The role of wifi in disaster response

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  • 1. THE ROLE OF WIFI IN DISASTER RESPONSE Haiti Connect; a case study
  • 2. Communication
  • 3. But what if this happens?
  • 4. Communication is reduced to this:
  • 5. Traditionally emergency response brought *all* their own communications equipment.
  • 6. Disadvantages:• No comms until everything was shipped in and distributed.• Number of “client” devices are limited.• Expensive.• Complicated• Communication limited to rescue workers & government personnel
  • 7. What would be better?• Provide the network not the clients.• Ease of build, configuration and use.• Affordable.• Resilient.
  • 8. WiFi ticks all these boxes.
  • 9. Hurricane Katrina• New Orleans muni-wifi network only comms network which survived.• It became the de-facto communications network for the rescue effort.• 110,000 home inspections in just 6 weeks, and to issue 500 building permits per day (a 500% increase)• WiFi also used for public internet centres allowing displaced people to locate & communicate with family.• Large grassroots effort by WISP’s from all across the USA.• Use of pre-WiMax, self-healing mesh, VoIP, and satellite uplinks mostly combined with Wi-Fi on the local link
  • 10. Benefits• Equipment is widely available.• Interoperability• Easy of install• Self-healing (mesh)• 1000’s (if not 100,000’s) of clients. Laptops, voip-phones, smartphones, desktop computers etc.• Unlicensed• Suitable for p-2-links right down to LAN level.• Secure (different levels of encryption)
  • 12. Haiti Earthquake
  • 13. Haiti in short• Population: 9,801,664• 80% of the population living under the poverty line• Bad or no infrastructure• Average wage < $2 per day• 50,000 landline phones & 4 million cellular phones• Telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Latin America and the Caribbean• 1 million internet users
  • 14. Direct effects of earthquake• Nearly 316,000 people dead & 300,000 injured.• Major destruction of already limited infrastructure.• Outbreaks of infectious diseases.• Shortages of water, food & medication• Lack of basic sanitation• Civil unrest
  • 15. So what does someone living in Ireland with no experience in disaster response do? He decides to go to Haiti to build wifi networks........
  • 16. Volunteers
  • 17. Equipment
  • 18. Lots of different equipment sponsors but Aruba Networks was by far the biggest one!
  • 19. Planning
  • 20. Network overview
  • 21. Network architecture• Point-2-Point links built using a mix of dish & directional panel antennas• Local “campus type” wireless networks built using Aruba AP85’s both in mesh and wired configurations.• Meshing via 5Ghz with clients on 2.4 (if lots of legacy devices) or vice versa (preferred).• All power via POE.• Indoor WLAN’s using Aruba AP65’s both meshed and wired.• Aruba 2400 domain controllers with 800 controllers acting as local controllers.• Mix of encrypted/secure network and un-encrypted.• Different levels of bandwidth
  • 22. Performance• Local “conditions” negated the need for Aruba’s top level “bells and whistles”.• Lots of legacy devices but flexible configuration handled this without real issues.• “Aruba only” networks were rock-solid, scalable and infinitly manageable.• Outdoor AP’s survived numerous hurricanes with <5% failure rate.• Steep learning curve but excellent support from Aruba (thank you Jerrod Howard) enabled us to provide a service level far exceeding our expectations.
  • 23. Obstacles• BYOD: lots of different, unmanaged devices with different performance levels & expectations.• Backhaul; satellite very common but unusable. Most backhaul had to be purposely built• Power: even mains supplies, which wasn’t common, was unstable. Majority of equipment is powered by generators or batteries.• Security: can’t level expensive equipment accessible or it will be stolen• Weather; extreme heat, humidity and hurricanes.
  • 24. Applications• Basic http, pop, ftp etc access.• VoiP; ranging from Skype to voip phones.• Video-conferencing• Tele-medicine• GIS/Mapping
  • 25. MediShare hospital -> UN base
  • 26. Camejo Hospital Leogane
  • 27. Summary:• Provided Internet connectivity and WLAN networks +/- 20 different locations (hospitals, clinics, schools, missions and others).• Assisted in & supported the establishment of 2 internet cafes.• Provided connectivity for tele-medicine program in Leogane.• Also provided generator to power surgical theatres & patient wards in Leogane.• Some wifi equipment installed in temporary facilities and now being allocated for alternative use.• Developing plans for dedicated global rapid response team.
  • 28. Website: www.haiti-connect.orgFacebook: Twitter: @Haiti_connect