Spreading Goodwill Through In-Kind Donations
In our five years of work, Inveneo has had one very specific guiding principle: employ quality, appropriate technology in the developing world. Whether it be ruggedized computers and other low-power solutions for challenging environments, we’ve always espoused the benefits of new, relevant equipment for use in the field. Haiti has proved no different.
Help during the immediate response
In their hasty last-minute preparations to send engineers to Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake, Inveneo staff gathered the Ubiquiti networking equipment that has served us so well in rural deployments in 23 other countries, thereby depleting our cache of reserves and backup stock.
Luckily, Ubiquiti Networks management generously donated, piece-for-piece, replacements for these antennae, radios and other gear as our long-distance WiFi network for NGO use extends to 18 nodes and looks to be operational through March 2010.
Yet we’ve also improvised new solutions just for Haiti. When we realized that building antenna stands from locally available supplies – our usual practice – wouldn’t work in post-earthquake Haiti, Guitar Center gave us a great discount on 30 speaker stands. The stands are now supporting multiple Ubiquiti antennas in Port-au-Prince.
Also of great use to the Inveneo engineering team was a network of transporters and other logistics experts. Looking at 3/4 ton of freight for this first round of Haitian connectivity installations was daunting, to say the least.
But United Airlines and Airline Ambassadors came through with generous space and transit donations for our engineers and gear, meaning that Inveneo was able to develop the Port-au-Prince-based wireless network at only minimal cost to us!
(As mentioned in earlier blog posts, additional expenses were generously covered by both NetHope, whose consortium of humanitarian organizations was the primary recipient of the WiFi network, and by the EKTA Foundation as well as individual donors.)
Supporting ongoing efforts
For our second shipment of networking equipment to Haiti, the logistics ecosystem had already broadened and we received gracious in-kind donations from Novo Express (carting our gear from Inveneo HQ to San Francisco International Airport) JetBlue (flying our pallets of equipment to South Florida) and Flightstar Trading LLC, which covered the last leg, transporting the goods from Miami to Port-au-Prince, where our engineers were ready and eager to make use of the new equipment.
We may know technology, and we may also be good at importing equipment into hard-to-reach places, but we also know when to accept a hand from folks who do it even better! Thanks to Ubiquiti, Guitar Center, United, Airline Ambassadors, Novo, JetBlue, Flightstar and everyone else, without whom we would not have been able to make nearly the impact that we did in Haiti.
Just as the standard Inveneo deployment model employs a collaborative structure of client, ICIP, funder and Inveneo, we’re finding that emergency projects such as in Haiti also require a heightened level of teamwork.