WiMAX in Haiti

Posted by Sam Churchill on

A network of ten WiMAX base stations is being shipped to Haiti by Singapore-based SmartBridges Solutions as part of ongoing efforts by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to improve communications facilities for the earthquake-stricken country.

Telecommunications in Haiti was been severely disrupted due to the 7.0 Earthquake on January 12, 2009. The two known Haitian public-safety answering points were destroyed. The Haitian police land mobile radio (LMR) system, which consists of a three-site trunked system, also was reportedly destroyed, as was much of the wireline infrastructure.

The ITU-led project will use WiMAX and Wi-Fi technology to set up wireless phone and internet connectivity at 100 holding centres for displaced people. SmartBridge is also contributing 40 Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) devices as well as engineers who will work alongside ITU experts to help get the network up and running.

The ITU has been involved in the relief effort in Haiti since soon after the earthquake on 12 January, setting up emergency facilities including satellite and cellular systems, whilst existing WiMAX networks operated by domestic ISPs were amongst the first to be restored in the aftermath of the disaster which rendered much of the terrestrial infrastructure non-operational. The ten-story headquarters of Haiti’s fixed line PSTN operator, Teleco, was reduced to rubble by the quake, which claimed an estimated 200,000 lives.

Inveneo, a 501c3 nonprofit social enterprise, has set up a WiFi network in Haiti (below). Here are their Flickr Photos and Twitter feeds.

Inveneo engineers Mark Summer and Andris Bjornson have brought critical WiFi communications to eleven relief agency locations with minimal equipment and installation time. Their long-distance WiFi network have immediate impact when 20-100 people are sharing bandwidth at each location.

International staff are able to make high-quality Skype video calls. Inveneo’s network is managed with the help of OpenNMS Group, to monitor network usage and then use other tools for traffic shaping, making sure that each user, at each node, has equal amount of bandwidth for his or her communication needs.

Gregg Swanson, director of Humaninet explains that humanitarian organizations are increasingly aware of the promise of geospatial information systems, and are utilizing tools like Google Earth.

Humaninet’s Maps 2.0 tool enables humanitarian organizations to post, access, share, modify, and use critical, geo-referenced information in emergency relief operations, post-emergency reconstruction, and continuing development projects.

Google Earth has been crucial for Haiti relief, says Wired. Mercy Corp data points are fed to Map Action in Haiti. The Open Geospatial Consortium is leading the development of standards for geospatial and location based services. CrisisCampPDX was one of a dozen similar events organized recently by CrisisCommons (blog). Haiti-connect.org has more info on building a mesh network.

Ustream or Livestream, with embedded live chat, is hard to beat for getting the word out. YouTube videos can also be embedded into Google Maps and Google Earth.

The City of Portland Water Bureau, Office of Emergency Management, and Bureau of Technology Services are seeking proposals for an emergency notification and call-out solution that will meet current and future notification needs for the City of Portland.

Dailywireless has more information on the Haiti disaster at Mapping the Haitian Disaster, Haiti: Satellites Up, Fiber Down, Haiti: Telethons and CrisisCamps, and my PdxHaiti technical volunteer web site.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, February 12th, 2010 at 12:56 pm .

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