OTI's Red Hook Digital Stewards Bring Internet Access to New York City Housing Authority Facility

2013-07-30 / Georgia Bullen

Tiwan Burrus (RHI) and Katherine Ortiz (RHI) attaching a Pico Station to a roof mount. A 20-computer public computer center hosted at the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Miccio Recreation Center now has Internet access following a day of installations by young adults trained by the Open Technology Institute (OTI), the Red Hook Initiative (RHI) and Brooklyn Fiber. Five Red Hook Digital Stewards, young adults engaged in a New York City workforce development effort, installed 6 new wireless routers into the Red Hook WiFi network in the beginning of July 2013. The Stewards connected two new partner institutions to RHI’s existing Red Hook Network with these installations - adding a local school and the NYCHA Miccio Recreation Center to a set of partners including churches, local residents and the Red Hook Initiative’s building. The public areas surrounding these buildings now have access to the Internet as well as local applications running on the neighborhood website. Area of expansion marked in Green. Full Map of Current Coverage: http://goo.gl/maps/2r6np This expansion involved moving the backbone Internet gateway to a new location and setting up a static route configuration to connect the computer center into the mesh network. By moving the Internet gateway to a higher roof, the router now has a better line of sight to the church four blocks away where there are additional Commotion nodes and BK Fiber Internet points of presence. The Stewards set up a static route to enable meshing over ethernet between two directional routers facing away from each other, which allows the Internet gateway to be shared with the computer center at the NYCHA Miccio Recreation Center. There are multiple ways to configure a setup along these lines, but after planning and sketching options, the team decided that this was the best solution. Sketch of configuration plan (left). The team – Eric Vesler (BKFiber), Anthony Evans (RHI), Will Hawkins (OTI, and Nijel Johnson (RHI) – huddling to set the static routes (right). The Digital Stewards have been focusing on learning these skills – installation, configuration, networking, maintenance – during their work the past few months. With this installation, the stewards tested those skills and led the installation process, while OTI team members, Will Hawkins and Georgia Bullen, were available to assist. Following the installations at AMC, the stewards felt prepared and excited to build out the network more in their neighborhood of Red Hook. Looking ahead, the Stewards are thinking about outreach events and training to provide assistance to local residents who want to learn more about how to use the Internet and access valuable resources online, as well as additional installations in the neighborhood in August. Tiwan Burrus (RHI) stringing out cable for a router.