducting electronic commerce transactions.

For more information about Oracle, see

SMDS Cellular Communications

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service) is a means for many different kinds of computers to communicate with each other at high speed, over public networks like the Internet.

This accepted international standard works best when there are bursts of high-density traffic, like video and audio, which require two distant systems to be kept "in synch", tightly co-ordinated. Ity also is well-suited to multi-point communications, where many people need to receive the same digital data and participate in it, for example in video teleconferencing. Finally, SMDS integrates cleanly with existing local-area networks, creating a wide-area virtual connection that can be worldwide if necessary, running at many different data speeds on a variety of compatible equipment, wiring and wireless transports.

Recent applications of SMDS on directional digital cellular networks have proven particularly successful for high-speed communications over large distances, where wiring, optical cable or microwave communication is not available. In Israel and the Middle East in general, SMDS Cellular is well-understood.


definition from

SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service) is a public, packet-switched service aimed at enterprises that need to exchange large amounts of data with other enterprises over the wide-area network on a nonconstant or "bursty" basis. SMDS provides an architecture for this kind of data exchange and a set of services. In general, SMDS extends the performance and efficiencies of a company's local area network (LANs) over a wide area on a switched, as-needed basis.

SMDS is connectionless, meaning that there is no need to set up a connection through the network before sending data. This provides bandwidth on demand for the "bursty" data transmission typically found on LANs.

SMDS packets contain up to 7168 bytes of data, which is large enough to accept the most common LAN packets. Each packet includes the source address and the destination address and is sent separately from other packets.

Each enterprise using SMDS is assigned from one to sixteen unique SMDS addresses, depending on needs. An address is a ten digit number that looks like an ordinary telephone number.

SMDS also provides for broadcasting packets to multiple SMDS addresses. Each SMDS company is assigned one or more group addresses that can be used to define destination groups. Group addressing is similar to LAN multicasting. It lets routing protocols, such as TCP/IP, use dynamic address resolution and routing updates.

Since SMDS is a public service, any SMDS customer can exchange data with any other customer. The SMDS Interest Group, an association of service providers, equipment manufacturers, and users, develops technical specifications, promotes awareness of SMDS, stimulates new applications, and ensures worldwide service interoperability, working with its international affiliates. Their home page provides a list of companies providing SMDS services.


SMDS Fastrak
from Pacific Bell


Packet network reliability
Security-closed user's group
LAN-like performance
Logical fully meshed connectivity
Easy add-and-drop capability
Inter-enterprise communications
Cost-effective applications for multiple locations within the service area
Support for multiple protocols (TCP/IP, IPX, etc.)
Smooth migration to ATM-based services


LAN interconnection
Virtual reality
Teleradiology and telemedicine
Large file transfer, including images and multimedia files
Collaborative prepress, printing, and publishing
High-speed access to the Internet/World Wide Web


Solar-Mechanical Radio

A high-quality AM-FM radio has been donated to the Al-Kaabneh installation by Greenstar.

This radio has two available power sources: the primary is from a small solar panel on the back. The secondary power source is a hand crank, which will operate the radio for half an hour with about 50 turns.

When sunlight is available, the radio operates on solar; when it begins to fade, a gauge begins supplying power from the mechanical system. It is anticipated that the radio will be used in the school, and for general news purposes by the village council.


Comment Chattez-Vous?

by Niall McKay, Wired

You arrive at Toronto International Airport, but you can't speak English or French. The immigration officer leads you to a computer terminal, where everything he or she says is instantly translated into your native language.

Touting that this vision will be a reality is Uni-Verse, a company that launched its new Diplomat, a real-time chat translation software. "We're the only act in town right now that offers online, multilingual, multidirectional chat translation," said Uni-Verse CEO Bruce Lichorowic.

Diplomat is an Internet relay chat client based on GlobalLink's translation software. A user installs the software on a desktop computer and logs into a standard text-based Internet relay chat server. But the typed conversation is routed through Uni-Verse's servers, which act as a proxy to translate between English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

The San Clemente, California company also provides Web Client, an HTML version of the product, which can be embedded into any Web page. Diplomat is priced at US$39.95 and costs $9.95 per month to run. Web Client software is free but the service also charges a $9.95 monthly fee. The company is currently offering Uni-Verse Server, a server-side version of its products, to corporations for applications such as text support.

"With the Uni-Verse Server, users can type in their request or problem in their native language and the support person can reply in English," said Lichorowic. He believes that Uni-Verse may benefit corporations, especially considering that multilingual employees are often expensive to hire. However, despite the widespread adoption of translation software by companies like AltaVista, machine translation is still an imperfect science, according to Jim Robinson, a translation-technology consultant with Language Partners International.

"Their usefulness really depends on what you're trying to translate," he said. "But machine translation software is a long way off perfect translations." Uni-Verse provides about 90 percent accuracy, according to Lichorowic.

"It's not bad for machine translation software," said Lichorowic. "Especially considering it only takes 20 milliseconds to translate a sentence."

Public Access Touchscreen

Powered by a state-of-the-art multimedia computer, the Greenstar touchscreen is a super-bright flat-panel display, which is light, compact, and highly durable. It is fitted with a touchscreen that translates light, quick touches to the screen into mouse movements and clicks. Thus, any software designed with a graphical user interface like Windows can be controlled by a touchscreen.

The use of the touch interface makes access to information extremely simple, even for those with no computer literacy. Typically, a software "shell" wrapped around a standard Web browser is used, which removes all conventional desktop items from the user's view -- such as pull-down menus, scroll bars, checkboxes, lists, etc. The user only sees simple objects to touch, and large, easy navigation buttons like "back" and "print".

Touchscreens are often built into "kiosks" and used for broad audiences where multilingual capacities are important; where security and protection of equipment is a concern; they have been successful worldwide in a variety of government, banking, and retail applications. Kiosks often include a magstripe card reader, receipt printer, and other items; they are referred to as "the 21st Century ATM."

Greenstar uses hardware and system software from MicroTouch. The hardware is a 15" LCD, called Profile; the software is called Prospector, which runs alongside an Internet browser such as Microsoft Explorer or Netscape Navigator. The displays and graphics in the online website are the same as those seen on the touchscreen, allowing the Greenstar information center to run very fast, in "local" mode (typical for kiosk applications, where updates are needed only periodically) or in "remote" mode (for access by people worldwide with their own computers).