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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.


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)





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

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



  • 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.

** A 15 megabit satellite uplink was deployed on the roof of the Red Hook Initiative building on 20121112. It is operational and providing connectivity to the global Net for the community mesh.

  • 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.

** The network team at Red Hook made contact with Russel Senior of Personal Telco. He has six Proxim Tsunami units (model MP.11 5054-R). They need 48V PoE injectors to function but if they can be sourced they could be deployed to hook the community mesh into an uplink to the global Net in the event that the satlink deployed on 20121112 is insufficient or must be shut down. He also has some Alvarion equipment in reserve. There is an active e-mail chain pertaining to their acquisition. He asks that, if the Proxim units are requested, that we help pay for shipping from Portland, Oregon.


  • 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.

  • Over one dozen Ubiquti Nano- and Picostations were flashed with the Commotion Wireless firmware after supplies of laptop computers dried up.


  • 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.


  • 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.

** The status of these laptops is unknown. We were unable to acquire them last weekend.

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

** Project Byzantium can provide standard .iso images and .zip archives of Byzantium Linux along with instructions for installing it on USB drives.

** I have around a half-dozen USB drives with Byzantium Linux!Sandy Respin that can be donated to the cause. --The Doctor


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