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New High-Speed Network Connects Dadaab Aid Agencies For Collaboration

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To answer the pressing challenges encountered by agencies working in the Dadaab camp, NetHope, Inveneo and Cisco came together to create a new collaboration network that enables humanitarian agencies …

To answer the pressing challenges encountered by agencies working in the Dadaab camp, NetHope, Inveneo and Cisco came together to create a new collaboration network that enables humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate better with other organizations and to better support operations.

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  • 1. New High-SpeedNetwork ConnectsDadaab Aid AgenciesFor Collaboration a project by NetHope and partners Inveneo, Cisco and USAID
  • 2. The worst drought and faminein more than 60 years havethreatened the livelihood of 9.5million people in the Horn ofAfrica since early 2011. Refugeesfrom Somalia continue to arrive inKenya by the tens of thousands,making the Dadaab complex nowthe world’s largest refugee campever with almost 500,000 countedand perhaps as many as 100,000 Chief of Party, NetHope, a consortium of 34more unregistered. member NGOs, sent their Connectivity and Emergency Response directors, Joe SimmonsThe United Nations High Commission for and Gisli Olafsson, to Dadaab to explore theRefugees (UNHCR) is the lead agency potential to improve and reduce the cost ofresponding to the crisis, along with World Food connectivity for the UN and NGOs operatingProgram, UNICEF and other Non-Governmental in the region. Inveneo and Cisco TacticalOrganizations including Care, Save the Children, Operations (TacOps) were subsequently invitedKenya Red Cross, Oxfam, International Rescue by NetHope to identify opportunities to bringCommittee and Norwegian Refugee Council. better, more reliable Internet and interagencyThese agencies provide critical life-sustaining communications to the NetHope members andservices such as food distribution, housing, other humanitarian agencies working in thesanitation and medical relief to those in Dadaab. region. NetHope and Inveneo mobilized a teamTeams are stretched to their limits. To make to travel to Dadaab and assess the situation inmatters even more difficult, al Shebaab, the detail.Somali-based terrorist organization, recentlyescalated activities in and around the camps. On the ground in Dadaab, it was clear fromSecurity practices and protocols have been the UN and NGO community that bringingramped up to ensure the safety of contractors, incremental, reliable and affordable Internetstaff and refugees. access would increase staff productivity, especially in delivering essential food, housingHow Better Connectivity Can Help and medical services. It would also lead to better overall coordination, security andIn September 2011, based on a request from communications. If Inveneo and TacOps couldthe USAID Global Broadband Innovations (GBI) install and configure a local high-speed network, 1
  • 3. the Dadaab organizations could immediately collaboration technologies like file sharing, video begin to collaborate and share information more conferencing designed by Cisco and voice over effectively. An existing UNHCR-led network IP telephony applications. This collaboration initiative for smaller NGOs and community network, DadaabNET, would also provide a centers needed to be substantively reviewed to Cisco router-based failover configuration to ensure that any new networking designs would switch agency traffic to a 4-Mbps, UNHCR- be compatible, complimentary and synergistic. provided satellite system in the event of primary connection failure. This effort involved NetHope, Inveneo and TacOps secured a IP addressing and configuration support from commitment from Cisco to donate equipment both Cisco and Inveneo as well as consultative and commitments from USAID, Microsoft and engineering support from UNHCR and the UNHCR for funding. It was determined that there Dadaab Aid Agency IT staff. were two major areas where we could help. Status and Results I. First, Inveneo would initiate and lead a strategic business and engineering partnership NetHope negotiated discount pricing and with Orange, a local Kenyan mobile and landline capacity commitments for Dadaab with two telecommunications service provider, to extend local Kenyan service providers in January 2012. new data services into the Dadaab compound Phase One of this project was successfully using Inveneo’s long-distance WiFi solution. implemented in March 2012. NetHope aggregated the demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community During the week of March 12, Orange hosted and Orange committed to a preferred pricing an Inveneo-led classroom training session in arrangement as well as to adequate initial Nairobi that provided hands-on instruction on and ongoing capacity. Orange is making their long distance WiFi. Inveneo offered a custom highly reliable Internet connectivity available by practical curriculum in both network design providing backhaul from their existing Dadaab and installation as well as tower safety to tower to international fiber networks. Inveneo prequalified Orange and Dadaab-based NGO designed a local distribution network and technical staff. training plan to enable Orange and prequalified During the week of March 19, Inveneo, NetHope, Dadaab IT staff to quickly grasp, support[photo right] Skinny guy Inveneo’s local partner SetRight and Cisco’s and connect to the Inveneo-designed accesswire masts are always local gold partner Dimension Data team traveledmore “interesting” to solution.climb than the big to Dadaab. Monday and Tuesday, Inveneotelecom towers. They II. Second, Inveneo and Cisco TacOps worked side-by-side with the newly trainedtend to sway a bit. would co-design a high-speed network to NGO, Orange and SetRight teams in Dadaab,Inveneo CTO AndrisBjornson climbs the connect the Dadaab agencies locally and to giving them the guidance and confidence toUNHCR mast in Dadaab. successfully complete Orange and UNHCR tower enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency 2
  • 4. Counsel, Care, Oxfam and Kenya Red Cross so it was truly an interagency support group. The expectation was that four or five sites could be installed, and then reviewed and verified when the Inveneo team returned. Thursday, in Dadaab, Inveneo found their expectations were far exceeded. The DadaabNET team installed 19 radios at ten agency locations. On Thursday and Friday, Inveneo verified the work and fine- tuned the implementations. Future installs and troubleshooting can now be properly completed [photo left] Joe Simmons of NetHope and Mark Summer of Inveneo work in the core equipment room of the Dadaab Collaboration Network.[photo above] Trainees installations. The Orange tower is the hub for thefrom Orange Kenya, access network and the UNHCR tower is the hubInveneo ICIP Setright, andDadaab-based IT staffs for DadaabNET. Dimension Data was also busyassemble an Ubiquiti meeting with IT staff at the installation sites:Rocket Dish. consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff and completing the initial router configurations. As part of the training and skills building plan, the Inveneo team left Dadaab late Tuesday afternoon to cover training the Orange Network Operations Center in Nairobi. Inveneo challenged the six newly trained agency staff with the installation of Customer Premise Equipment for both the access and DadaabNET by the local IT team with Inveneo positioned networks. The team includes staff from UNHCR, to provide remote support for existing and World Food Programe, Norwegian Refugee ongoing humanitarian agency installations. The 3
  • 5. DadaabNET team has taken full ownership of the This connectivity is already enabling the networks. All future troubleshooting, support humanitarian agencies to function better, to and installations will be managed frontline by communicate between agencies, and to support the local DadaabNET interagency team. By the overall operations. Some agencies are now same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco purchasing bandwidth from multiple Kenyan TacOps successfully implemented and tested service providers, who based on NetHope routing at all ten newly installed locations and negotiations now offer reliable highly discounted ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNET competitively priced services to Dadaab-based team. agencies. Since provider’s access routes are physically diverse, purchasing from both is[photo below] Edwin The initial bandwidth contracted was fully recommended to improve uptime and reliability.from Inveneo partnerSetright mounts installed. Orange intends to add triple the They also have plans to move more costly VSATRocketM5s and AirMax amount available over the next 60 days to keepsectors on a tower systems to failover mode. As the new networkstandoff. We save a lot pace with demand and to meet new service architecture is tried and proven to be moreof time by pre-installing order expectations. reliable and cost effective, it will be extended tostandoffs before haulingthem up the tower. the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment. “With the strong reliable connectivity offered by the DadaabNET project, humanitarian organizations will be able to better respond to crisis in the area. This is the model we want to bring to scale,” said Bill Brindley, NetHope Executive Director and CEO. “Dadaab is a challenging environment, but by bringing together the right technologists, local partners and innovative technical tools, its humanitarian agencies are now better connected than ever. We are increasingly using this unique, ecosystem approach to connect development organizations to high quality broadband in under-served regions around the world,” Kristin Peterson, CEO and Co-Founder of Inveneo. The Inveneo, Cisco and NetHope partnership, fortified and proven successful during earlier 4
  • 6. collaborations in Haiti and elsewhere, is now and collaboration so that there will be everexpanding to embrace a broader alliance with increasing opportunities to extend theUSAID, UNHCR, WFP, Microsoft and others. The broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.Haiti and Dadaab models have the necessaryingredients and momentum to rapidly bring The Dadaab Connect project is funded bysustainable rural broadband connectivity and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovationsvalue-added applications to scale in selected partnership with NetHope, Inveneo’s Broadbandunderserved communities. Our immediate focus for Good Program, Microsoft, Cisco, UNHCR, andnow is Phase 2, which brings IP telephony, Craig Newmark and the Orr Foundation.conferencing web services, cloud computingand sustainable community outreach educationcenters to the Dadaab community.Inveneo, Cisco, NetHope and Orange willalso continue to grow their partnership [photo left] Trainees are under Inveneo’s CTO Andris Bjornson’s guidance, to learn safe climbing techniques on 50 Meter towers. 5
  • 7. For more information, visit www.NetHope.org. Follow us on Twitter @NetHope_Org & find us on Facebook at /NetHopeOrg

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