Inveneo Projects Archives

Thank You Solar Library Champions!

  1. Posted by Inveneo on February 16, 2016 in the categories: Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

We’re extremely grateful for all of our Generosity campaign supporters!  As of February 16, 2016, nearly 60 people had donated approximately $14,200 to our campaign.  We’re excited to begin assembling the Solar Libraries this month to send to Haiti.

In particular, we’d like to give a big shout out to our three Solar Library Champion supporters!

  • Ann Cude
  • Alexandra Grill-Childers
  • Sharon Penley

Thank you to our Solar Library Champions and to all of our donors for your help and support!

Picture for Siemens Project Campaign

Improved Internet Connectivity in Haiti Thanks to Inveneo and Partners

  1. Posted by Inveneo on May 15, 2015 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

From 2011 to 2013, Inveneo has been widely involved in the Haiti Rural Broadband Network (HRBN), a program created to bring broadband to Haiti in many rural areas. Inveneo worked extensively throughout the project, but when funding ran out, the system Inveneo put in place has experienced setbacks, and achieving sustainability has been a challenge.

These school kids could benefit from Inveneo's Haiti Connected Schools program.

These school kids could benefit from Inveneo’s Haiti Connected Schools program.

Inveneo’s San Francisco-based Project Manager Kelly Doley recently traveled to Haiti to join Inveneo’s Haiti-based Project Manager, Michelet Guerrier, to assess the HRBN project.

Haiti Benefited from the HRBN Project

Although the HRBN project has experienced challenges, about 50 schools that participated in Inveneo’s Haiti Connected Schools program initially received improved Internet connectivity through the HRBN. Inveneo is happy that it fulfilled its mission of expanding broadband in areas, and the HRBN infrastructure remains in place. However, the HRBN needs a sustainable business model and strong management from one of Haiti’s many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for networks to grow or continue, especially in the absence of continued donor funding. However, Inveneo has noticed that multiple ISPs have learned from the HRBN and used the same technologies as Inveneo in building out their own networks to reach remote areas.

8281245795_fd245290c8_o-2Struggles of BATI

Some of Inveneo’s approximately 50 BATI still work for ISPs to conduct outreach and repairs for the HRBN project. BATI are young Haitians with information technology (IT) skills who have been trained by Inveneo to deploy high speed, broadband wireless networks and new, relevant technology. All BATI benefitted from Inveneo’s training and working as part of the HRBN network. BATIs have a lot of respect for Inveneo and would like Inveneo to expand its presence in Haiti. Inveneo greatly respects the BATI, and recognizes they are a great local and skilled resource that could be tapped into Haiti.

Inveneo Moves Forward

Internet connectivity remains a challenge in Haiti, and the HRBN was a successful initiative to expand broadband in remote areas.  As with all development projects, achieving sustainability – in this case maintaining the HRBN after the project officially ended – has been a challenge. However, the HRBN infrastructure remains and could be leveraged to help connect the unconnected in Haiti.

Ongoing Inveneo Projects in Haiti

The Inveneo team is currently working on the successful Transforming Teaching Through Tablets project to improve the skills of and resources available to teachers in Haiti. To read more about that project click here.

Inveneo Launches Its Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative

  1. Posted by Inveneo on December 12, 2014 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Projects, Relief
Be Sociable, Share!
IMG_20141210_191707_112

The ERCI team who met in San Francisco for pre-deployment training.

As the Ebola crisis continues to hit hard in West Africa, Inveneo recently launched its Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) this past week to bring Internet connectivity to doctors, nurses, and others working at medical centers located in Sierra Leone. On Wednesday December 10th, several of our team’s engineers, contractors, and few Volo employees gathered together in San Francisco for pre-deployment training.

The ERCI project is already underway and the Inveneo team has been busy ordering and moving ICT equipment to a warehouse in Accra, Ghana. Several pieces of equipment that we are using for this project include Ubiquiti’s Rocket M5 Radio, AirMax Sectors, RocketDish 30 cBi Dishes, AirFiber5, NanaoBridge M5 25, and the Mikrotik RouterBoard CCR 1009.

Several members of the Inveneo team join Volo in the Ebola Responder Communications Initiative class.

Several members of the Inveneo team join Volo in the Ebola Responder Communications Initiative class.

In addition, our Senior Field Engineer Samuel Perales and contractor Eric Kuhnke will be traveling to Accra, Ghana on Saturday, December 13th. In Ghana, Samuel and Eric will start sorting all the equipment that arrived, and soon they will be joined by several other team members throughout December. Our Sierra Leone partners, called ICIPs (Inveneo Certified ICT Partners), will also travel to Ghana in mid-January to be trained on creating broadband connections. We certainly have a great amount of work ahead of us, and we are certainly glad to be partnering with such a talented team!

After their training is complete our ICIPs and contractors will travel back to Sierra Leone to create Internet connectivity for medical centers that will be used by Ebola victims in the near future. Inveneo will provide long-term support after the technicians have set up Internet connectivity in medical centers so that strong and permanent WiFi connectivity is available to the doctors and medical staff working at those centers.ERCI Logo

Inveneo is no stranger to providing aid after an international disaster hit an area hard, leaving no to little WiFi connectivity. In fact, throughout the past several years Inveneo has responded to devastating crises around the world. In the Philippines we creating emergency Internet connectivity for humanitarian organizations after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck, and starting in 2010, our team assisted Haiti in rebuilding its Internet infrastructure after the devastating earthquake. If you would like to donate to this our impactful ERCI project, please visit our donate page.

Why Education Improves with Tablets in Rural Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 16, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!
One of the sessions from Inveneo's TTT Project. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

One of the sessions from Inveneo’s TTT Project. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Inveneo has worked very hard to help teachers in rural Haiti gain adequate access to new educational tools and resources. Led by the our team’s project manager in Haiti, Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo recently held a third Tablet training event, part of the Transforming Teaching through Tablets (TTT) project. The training, which was held in a remote part of southeast Haiti called Cascade Pichon, lasted three days. It hosted a total of 15 teachers who came from three separate schools.

How are these Tablets and training session helping teachers achieve greater educational success with their students? What are teachers using them for, and what are the challenges that come with the Tablets?

Greater Access to Digital Content

A session on different learning styles. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

A session on different learning styles. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Michelet reports that Haitian teachers have been using their Tablets as a resource library. They were most interested in the offline dictionaries and the digital library that offers hundreds of books right at their fingertips. In addition, the Tablets also offer French grammar content which the teachers found useful to create better lessons for their students.

Professional Development

During Inveneo’s training sessions, not only were teachers provided the apps and tools to work on their Tablets, but they were also given a session on professional development. Michelet held a few sessions where he presented apps on the Tablet to model how some of the apps can be adapted for teaching, learning, and evaluation. To gain practice the teachers did a simulation class for each other, and feedback was then offered from their peers.

The school under construction. This is what the school looked like on May 30, 2014. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

The school under construction. This is what the school looked like on May 30, 2014. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Awareness of ICT Issues

The teachers in Haiti were very happy with the Tablets and tablet training process. It’s been reported that they are using Tablets at least five days per week! With all these positive points there are also a few problems that go along with using Tablets.

Internet connectivity is not very strong but very much a challenge in Cascade Pichon. During the training Michelet and a few others traveled to nearby hills to see if there was a better connection. A weak signal was available (at times) but it wasn’t good enough to send emails or to use Google’s search engine.

The second issue at hand is the lack of electricity. The school nearby is currently under construction and does not yet offer the community electricity. This gives the teachers limited time that they can use the Tablets. To charge up, teachers end up going outside of Cascade Pichon to charging stations (where they also charge their phones). To charge a Tablet it costs 25 Haitian gourdes which equals about $0.55 USD.

Michelet left the latest TTT training session in Haiti on a positive note. He describes “after these sessions, we are convinced that the decision to bring the Teacher Tablet project to this remote community was a complete gain considering the long-term impact that [it] should have on the teachers, students, and the community as [a] whole.”

Inveneo is proud to partner with other organizations to make this project possible. We would like to thank UMCom, Library for All, Gumdrop Cases, Heart to Heart, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Google, and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection for being a part of this continued project in rural Haiti.

Tablet Training for Teachers in Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on May 14, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

Inveneo is committed to improving education throughout Haiti through the use of ICTs, particularly Tablets.

Teachers gather together to send and receive files via Bluetooth. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Teachers gather together to send and receive files via Bluetooth. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

On Friday, April 10, 2014, United Methodist (UM), Heart to Heart, and our Inveneo Haiti team met together to select the 3rd pilot school for the TTT (Transforming Teaching through Tablets) project. The Inveneo team agreed to select a school in Cascade Pichon, near Bellanse (in the southeast part of the country). Pastor Cayce, on behalf of UM, proposed the school. This was in collaboration with Heart to Heart International, who has been doing incredible projects in Pichon for education, healthcare, and community organizing.

A few days later, we headed early to Cascade Pichon, which can be quite difficult to get to by car. We took the challenge head-on and drove the rocky and dangerous road to meet the community of Pichon. Soon it was time to launch the training and put Tablets in the hands of these incredibly motivated teachers!

The Teacher Tablet Training had 15 teachers from three schools (FORPPE du Nazaréen de la Cascade, Ecole Nationale Bois-de-Lance, and Ecole Nationale Nan Hauteur). Most of the teachers walked 2-3 hours to attend the all-day training. In three days we had an intensive 20-hour training for the primary school teachers. We held the training at the only health clinic in the community (since there is no local school building), and our electricity came from a generator from the only place visitors stay when they come to the community.

Enseau Blaise shows what he discovered on the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Enseau Blaise shows what he discovered on the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

During those three days, we introduced the teachers to the concept of professional development as a lifetime process. They concluded that professional development was a “must” for teachers to improve their capacity and facilitate learning. Although they were very interested in using the Tablets, I felt that the professional development module was equally important.

What did the Haitians teachers think of the training? Vitane Jean, one of the two female participants, thought that the training allowed them to understand that there is always room for improvement to become a better teacher. Chango Noncent, the School Director of Ecole Nationale Bois-de-Lance, said the training offered the rare opportunity for teachers to get together and learn from each other. The Inveneo team was happy to see how fast they understood that they were each other’s best resources.

Each teacher received a Nexus 7 Tablet, which were all donated by Google. They came loaded with about 50 educational apps including a library they can use for reference and classroom activities. This was all made possible with the generous donations of Library for All and Gumdrop Cases. These apps feature subjects that are taught in primary schools across Haiti: Language, Math, Science, Social Science, and the Arts. We gave several demonstrations on how they can use the apps with their students. This was an important part of the training because as new ICT users, the teachers needed to see the many opportunities that the Tablet offers. Tablets give an wide variety of teaching and learning activities to make lessons more interesting, and our teachers were excited to start using them right away.

To ensure ongoing technical support for the teachers, we identified two participants from the group to coach and facilitate online interaction with the group since The Inveneo team will not be able to go there every week.

Personally, I was very satisfied with this training because of three main reasons:

Ronald Benjamin shows how to use extra parts that come with the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Ronald Benjamin shows how to use extra parts that come with the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

1. Engagement: The teachers valued the training and actively participated. We did not go there for nothing. We went there for those who need it most. The teachers were very passionate about ICT and interested in the training activities.

2. Teamwork: The teachers were wonderful to work with. They expressed their thanks and gratitude to the UM, Heart to Heart, and Inveneo teams for bringing these tools, training, and resources to the community. This was all possible because of the generous support of Google for providing Nexus 7 tablets for the teachers, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, and the United Methodist Church of Resurrection.

3. Impact: We seem to have brought them something useful to help make a change. The teachers want to use what they have gained from the TTT project to improve their knowledge that will better help their students. In the future we hope to hear stories about what they have accomplished with their Tablets.

Written by Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo’s Project Manager for Haiti

Inveneo Presents at Ethiopian ICT Showcase in Collaboration with RTI

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 25, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

For many years students in Ethiopia were not educated in their own native language, and instead, they were only taught to read or write in one Ethiopian language called Amharic.

13879382155_9d72452241_z.jpgInveneo is collaborating with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and RTI as a partner in USAID’s Ethiopia READ project, a program that was created to enhance reading comprehension in one’s own native language for 15 million children in Ethiopia. To further the project, our Director of Project Management, Kassia Echavarri-Queen, and Project Engineer, Matt Crum, collaborated to create an ICT Showcase in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that focused on discussing which educational ICT technologies would be the most efficient and suitable solutions for the Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Technical Assistance (READ TA) program.

The READ TA Project is a five-year program created to improve the early grade reading skills of young students Grades 1 through 8 across the country. The project now promotes teaching reading comprehension in seven languages that allow students to learn to read and write in their own mother tongue language.

Inveneo gave several presentations at the ICT showcase. More specifically, Matt Crum spoke about local Content Server, LED/Hybrid Projectors, Virus Protection, and gave additional information about a baseline survey which was conducted last year. He explains further, “We want to be able to get some of the best teaching content available into these schools to help the curriculum through interactive multimedia, videos, and access to information. That’s the main purpose that we’re coming in with. With Internet connectivity you can show a video of a great teacher and people can interact with experts in a field.”13726744874_beb44bdfde_z.jpg

Representatives from certain organizations were also given the chance to present ongoing or completed ICT initiatives that would strengthen READ TA’s mission.

Other participants of the showcase included representatives from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, local ICT initiatives, and READ TA Partners such as RTI, CoreNet, and Whiz Kids Workshop. The showcase was not open to the public but overall still had about 80 attendees.

As a first component in the READ TA project, Inveneo in conjunction with its local ICT partner Corenet did a baseline survey back in 2013. The survey measured ICT capacity in the College of Teacher Education (CTE), School Cluster Centers (SCCs), and satellite schools (which are all primary schools). Throughout the survey Inveneo measured power, current ICT equipment, Internet access, software in use, technical capacity, and current support plans (if available). From the survey Inveneo discovered that there’s diversity in all the CTEs and their individual capacity.

Our exciting work in Ethiopia will continue to grow throughout the next several months. Inveneo plans to build tools to enable monitoring and evaluation for this project in case there are any technical issues.

Looking for more information? Stay up-to-date with all of our projects by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

 

*This article “Inveneo Presents at Ethiopian ICT Showcase in Collaboration with RTI” is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Inveneo and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

USAIDEthiopia.png

Inveneo Transforms Teaching Through Tablets in Rural Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 1, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!
Teachers in training

Teachers in training

In March 2014 Inveneo launched a new project for primary school teachers in Haiti. The TTT (Transforming Teaching through Tablets) project is designed to improve teaching and learning in primary schools by providing teachers in rural Haiti with training and access to digital educational resources. Educators from two primary schools in the area of Petit-Goâve already received Nexus 7 tablets loaded with educational content and tools for professional development. In addition, they are participating in training on how to use the new technology tools to access information, acquire knowledge and collaborate with peers. The training and mentoring provided to teachers are intended to improve their confidence and capacity to deliver quality education in the classroom. Besides the initial on-site training, teachers will be participating in weekly online sessions via their tablets for several months where they will be learning about teaching, about classroom activities to foster 21st century learning and about ICT in the classroom.

An information session on professionnal development

An information session on professionnal development

The program was designed with the needs of Haitian primary school teachers in mind. Many teachers in rural Haiti have not received any or very little teacher training and have no access to resources like libraries or the Internet. We made sure the program would be relevant to the teachers’ needs and interests. They need technology, access to resources that support their work, training and ongoing coaching to become independent learners. The Haiti team (composed of PM Michelet Guerrier, Rico Mondesir, and Ronald Benjamin) is supported by Inveneo Education Solutions Director Sybille Fleischmann and San Francisco-based engineers. The team has been responsible for selecting schools, preparing administrators, identifying content, training development, setup of tablets and finally training delivery.

We are currently working with 21 teachers, 13 from College Harry Brakeman and eight from Ecole Methodiste de Hyacinthe, a small community located about one hour drive from the city of Petit-Goâve along a bumpy dirt road. There is no Internet connectivity in Hyacinthe available today. The teachers are willing to travel all the way to Petit-Goâve to find Internet access. Connectivity might finally reach their community later this year. The enthusiasm, motivation and interest for learning about technology and improving their teaching skills shows that these teachers are gaining an awareness of new challenges in the teaching profession and want to be ready to prepare their students with competencies for the 21st century. We see this as an important step to improving the quality of education.

Guirlène René showing how to enlarge content on the screen

Guirlène René showing how to enlarge content on the screen

The teachers were not sure how tablets could help them expand their knowledge and skills until they had the tablets in their hands and started exploring them. They were excited to learn about the tools and what they could do with them. Access to hundreds of books in French and Haitian Kreyol through Library for All, curricula of the Ministry of Education, offline apps and Internet access for research, communication, and collaboration have been described by the school director from Hyacinthe, Thony Domique, as closing the gap between city teachers and rural teachers.

In this program, we are working with preschool and fundamental education teachers. This includes Kindergarden and 1st to 6th grade. In the Haitian system, a teacher at the fundamental level teaches all subjects to a class. So what we have is a mix of teachers teaching different levels and age groups with classes of 35 to 50 students. The teachers will use their tablets to access information both offline and online, prepare lessons, create activities for the classroom, and share content with their students using a projector.

Rico demonstrating how to lauch apps

Rico demonstrating how to lauch apps

Wilson Monice, Director at College Brakeman said, “The first impact these tablets will have is on teacher and school image”. All parents want their children to have a quality education, and access to quality education passes through the training of teachers to develop new teaching and ICT competencies to enhance students’ learning. Consequently, schools with these teachers will be described as good schools and will be respected in the community.

A teacher with a tablet has access to lots of resources for professional development, references to sample lesson plans, learning activities for students, and content that will help teachers prepare the lessons. An expected outcome will be on the improvement of students’ performance.

A better education to the children in the community will contribute to making a change in the life of the community at different levels. The community should start to feel less marginalized as the people get more informed, educated and can participate in making decisions for themselves. We believe education supported by technology can help make this happen and bring hope to the community as a whole.

Progress continues in the Teacher Training classes

Progress continues in the Teacher Training classes

Working as the Project Manager has been such an honor. Being an educator myself, I have been lucky to be able to share and learn from all of these wonderful teachers’ experiences. And the surprise, so far, has been the level of commitment we have seen in these teachers who have so many years of  experience. Many of them have been in the teaching profession for more than 30 years, and they agree they need new skills to do what they like doing the most. We hope to inspire them to continue improving their teaching capacity to serve the children in these communities who need quality education most.

Thanks to our partners who made it possible to launch this ambitious program. Thanks to Google for providing Nexus 7 tablets for the teachers, and thanks to the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund and United Methodist Church of Resurrection for their financial support and assistance with in-country coordination.

Written by Michelet Guerrier, Project Manager for Inveneo Haiti Education

Update from The Philippines: Continued Connectivity and Progress

  1. Posted by Inveneo on March 27, 2014 in the categories: News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!
Extensive damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan

Extensive damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan

When Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, people lost their lives, their homes, and were without access to clean water or food. Inveneo responded within days, sending a team to jump-start assessment and launch communications relief efforts. Since the typhoon, Inveneo has been on the ground in Leyte and Samar (islands in the Visayas region of the Southern Philippines) supporting emergency communications for major NGOs providing lifesaving aid.

Aid workers gather together to coordinate relief efforts. Inveneo worked with over 20 major NGOs in the past few months.

Aid workers gather together to coordinate relief efforts. Inveneo worked with over 20 major NGOs in the past few months.

In November, a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas, our assessment team provided disaster communications assistance to our partners United Methodist Communications (UMCOM) and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOM/UMCOR teams were previously operating without any form of emergency communications in areas where cellular networks were non-functional.

In December, and with support from our partner UMCOM, we loaded up rugged tablets with a suite of disaster response applications to give field staff at 20+ major NGOs including Oxfam, Plan International, and Save the Children access to up-to-date crisis maps and to help coordinate their relief efforts. Inveneo also provided training on use of the tablets.

Inveneo engineer provides satphone training to senior UMCOR staffInnovate ICT’s tower team in the Inveneo / Petzl tower safety workshop in January 2014
Innovate ICT owner Jayson Orebia installs wireless equipment at World Vision International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L to R) Inveneo engineer provides satphone training to senior UMCOR staff; Innovate ICT’s tower team in the Inveneo / Petzl tower safety workshop in January 2014; Innovate ICT owner Jayson Orebia installs wireless equipment at World Vision International.

In January and February, progress continued as two of our engineers spent a month on the ground. We focused our work in three areas:

Supporting the UN Emergency Telecom Cluster (ETC), providing direct engineering support to the active ETC network in Tacloban City.  The ETC network provides emergency connectivity to the NGO community in Tacloban until local providers can restore services.  Inveneo engineers deployed a new relay site to fill in a dead zone in the ETC network, connecting the offices of  5+ additional NGOs.  This relay site provides them with critical connectivity when they had no other options.  These NGOs, including Save the Children, ACF, and Solidarite and working across diverse issues including food security, water and sanitation, shelter, and children’s issues are now better able to coordinate their operations through the use of email, skype, and other Internet services.

Inveneo trained "Innovate ICT" Systems Tech worker is gearing up to climb a tower

Inveneo trained “Innovate ICT” Systems Tech worker is gearing up to climb a tower

Providing local area network (LAN) networking assistance NGOs: ETC network support ends at delivery of hotspot connectivity to NGO offices.  Inveneo engineers provided LAN networking assistance to several NGOs.  World Vision International (WVI) operates a large office with 100+ staff far outside Tacloban City and beyond the range of the ETC network.  Inveneo engineers worked with WVI IT staff to upgrade their local wireless network, implementing a system to make it much easier for WVI to manage their limited VSAT bandwidth effectively.  Inveneo engineers provided similar services to Plan International in Borongan.
Ubiquiti NanoBridge M5-22 provides connectivity to Save the Children's headquarters in Tacloban

Ubiquiti NanoBridge M5-22 provides connectivity to Save the Children’s headquarters in Tacloban, Philippines

Supporting local IT entrepreneurs with rebuilding efforts:  A core component of Inveneo’s work has always been tight collaboration with local IT entrepreneurs.  Through our efforts to procure wireless equipment locally, Inveneo made contact with a man named Jayson Orebia who operates Innovate ICT in Tacloban City.  Prior to Typhoon Haiyan, Innovate provided wireless network services to schools and NGOs spread across an impressive area throughout Leyte and Samar.  Jayson’s network was devastated by the typhoon.  Inveneo ran Jayson’s team through an intensive  “wireless ISP bootcamp” during our time on the ground offering hands-on training in tower safety, network deployment, and network design.  It is our hope that this training will help Innovate ICT build back connectivity in the region more robustly, efficiently, and safely.  Inveneo also connected Innovate ICT to many prospective clients in the International NGO community.  Jayson has already successfully connected at least three of these clients to his own network, providing them the connectivity they so urgently need to support their programs, and giving him some recurring revenue on which to base his rebuilding.  Jayson has been very happy with the results, saying, “This training will greatly help our efforts to rebuild our network.”

 

 

(L to R)  Inveneo engineer configures equipment providing a critical redundant backhaul link to the Tacloban City ETC network; The Inveneo-installed relay site in western Tacloban City serving 5+ NGOs who have no other connectivity options; Inveneo engineer climbs a tower to install wireless equipment to bring SOS Children’s Villages online.

Inveneo is committed to local sustainability in all of its projects and trains local technicians to ensure that projects will continue long after the Inveneo team leaves. If you would like to help Inveneo continue its work, please visit http://inveneo.org/donate

 

A WiFi Connection for a Leading Bishop in the Philippines

  1. Posted by Inveneo on March 13, 2014 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

Sam Perales with UMCom’s April, United Methodist Bishop Pete Torio, his wife Joyce, and the rest of Bishop’s team.

Inveneo’s Senior Field Engineer Sam Perales has travelled to more than 10 countries to work on ICT projects, but his latest project was particularly special because of the collaboration between United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and local community members.

Last month Sam was in the Philippines in support of Inveneo’s typhoon relief efforts. He was asked by UMCom to add on a trip to the Baguio city region to design and implement an Internet link for the United Methodist Bishop leading the northern region. The typhoon did not impact the north, but it was still not an easy trek. Mountains and difficult terrain made the journey slow. After six hours of travel, Sam was able to meet up with Bishop Pete Torio and his wife, Joyce.

Sam joined the UMCom team which consisted of Nhots Celzo, a Filipino who is currently working for the UMC in IT, marketing, and website management, and April Gonzaga-Mercado, UMCom field staff who is very involved with the relief efforts from Typhoon Haiyan.

Sam and the team members joined Bishop and Mrs. Torio for dinner to understand the technical requirements and learn a little about how Torio uses the Internet. He described very long hours spent working in his office because it was the only place to get an Internet connection. He would even spend the night there because he had no connection at home (5km away).

Installation at the Bishop’s house was part of the process to build a WiFi connection.

It was clear that Torio was a man dedicated to his work and to serving his community, and that extending an Internet connection to his home would allow him to better reach his people and conduct church business without having to sleep overnight at the office. Needless to say, the Bishop and his wife were very excited at the possibility of getting a broadband connection that would allow him to be more efficient and to work from home when needed. Sam and the rest of the team were set to start the next day.

Morning came and the team began by getting a radio installed on the roof of the UMC 6-story office building. The only way to access this roof was through a small window on the top floor which quickly proved to be a feat in acrobatic moves. Once the team was through the little window and on to the roof, the installation went rather smoothly and quickly. Soon they were off to the other side of the link – the Bishop’s residence.

The project’s main challenge was hard to miss – a 4-story building directly in the way between the Bishop’s office and home. Determined as ever, Sam knew there had to be a way the team could literally “get around” this issue.

The team traveled to several nearby buildings to see if they could get a signal from the neighbors’ balconies. What was previously an Inveneo/UMCom project now quickly turned into a community activity. Residents in several buildings were more than happy to open their doors and let these strangers (and all their equipment including the Inveneo Cable-Free Survey Pole) in. Sam remarked that walking around the community was the one of the most enjoyable parts of the project.

At last the UMCom and Inveneo teams were able to relay a signal by attaching the receiver to a long pole and placing it on the Bishop’s roof on his house. Within the same day they were able to do a full installation that included configuring a radio, cabling, setting up the modem, and installing the software.

Sam and the rest of the team successfully installed the 5km Internet connection. Currently the Bishop is the only one in his neighborhood that has Internet at his house, and this opens the door for network sharing that he and his wife are very happy to offer their neighbors. In the future though, and as other neighbors get their own WiFi connections, this won’t restrict the bandwidth of the Bishop’s Internet.

Getting online to serve the community.

Just the very next day, the Bishop had Internet access at his house because of the combined talents of the UMCom and Inveneo teammates. This will help him spend more time at home with his family, allow him to connect and serve local congregations better and communicate globally as his position requires. In addition, the Bishop and his family can offer their neighbors access to broadband Internet that’s fast and reliable.

By the end of the project, Sam was very pleased to see the increased capacity of the local UMCom workers. He knew of their previous skill sets, but this challenge of finding a signal and setting up a WiFi connection in mountainous terrain will help both Nhots and April in future projects. Sam considers UMCom to be a valued partner to the Inveneo team saying “It was a feel good project.” He felt the team worked very well together on this challenging installation.

The partnership between UMCom and the ICT engineering non-profit Inveneo has been one of continued growth. Collaboration is key in an ICT project like this, and with the combined efforts of UMCom and Inveneo, the enduring partnership is easy to see.

Written by Jana Melpolder, Inveneo Staff

Bringing High-Speed Broadband to Vocational Schools in Palestine

  1. Posted by Aaron Mason on May 3, 2013 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

A high-speed wireless antenna sits alongside a Palestinian flag in Salfit, Palestine. Photo: Bob Marsh
A high-speed wireless antenna sits alongside a Palestinian flag in Salfit, Palestine. Photo: Bob Marsh

In 2011 the students of Salfit Secondary Industrial School enjoyed what appeared to be a well-appointed computer lab. One of eleven schools in Palestine’s Technical Vocational Educational Training (TVET) program, the school’s desktop computers formed neat rows along the lab’s walls. Flat-screen monitors glowed with Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.

But looking closely and you’d have found very little movement on those pages. The internet, while technically available via the school’s DSL line, was incredibly slow. Loading simple pages would often take minutes when they would load at all.

Computer lab at the Salfit Secondary Industrial School, one of the TVET schools connected by Inveneo. Photo: Bob Marsh
Computer lab at the Salfit Secondary Industrial School, one of the TVET schools connected by Inveneo. Photo: Bob Marsh

In 2011 Inveneo was contacted by USAID, Cisco and the Palestinian Ministry of Education who were all looking for a solution to the bandwidth problem. These eleven schools were established to provide core vocational training – from auto repair to computer science to agriculture – to the next generation of Palestinian workers, an important part of the Ministry’s educational plans. Remote training, centralized data and advanced collaboration tools, all envisioned as part of the TVET system, had simply not been possible. With Inveneo’s expertise and funding provided by Craig Newmark’s CraigConnects organization, the decision was made to connect the schools in the TVET system with high-speed broadband.

Computer science students at Nablus Industrial Secondary School. Photo: Bob Marsh
Computer science students at Nablus Industrial Secondary School. Photo: Bob Marsh

The first step was to begin conducting site surveys at each of the schools, including an all-girls school and a school across the Israeli-Palestine wall.

“When I first visited the TVETs they all had DSL,” said Inveneo’s Bob Marsh, “but it was heavily congested to the point of being basically unusable. At least one was getting just 8kbps, which is just one-seventh of old-school dial-up. I met one principal who had to disconnect the entire school every time he needed to send just one email, and even then it would take fifteen minutes to go out.”

Antiquated infrastructure and extreme network congestion are common across Palestine, where unreliable service and massively shared connections are more rule than exception. What the TVETs needed was a new network from the ground up.

In 2012 Marsh returned to Palestine to evaluate vendors and proposals. A number of different network designs and implementation partners were considered and ultimately a set of high-bandwidth wireless connections were designed to connect the TVETs to one another directly via VPN, bypassing any existing infrastructure. This design would guarantee high-speed connectivity between the schools allowing direct communication and the sharing of a single high-speed internet connection. Once the network was designed a sustainable service and maintenance plan was developed.

CoolNet was selected as the local implementation partner based on their bid as well as their track record implementing the previously successful Model Schools Network, another Inveneo-guided project connecting 57 schools all over Palestine’s West Bank. A final contract was agreed on covering equipment, installation, internet service and inter-school connectivity for three years.

An IT teacher inspects an antenna on top of the Hebron Industrial Secondary School in Hebron, Palestine. Photo: Robert Marsh
An IT teacher inspects an antenna on top of the Hebron Industrial Secondary School in Hebron, Palestine. Photo: Robert Marsh

In early 2013 the project install was completed and Marsh returned to Palestine to perform a comprehensive performance test and site inspection of the system. Visiting each of the TVET sites, Marsh visually inspected every element of the system, checking that wires were nailed down, networking cable was set in conduit and visiting the rooftops to physically tug on equipment.

After completing physical inspections at each site Marsh tested the network performance using several independent tools. The websites Speedtest.net and pingtest.net along with the open-source bandwidth measurement tool Jperf were used.

The result? Connection speeds of 10Mbps were confirmed at each of the schools, and a 30Mbps connection was confirmed between the network core and the internet at large. The network was 100% operational and Internet speeds at each of the schools were now registering at over 1,000 times faster than in 2011. Broadband had arrived.

Virtual network diagram showing the TVET locations.
Virtual network diagram showing the TVET locations.

The full inspection took a total of just four days. The remote nature of several of the locations in Palestine made travel logistics a challenge, but the high quality of the installation, adherence to contract specifications and the stellar network performance made verification easy for Marsh.

“The most amazing thing about this trip is that nothing unexpected happened,” said Marsh, “This project was a smooth operation from start to finish with no surprises. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

Marsh with the principal of the Salfit Secondary Industrial School.
Marsh with the principal of the Salfit Secondary Industrial School.

The success of the TVET project validates Inveneo’s position that design, local knowledge and the right partners are just as important as technology in broadband deployments. The combination of technical expertise and local partnerships allowed Inveneo’s role to be one of evaluation and oversight, keeping expenses low and local.

“The TVET project is a great example of Inveneo’s design abilities,” said Kristin Peterson, Inveneo’s CEO. “This would have normally been an incredibly expensive project, but we came in with deep networking experience, a unbiased approach researching all options and a focus on meeting the needs of the TVETs. Our experience and local partnerships made this possible, affordable and sustainable.”

Unfortunately Marsh’s last trip coincided with the beginning of a large-scale Palestinian teacher strike, and as of writing the schools have not returned to a full schedule. Once the strike is settled and students arrive, however, the Internet, powerful educational tools and the whole world will finally be at their fingertips.

The campus of Nablus Industrial Secondary School, waiting for students to return. Photo: Bob Marsh
The campus of Nablus Industrial Secondary School, waiting for students to return. Photo: Bob Marsh