Thursday, August 24, 2006

Field Internet communications center

To replicate a field communications center, we set up in a "hexayurt" about 100 yards from the main Strong Angel activities. We then worked with some of the organizations providing situational awareness for the simulated disaster so that people could access their data and systems from our "remote" location.

The Hexayurt Internet cafe (courtesy of Vinay Gupta -

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

GATR makes the news

In an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune today, the GATR inflatable antenna was given prominence in a large article about Stong Angel III.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

It has been fascinating to observe today that despite having some really heavy weight connectivity from some very large companies, and a few hundred technicians on site, we have still seen major connectivity problems due to the inability of people to cooperate. Up to 40 wireless networks are being used in a very confied area, with the result that everything interferes with everything else.

The irony is that many developing world countries have less international bandwidth than we have at Strong Angel III within a 100 yard radius.

A group including Bell Canada, Cisco are trying to resolve the issues now.

Once again, the pragmatic solution that DRASTIC have been deploying is to use wires!

Monday continued - deploying the 2.4m inflatable VSAT

Deploying the 2.4m GATR VSAT dish was very easy although there were some adjustments that needed to be made to ensure we would stay in the satellite network. The ball has two presurized chambers. The pressure diference between these precisely controls the shape of the reflector inside the ball, making it capable of supporting a connection as fast as any other VSAT of similar size.

Monday continued

Our friends at SDN Global were among the first to deploy, providing internet connectivity, VoIP phones and video conferencing from ealy in the day.

Monday - DAY 1: Resurrection

The demonstration scenario can be seen on the Strong Angel III website . Basically, the participants have to provide power and communications to a building in order to start to provide disaster response coordination for the hypothetical disaster.

Interestingly, within less than an hour, it was reported that there were 18 or more wireless networks established on the site. Due to interference between these networks, none of them worked well. Even though there was loads of connectivity to the site via satellite, we could not get easily to where the people were working, less than 100 yards away. After a few hours of trying various tricks to try and get our wireless network link to work, DRASTIC fell back to a reliable lower technology solution: we ran a network cable!

In hindsight, the clash of wireless networks was entirely predictable. If we has run the cable to begin with, users would have had their connectivity much earlier.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Perhaps the ultimate in mobile medical units

This is the Loma Linda University Medical Center Telemedicine vehicle, used within San Bernardino county in California.

Having a ball

This is the inflatable antenna from GATR. Conceptually, this is ideal for international disaster response, since it is so small and light in its uninflated form. When logistical support is at a premium, this device would be easy to get to the front line. It has yet to be approved with C band service but this should be done in the next few months.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Until now, this is what was meant by a mobile VSAT ....

We came across one of the other Strong Angel participants doing a practice set up today. Mounting a small autopoint Ku band antenna on a Hummer 4x4 is a very valid approach for domestic US disasters, but not a very cost effective solution for an overseas disaster in the tropics, where typically a 2.4 meter C band antenna would be needed, and deployments are typically more static and for longer periods.

By contrast, we had two of the GATR 2.4m inflatable dishes in roller cases in the trunk of our hire car today, along with other equipment that we were positioning for the start of the demonstration. Pictures to follow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Final Preparations ......

The visualization Labs at San Diego University will be one of the nerve centers for SA3. This is a large room with big screens all around the walls and some fast connectivity. Already some of the participants are gathering and we are starting to hear rumours of some of the mind-boggling technology demonstrations which are envisaged. It will be fascinating to see how much works and also how much will be realistically applicable to disaster response in the developing world as opposed to the USA.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Countdown to Day Zero

Preparations are well advanced for our involvement in Strong Angel III.

Thanks to our partners SDN Global, we will be able to demonstrate a mobile capability to provide broadband internet, professional polycom video conferencing and multi-line VoIP telephone service within 4-5 minutes of arriving at the demonstration site, without needing external power.

Additionally, our friends from GATR will be developing an innovative inflatable VSAT antenna, which can be carried in a single back pack to the operating site.
Drastic logo