Vanuatu deployment sitrep March 30.

  • Our first team member has been on the ground for 24 hours and has established contact with local partners as well as other responding organisations.
  • Meeting with CNS (local IT company in Port Vila), they are providing DTL with equipment storage, office space and additional volunteers.
  • Arrangements have been made for onwards travel to Tanna.
  • The first equipment shipment has arrived in Sydney and will be collected for onwards shipping to Port Vila, Vanuatu.
  • The 2nd equipment shipment is due in Sydney tomorrow.
  • Additional team members will arrive over the next two days.
  • Wireless signal survey in Port Vila initiated (see images below) data is being processed at the moment for use in digital mapping.

 

Port Vila survey 1

Port Vila survey 2

Port Vila survey 3

The meeting with Digicel (the countries largest cellphone provider) produced a good insight in the damage to the telecoms infrastructure, the recovery efforts and the most urgent needs.

All northern islands (less impacted) have been restored, quality is not always perfect but it’s workable
Remaining issues are for Erromango, Emae (Shepherd islands) and Tanna:

– Erromango (population around 3000):

  • Situation: No coverage, 60m tower went down during the cyclone, it is 50 kms from Efate (Port Vila island) and was normally relaying data to get to Tanna
  • Need: temporary satellite link with E1 capabilities

– Emae (population around 2500):

  • Situation: No coverage, tower went down during the cyclone
  • Need: temporary satellite link with E1 capabilities

– Tanna (population around 45000):

  • Situation: Partial coverage, operating on VSAT at the moment but solution is not stable, they had no network yesterday pretty much the whole day. 3 of 9 positions are up at the moment and they are working on the others. A VSAT team will go there this weekend to work on a new installation.
  • Need: backup E1 VSAT solution to cover any outage and make the new installation easier without downtime. Equipment required: 5 x satellite link with E1 capabilities, BUC with 60W power, 3G Huawei compatible sites, Wifi units

We are currently planning on how we can best support Digicel in meeting these needs.

Please support our work by making an online donation via our GoFundMe page.

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Welcome Home deployment; Columbia MO.

 

ColumbiaMO

Team Rubicon is like us an organisation which sprang from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In the years since we have rubbed shoulders with them in disaster zones across the world and we have assisted in a number of their deployments. We have especially close ties with their Region 7 team with a number of our volunteers also working with Team Rubicon. They’re an absolutely fantastic organisation who not only help people affected by disasters but also does great work for the many veterans who volunteer with them.

When the Team Rubicon Region 7 people asked us to assist with a slightly different project we jumped at the opportunity. During the weekend of February 28 – March 1st they are working on “Welcome Home Project”. The Welcome Home project in Columbia, MO is converting an old motel into temporary and long-term housing for veterans. They’ve asked Team Rubicon Region 7 and friends to come in, demolish the interior the old structure, and get it ready for remodelling. More details via this link.

Other organisations involved in this project are: Veterans United, Team RWBStudent Veterans of America and the Marine Corps League. Food will apparently be provided by Operation BBQ Relief!

Disaster Tech Lab has been asked to provide internet access and VoIP services at the work location and the nearby VFW building were the volunteers will be staying during the project.

For this short deployment we are still looking for 2 more volunteers who are available to install our equipment in both locations on Friday evening, take it down on Sunday evening and can provide support, if needed, during the time in between. If you’re available and interested please email us on: contact@disastertechlab.org

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Launching down under.

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With offices in Ireland and the USA we are now taking the next step in our global expansion by establishing an Australian branch of Disaster Tech Lab. Our recent work in the Philippines has resulted in an influx of Australian volunteers and establishing a permanent presence there is the next logical step. Not only does Australia have it’s own fair share of disasters, a base there will serve as a springboard for deployments across South-East Asia decreasing our response time. (Note: this team is also open to volunteers from New Zealand and Tasmania).

We already have a core team of volunteers but are actively recruiting for more. If you have one or more of the following skills and are interesting in volunteering and gaining some invaluable experience than please complete the form below.

Wanted skills : 

  • WiFi engineer
  • VoIP engineer
  • Vsat/UMTS/Cellular engineer
  • Alternative energy (solar/wind) specialists
  • VHF/UHF/UVHF/HAM radio
  • Fundraiser
  • Marketing
  • Logistic manager
Fields marked with an * are required
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December 2014 Philippines deployment, technical report.

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With the end of the December Philippines deployment now just over a month behind us we have completed the technical report for this deployment. Following is a short summary;

Mission statement:

  • To provide internet access to the main buildings & locations in Camp Arapal.
  • To establish an internal (and external) VoIP service.
  • To provide basic technical training in maintaining the network.
  • To provide multiple redundant backhaul links.

Site description:

Camp Arapal is located in a rural area South-West of Bogo city on the island of Cebu. There are no terrestrial communication services. Electricity supply is via an intermittent utility network and a backup diesel generator on-site. Geographically it’s located in an area typified by rolling hills of volcanic rock. Camp Arapal has a resident population but also serves as a hub for the wider region as it houses a school, runs lively-hood programs and a very busy church.

Project description:

During an earlier deployment in early 2014 we had already installed a C-band satellite dish on a hill beside the main building. Additionally an Aruba Networks 3600 controller and two Aruba AP135 WiFi access points had been installed inside the main building. However due to technical issued and the building work going on but the satellite service as well as the AP’s had stopped functioning. Part of the task-list for this mission included getting the Aruba AP’s and controller working again as well as establishing additional backhauls as the satellite service was too costly to use on a continuing basis and would be configured to serve as a back-up service for when the other methods of backhaul stopped functioning (for instance because of a typhoon).

sat view arapal

 

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The above satellite imagery shows the lay-out of Camp Arapal with the different areas which needed to be connected marked. To give a more 3-dimensional view the second image shows the view from location 1 looking towards location 6/7.

Signal tests had proven that both location 1/2 (dubbed My Left Foot Hill/MLF) and location 7 (Shepherds Hill) had 3G coverage coming from a Globe telecoms mast about 13.5 kilometres to the North-West. Therefore 3G gateway devices were installed in both locations (1 & 7) to serve as backhaul links. In total there were 6 locations that required to be connected . These were spread across the camp. The below network diagram shows the layout of the network of the equipment used. As there were multiple routers in the network as well as multiple internet gateways we used VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol) to manage the network dynamics. Follow the link for more details on how this works. Auto failover is configured in case a router or port failure (power outage, device failure, or device being unplugged).

network diagram

 

During this project we used Cambium ePMP (integrated) devices to build the Point-2-Multipoint links. This was our first deployment using these devices and they have proven themselves to be easy to install, easy to configure and very reliable. We used the model with the integrated antenna which simplified the installation. As VRRP routers we used Mikrotik RB750UP’s a very low-cost but reliable router which also gave no problems at all. Globe Telecom had supplied us with a couple of their Globe Tattoo USB 3G sticks. These  gave some issues, mainly because they are consumer devices and not designed to be used in the type of network we were building but some fiddling, configuration changes and testing got everything to work in the long run. The Aruba 3600 controller and 2 AP135’s in the main building were reconfigured and are now providing WiFi access in and around the building. We had shipped a number of Aruba Networks AP’s antennas, POE’s and other equipment from the US to be used in the network but as this shipment was still stuck in customs we were forced to source certain equipment locally. Hence the other buildings were all equipped with TP-Link TL-WR700N WiFi routers to provide WiFi internet access.

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To handle the VoIP services we installed a Grandstream UCM6102 in the main building and Cisco 7940 desk-phones in each building. In one building we installed a Cambium C3VoIP-150 ATA device with a standard phone.

While the installation and configuration was ongoing our techs also ran classes for local volunteers teaching them networking basics ranging from IP addressing and routing to how to crimp Cat5 cabling and how to install the various devices. Beside the obvious benefit that it enables the local people to carry out basic maintenance on the network thereby guaranteeing its continuity it is also a means of introducing new, valuable skills into the community. Skills that might make people more employable and able to secure or improve a source of income.

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An additional, and not insignificant, part of this deployment is that we had a radio tower built-in MLF-Hill. This tower will serve a number of purposes; it improves the LOS from this high point in the camp to all other areas but it  will also serve as a location for equipment that will be used for longer distance Point-2-Point links to other communities in the area or to a (better) source of back-haul connectivity. Since the tower has been erected the organisation managing Camp Arapal have also suggested using it to install FM radio equipment so it can be used for a local community radio station.

As one can see from the long list of equipment used network deployments in this line of work are significantly different from those in the “first world”. In addition to the usual challenges of the physical environment, unreliable power supply etc. we also have to deal with logistical issues of getting equipment to the location. Sometimes equipment doesn’t show up, or doesn’t show up on time requiring a high level of improvisation and adaptability. Our networks might not always win beauty competitions but it achieves what is needed; getting much-needed connectivity to those areas and people who are in dire need of it. To quote a recent report published by Deloitte on behalf of Internet.org:

Internet connectivity has already changed many aspects of the lives of individuals in developed economies and provided far-reaching economic and social benefits. Extending these opportunities is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

If, after reading the above, you feel like joining Disaster Tech Lab as a volunteer you can do so by following this link.

As a non-profit we are depending on private and corporate donations to enable us to continue doing our work. Generous and much appreciated donors can find our how to donate here.

We would also like to thank our sponsors: Cambium Networks, Aruba Networks, Grandstream as well as our two tech-volunteers Martin & Tom.

To finish of here are some more pictures from the deployment:

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The new radio tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree mounted Cambium ePMP device.

Tree mounted Cambium ePMP device.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin doing link-testing.

Martin doing link-testing.

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January charity fundraising raffle.

RAffle logo

It’s time for our first charity fundraising raffle of 2015!

This time we don’t have just one prize, we have 5!

Goal Zero, our sponsor of solar powered equipment that we use on all our deployments has donated 4  Torch 250 flashlights and a Yeti 150 solar power kit (incl solar panel). We will draw 5 names from all entries, the first name will win the Goal Zero 150 solar kit and the remaining 3 names will all win a Goal Zero Torch 250!

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All you need to enter is to go to our GoFundMe page and make a minimum donation of $5  between today January 15 and January 31st. Of course you are free to make a larger donation or to even set up a recurring monthly donation.

 

More details about the prizes:

Torch 250 flashlight:

Get the most reliable emergency LED light for any situation with the Torch 250 Flashlight. Built-in USB charging cable, solar panel and hand crank for bright light anywhere. Red light for emergencies, and USB port to charge your phone.

  • Multiple Light Options for Every Situation Use as a flashlight, floodlight or red emergency light. Save on power with bright and half-bright modes.
  • Stay Connected During an Outage Integrated USB port charges phones and boosts tablets to stay connected. Long-lasting, advanced lithium battery.
  • Recharge Anywhere Built-in USB charging cable, solar panel and hand-crank for light anywhere. Durable, rugged construction.

 

 Yeti 150 solar kit (incl solar panel):

A plug-and-play generator for emergencies, camping, or wherever you need power. The Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator is a gas-free source of portable power to keep lights, phones and laptops powered on through any situation. It’s your portable, mini powerhouse.

 

 

As we strive to meet the legal requirements below are the Terms & Conditions:
Entry requirements
To be eligible to enter the raffle, entrants must:
Be over 18 years of age by 1 January 2013
Not be a member of Disaster Tech Lab staff.
Have a donation of at least $25 between January 15 and January 31st 2015.
Prizes
The prize consists of the following:
1 x Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar kit to the value of $429
4 x Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight to the value of $79
Target
Applicable legislation
This raffle is conducted under the legislation of the Republic of Ireland
The target of this raffle is to raise the minimum amount of $1000. If this amount is not raised by the end date Disaster Tech Lab reserves the right to extend the raffle period.
Closing date
Closing date for entering is January 31st 2015 with the draw taking place on February 1st 2015. Any tickets purchased after this date will be disqualified and the purchase price refunded.
Winners
The winner will be drawn by an independent person in the DTL offices in Abbey Co. Galway on February 1st 2015. The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The winner will be notified within 3 working days of the closing date by email. The winner’s name will be announced on the Disaster Tech Lab website (www.disastertechlab.org). Full address details will not be disclosed. Also:
The winner will be contacted by email. In the event that we cannot contact the winner within 28 days after the draw, the prize will be awarded to a new winner.
The prizes are non-transferable and only consist of what is listed above.
By entering the draw, winners confirm their agreement to take part in any associated publicity.
Please note
Disaster Tech Lab respects, and is committed to protecting your privacy. The personal information you provide will remain private and will only be used for the purposes outlined here.
Disaster Tech Lab reserves the right to amend, withdraw or terminate the raffle or alter the raffle at any time without prior notice.
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Give a man internet & he’ll surf for a day, teach him how to network and he’ll email you forever…

A big part of our work is sharing our knowledge and making sure that we leave the communities to whose aid we come better prepared.
That means that we teach them to maintain the technology that we provide them with. There would be no point in installing something that won’t be repaired when it breaks, the developing world is already rife with collapsed and abandoned aid projects.

That’s why our team currently on the ground in Cebu the Philippines has started teaching local volunteers the basics of computer networking, and even the case of wireless networks the first lesson has all to do with wires (cables).

Martin Keding ran a class yesterday teaching volunteers how to splice ethernet cable. The newly accumulated knowledge was immediately put into practice running lengths of cable as part of installing another Cambium Networks ePMP device. Tomorrows class will cover basic IP addressing and “troubleshooting the network”.

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Cebu update December 10 2014.

Arapal Camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitrep received from our team in Camp Arapal (North Cebu) this morning:

  • Power has been restored to the camp.
  • 1st Point-to-Point wireless link between hill 1 and main camp is up and running
  • On hill 1 a 3G router, ATA and analogue phone has been installed.
  • Work on second Point-to-Point link  from hill 2 is underway.
  • After running clinics in surrounding areas the Medical team has trained a calls of 40+ local volunteers in 1st Aid today.

More updates and hopefully some pictures soon!

Remember people, keep the donations coming. These updates show you how your money is spent!

http://www.gofundme.com/CampArapal

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Typhoon #Ruby / #Hagupit update.

As typhoon Ruby was making landfall in East Samar our team members started arriving in Cebu. With people flying in from Winnipeg, Belfast, London, Los Angeles and Sidney there was a worry that flights might be cancelled but luckily everyone arrived more or less on time. The hotel they were staying in was already filling up with families seeking refuge from the typhoon. On the way from the airport to the hotel signs of ongoing evacuations were visible everywhere with schools and other buildings being used as shelters.

evacuation-center-in-cebu-city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact with Camp Arapal told us that the camp was full with refugees from the typhoon and that it would be better if we postponed our arrival by a day. This was actually beneficial as we were able to send a delegation to a Ruby Task Force meeting organised by the local authorities. The meeting was attended by local authorities as well as NGO’s such as All Hands Volunteers (one of our partner organisations), Islamic relief, Project Hope and others. The meeting provided a good briefing on the scale of the impact as well as coordinate with other NGO’s and make them aware of our presence and capacities.

IMG_1267

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the meeting was going on our techs Martin & Tom got their geek on and fixed the hotel’s wifi.

On the same day several boxes of supplies & equipment which we had shipped from the US in early October (thanks to the Handang Tumulong Foundation) arrived in Cebu. Again a case of perfect timing. The team and the supplies have since made it to Camp Arapal. While power is still out at the camp our techs have carried out their site survey and will start building the wifi P2P links tomorrow. In the meantime the medical team got stuck in straight away also and has already treated several medium casualties and one urgent one. The first medical clinic is planned for tomorrow. More updates to follow soon.

In the meantime your donations are still very much needed. As our work has goes on so will the costs. Your donation will allow us to purchase more medicine locally which will be administered to people attending the clinics. Please make a donation online and share this blogpost. You can by following this link.

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*WIN* Fundraising Raffle *WIN*

RAffle logo

UPDATE: As we only got partway to our goal of raising $3500 we have extended the deadline for this raffle to December 16th.

Don’t miss your chance to win and enter now!

As part of our ongoing fundraising efforts we are always looking for new ways to entice people to support us and ways to give something back to our supporters.

That’s why have come up with a fundraising raffle.

Ekahau, one of our long term supporters has donated a complete set consisting of their Site Survey Pro product(including 3D Planner and Ekahau NIC) to raffle. The RRP for this fantastic prize is $4400!

Full details of the product can be found here:
http://www.ekahau.com/wifidesign/ekahau-site-survey

All you need to do is MAKE A $25 DONATION TO OUR CURRENT CAMPAIGN ON GOFUNDME Between today and December 4th.

enter-to-win1-300x249

You can off course donate more than $25 and every multiple of this amount will give you an additional chance to win this prize!

As we strive to meet the legal requirements below are the Terms & Conditions:

Entry requirements

To be eligible to enter the raffle, entrants must:

Be over 18 years of age by 1 January 2013
Not be a member of Disaster Tech Lab staff.
Have a donation of at least $25 between November 26th and December 4th.

Prizes
The prize consists of the following:

1 x Ekahau Site Survey Pro (including 3D Planner and Ekahau NIC) to the value of $4400

Target

Applicable legislation
This raffle is conducted under the legislation of the Republic of Ireland

The target of this raffle is to raise the minimum amount of $3500. If this amount is not raised by the end date Disaster Tech Lab reserves the right to extend the raffle period.

Closing date
Closing date for entering is December 4th with the draw taking place on December 15th. Any tickets purchased after this date will be disqualified and the purchase price refunded.

Winners
The winner will be drawn by an independent person in Hollohans Pub in Abbey Co. Galway on December 15th 2014. The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The winner will be notified within 3 working days of the closing date by email. The winner’s name will be announced on the Disaster Tech Lab website (www.disastertechlab.org). Full address details will not be disclosed. Also:

The winner will be contacted by email. In the event that we cannot contact the winner within 28 days after the draw, the prize will be awarded to a new winner.

The prizes are non-transferable and only consist of what is listed above.
By entering the draw, winners confirm their agreement to take part in any associated publicity.

Please note
Disaster Tech Lab respects, and is committed to protecting your privacy. The personal information you provide will remain private and will only be used for the purposes outlined here.

Disaster Tech Lab reserves the right to amend, withdraw or terminate the raffle or alter the raffle at any time without prior notice.

Ekahau, Inc. corporate logo

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Increased Philippine participation in upcoming deployment to Cebu.

DTL has always strived to include local volunteers during our deployment. Having local participation has several benefits, it keeps our overheads down, it gives us increased local knowledge and awareness and most of all it guarantees continuity of effort. Not only can we ” leave”  some of our knowledge and skills behind but we also create a local capacity able to follow up on the work that we’ve done.

That’s why we’re delighted to be able to announce that our upcoming deployment to Cebu has a substantial amount of local support. Not only do we have several volunteers based in Manila and Cebu but we have been approached by the Fifth TAS (Technical & Administrative Services Brigade – Reserve) . This is a reserve unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The unit comprises medical doctors, nurses, veterinarians, teachers, engineers, lawyers etc and is based in Cebu city.

The 5th TAS has offered to support our deployment with both personnel as well as logistical support.

To receive this level of support is an honor and will be of great benefit to the quality and impact of our mission.

Remember, we still need your support to make sure that this deployment is a success. Please go to our fundraising page and make a donation today!

5th_Technical_&_Administrative_Services_Brigade_(Reserve)_Unit_Seal

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