Our mission is to help restore communications to the local authorities as well as the civilian population to encourage coordination and order. Since the end of February, Haiti Connect has mobilized and deployed qualified telecommunications engineers and support staff to build a number of Wi-Fi Mesh Networks in the affected regions of Haiti. These networks are suitable for both Voice, Video and Data traffic enabling Internet Access and Telephone Services.
There are several advantages of using Wi-Fi equipment:
• It is easy to install, configure and use.
• A wireless network works well in rough terrain and can be installed quickly.
• It uses unlicensed radio spectrum and hence avoids license applications.
• There are a large number of Wi-Fi enabled devices already in Haiti, and it will be easy to connect to existing equipment.
• The equipment is relatively inexpensive.
Prior to flying to Haiti, each team will stage the network and pack everything into steel containers (for security purposes) in Deerfield, FL. Then the team will fly into Haiti and set up their base camp. During our time in Haiti, we are maintaining our base camp; carry out survey sites, coordinate with telecom companies and agencies in Haiti and deploy equipment to establish point-to-point links to roll out a local network. The length of this project depends on the conditions and challenges we are faced with when we arrive, as well as funding. Ideally, we expect this project to last at least 12 months.
We will be using existing buildings and towers that have power and security, although we plan to bring generators and solar panels to help with the power challenges we will face. We are in discussions with the police and local telephone companies about placing equipment in their buildings. We will expand our network from there, building a mesh network from the point-to-point links to distribute the signal locally so we can provide direct connectivity to surrounding buildings as well as provide a “Wi-Fi cloud” that Wi-Fi enabled devices such as smartphones, laptops, iPhones, and VOIP phones can connect to. Our initial focus will be giving connectivity to government, local police stations, schools, hospitals, and other public areas. This type of configuration of a Wi-Fi network was used in the disaster relief after hurricanes Katrina and Charley in the United States.
Haiti Connect is dedicated to work with and for the people of Haiti. Our mission is to build a network that can be used for years to come, channeling information to and from the Haitian people. We also intend to have the network maintained by the local people, both improving the infrastructure and providing jobs in Haiti.
We realize that the knowledge we obtain from this project will provide us with insight on how to rapidly deploy telecommunication services to other disaster relief efforts and we hope that we can assist others in need when the time comes. It is the wonderful people that we have met while trying to put this project together that will make this a reality.