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Red Hook Initiative mesh update: first edition

This is the first of periodic updates I'll make as I gather information.

About

Internet connectivity is largely out in Red Hook. (Open question: How out?) A collection of initiatives are working together to rapidly build infrastructure to provide free, reliable Internet connectivity to Red Hook.

The goal of this project is twofold: to provide Internet connectivity in the short-term for the disaster relief effort, and to create an infrastructure for future disaster responses.

Groups involved:

(Shots courtesy of Becky Kazansky)

shot1

shot2

shot3

Solution

Bring in a backbone via satellite or point-to-point wireless connections. Deploy a mesh network over Red Hook to provide connectivity.

The software running the mesh network is a combination of Byzantium on PCs and Commotion on network equipment. The mesh protocol is OLSR.

Once this project is deployed, the Red Hook Initiative will lead the charge to train community members to take charge of the network.

Updates

Backbone

  • Frank Sanborn from FEMA and the ITDRC can use their contacts to deploy a satellite uplink. The solution can be available for a time period on the order of weeks.

  • There's a call for contacts at Proxim to acquire a pair of microwave radio point-to-point connections. The idea would be to beam to Lower Manhattan. The time period of this is potentially longer.

Mesh

  • Jonathan Baldwin has been working on a mesh network in Red Hook over the past year. He works with Red Hook Initiative to identify community issues and utilizes mesh networks to implement solutions. He is known for his mesh-based mapping software Tidepools.

  • The Byzantium team drove up from DC on Friday to work as field operations to set up the mesh. They and Jonathan have set up a few more nodes and have covered Coffey Park (map), a key distribution area.

Relations

  • Frank Sanborn from FEMA and Red Hook Initiative are in contact with the Mayor's Office and are working to gain access to schools and NYCHA buildings as key vantage points for the mesh.

Gear

  • Open Technology Initiative has donated 11 NanoStations (good for directional long distances) and a number of PicoStations (good for filling out a space).

  • Sean McIntyre loaned a cache of Commotion-compatable routers and GuruPlugs.

  • ITP has offered to loan a couple of portable solar units.

  • Alpha One Labs is donating and loaning a number of laptops to run Byzantium.

  • Sean McIntyre is running a USB drive donation drive at ITP. These are required to boot into Byzantium.

Documentation

  • Becky Kazansky has been filming onsite for her and submitted a story to a blog she writes for (link).
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