Chatty Beetle Overview

Potential users of a newly-installed Emergency Alarm System in Vaitupu, Tuvalu are trained to use Chatty Beetle.

What is Chatty Beetle?

A Chatty Beetle terminal
A Chatty Beetle terminal sends and receives short text messages via Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD) service.

Chatty Beetle is a portable Iridium satellite terminal that permits text-based alerts and messaging in remote locations, where communication options are limited.

Its rugged design can withstand harsh, humid conditions, its case is virtually indestructible, and it can operate on a wide variety of AC power, 12 volts DC or on its internal batteries.

Chatty Beetle gives communities basic alerts of potential weather hazards. It also supports two‐way messaging, allowing operators to provide status reports and other field observations. This has resulted in improved services and timely receipt of forecasts and warnings.

This device was conceived by RANET’s Pacific Communications Steering Committee to help Pacific Region disaster managers warn residents of approaching tsunamis at night.

How does it work?

Messages are sent and received from each terminal through the Iridium Satellite. The RANET gateway reads the message, interprets its routing info and any special commands (e.g. alert level), then sends it back to the intended terminal.

Components of the Chatty Beetle system.
Components of the Chatty Beetle system.

Features of Chatty Beetle

  • Hardened terminal designed to work in harsh environmental conditions
  • Can operate in both stationed and mobile applications
  • Two‐way messaging to remote locations
  • Audible and visual cues for alarms on terminal
  • Can operate on battery for 36+ hours
  • Able to control external devices (e.g. sirens) through relay and serial port functionality
  • Capable of sending messages from terminal or web interface to email, or IM account, or as SMS
  • Capable of sending text messages to cellular phone

See Chatty Beetle in use

The following video describes the implementation of the UNDP NAPA Early Warning System in Tuvalu. Jump to 05:55 to hear more about Chatty Beetle’s role in this system:

Where are they deployed?

Over 100 Chatty Beetle terminals have been deployed throughout the Pacific Region. The complete list of countries using this technology can be found at:

Learn more

For details on Chatty Beetle’s operation:
Chatty Beetle Terminal Operations Manual (pdf)

For a print-friendly brochure:
Chatty Beetle Brochure (pdf)

To log in to the Chatty Beetle System Control page: (registered users only)

ContactChatty Beetle logo

Phone: 1‐808‐956‐9557


Associate Director
Pacific Intl. Training Desk
2424 Maile Way
Saunders Hall 713
Honolulu, HI 96822


The Vision of the Chatty Beetle came from the Pacific community as a whole, but it was championed by Bruce Best (University of Guam), Colin Schulz, and Garry Clarke. A special thanks to Bryan Hodge from the Australian Bureau of Meteorological for critical technical and engineering advice. Additional thanks are owed to the US NOAA National Weather Service Pacific Region Headquarters and Ed Young (formerly Deputy Director of PRH) for guidance and leadership. Appreciation to the USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for its support to develop and pilot the Chatty Beetle.