- Posted by Inveneo on September 23, 2015 in the categories: News
Inveneo, in partnership with ARM, LeMaker, and Protocase, is pleased to announce that a winner has been selected for its recent $10,000 Micro-Data Center Design Challenge. Congratulations to William Weatherholtz and his team “Micro Weather” who are the winners of the $10,000 challenge! Mr. Weatherholtz, who lives in Utah in the United States, describes his team’s design in the following statement:
“This design challenge [was] essentially an enclosure and heat problem. The concerns with racking, powering, and layout of the data center components are relatively trivial to determining how to prevent heat issues.
Our design plans to tackle these difficult challenges…by mounting the solar panels on top to converting the highest source of incident radiation/heat into useful power. We anticipate the overall design being quite shallow, to maximize solar power generation, minimize cost, and minimize failure due to the enclosure tipping over. There is some give and take here however, as a taller fixture will allow higher thermal convection, since the air moves faster.”
(Pictured, L-R: Garrett Johnson, Victoria Johnson, Kelly Weatherholtz; not pictured Joshua Wickern, Bradley Weatherholtz, Landon Weatherholtz)
Coming in second place is “RuggedPOD”, a team from France who was lead by Jean-Marie Verdun. Each member of RuggedPOD will receive a Google Nexus 7 tablet as a prize for his or her hard work and design.
For this design challenge, Inveneo gathered together judges from its own staff, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ARM, LeMaker, and several members from Protocase. There were 50 teams who were accepted to the challenge from all over the world, including China, Italy, Rwanda, India, The United States, Turkey, Kenya, England, Poland, and Haiti. The judges and Inveneo’s partners were amazed with so many terrific designs, which were entered into the contest.
LeMaker, Protocase, ARM, and Inveneo would like to congratulate all the contestants and teams for all their outstanding engineered designs!
Inveneo would also like to thank its partners ARM, Protocase, and LeMaker for all the collaboration and great ideas that made this contest an incredible success. We hope that these winning designs (and other outstanding contributions) will become great innovations in the world of micro-data centers.
- Posted by Inveneo on September 14, 2015 in the categories: News
Are you interested in digital content for both hardware and software? Do you live in San Francisco or the Bay Area? Inveneo could be looking for YOU!
Inveneo is investigating new and innovative technologies to deliver digital content to rural schools in developing regions which are off-the-power grid and have no Internet connection. Two technologies we would like hands-on help with include Outernet and Rachel Pi.
The work would first entail setting up the hardware and software of these systems and testing their approach, benefits, and limitations. Then, it would involve investigating (from a software approach) how to integrate these systems together to work in a rural school.
We are looking for a volunteer with a Computer Science background, Linux command line skills, and a desire to help create a solution that can benefit rural schools across the globe. We ask the volunteer to work a minimum of five (5) hours per week, primarily in the San Francisco office. The individual would work directly under the Engineering Department, and additional comprehensive work may be requested for ICT support. This position could continue after the initial research is completed.
Please send your resume and a brief cover letter to Jana Melpolder if you would like to apply. Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis.
- Posted by Inveneo on September 11, 2015 in the categories: News
Note: Inveneo, in partnership with ARM Limited, LeMaker, and Protocase, is pleased to announce that a winner has been selected for its recent $10,000 Micro-Data Center Design Challenge. Congratulations to William Weatherholtz and his team “Micro Weather” who are the winners of the $10,000 challenge! Coming in second place is “RuggedPOD”, a team from France who was lead by Jean-Marie Verdun. Each member of RuggedPOD will receive a Google Nexus 7 tablet as a prize for his or her hard work and design.
They have different interests. One teaches dance. Another is a helicopter pilot-in-training. One is a software engineer. Another is a carpenter. Still another, a studio artist. But they came together with a shared purpose: to try to improve conditions in Third World countries.
Meet William Weatherholtz and team, who just won the Inveneo solar-powered Micro-Data Center Design Challenge ( Bruce Baikie) for their Micro Weather station design. The team’s winning entry is an object lesson in how creative methodology, a diverse team and carefully considered components selection just might help transform developing societies.
“I have a soft spot for Third World countries and I’m really interested in finding ways to improve conditions there,” Weatherholtz said in an interview. “I felt like this was a project that played to my strengths and my desire to educate.”
The design criteria for weather stations is unique: How do you deal with rain, rust, long-term durability, a lack of power sources, and little critters that like to gnaw on things in the wild? Weatherholtz (pictured to the far right of the nearby photo) and his team (pictured, L-R: Garrett Johnson, Victoria Johnson, Kelly Weatherholtz; not pictured Joshua Wickern, Bradley Weatherholtz, Landon Weatherholtz) embraced a unique methodology that included using Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats philosophy. The approach is designed to help improve team perspective and collaboration during projects. This was a particular interest because the seven team members were dispersed across the country.
“Everyone was assigned a different perspective,” said Weatherholtz, a mechatronics engineer. “So for example, someone was assigned an aspect of the design that only considered price; someone else would focus on aesthetics, and so forth.”
The team rotated through these different considerations and perspectives and then amalgamated different parts of the design into the one they liked.
The team started by identifying the customer needs and translating those into engineering characteristics:
- What type of battery was required?
- How much back-up power would be needed? (the team targeted five days for it to run on back-up power initially but ended up at 2.5-3 days—more on that shortly).
- What other design considerations might be unique for a developing country?
- What were the environmental needs of the device casing?
Here’s a look at how the team tackled some of the design considerations.
This was an extremely critical component that needed to be as reliable as possible. Additionally, the team had to understand how much power they could pack into a small space. Should they push the limits for longer back-up power capability and accept the consequences? Additionally, what type of batteries could be shipped internationally?
“We tried to pick a battery with a very high energy density and moderate size, but the battery is still pretty heavy and large,” Weatherholtz said. “Adding another battery would mean another cubic foot of space and an extra 60 pounds in the design.”
At the end of the day, two and a half days backup capability seemed good enough for most applications, he said. That meant the battery could recharge in four hours with sufficient power, and most places get at least five hours of good sunlight, he added. The team ended up selecting an absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery—essentially a golf cart battery—that doesn’t spill, tip or have vulnerable components inside.
This was one of those developing-country considerations, where ready reliable power sources are hard to find, if not non-existent. Even though it was the team’s first time working with solar, adopting the technology was key. “It’s a fantastic solution in a remote data center application because a data center is a static structure,” Weatherholtz said. “It allowed us to take advantage of that big fusion generator in the sky.”
The team considered plastic but wanted the system to be able to take a pounding. So they settled on aluminum, a reliable material, which conveniently could serve as a sizable heat sink. They designed to a worst-case scenario of 50C ambient temperature with direct sunlight, no humidity, and no moving air.
“One of our main design criterion was to make the enclosure—and enclosed electronics—reliable. For us, that meant it needed to be completely sealed with no moving parts,” Weatherholtz said.
Single Board Computer
The contest criteria specified the SBC. As a designer and engineer, Weatherholtz said he doesn’t really like being shoehorned into a solution, but, that said, “the Banana Pi boards were hard to beat,” he acknowledged. The Banana Pi, based on ARM Cortex-A7 with Mali-400 GPU and running open source software, is designed to be inexpensive, small and flexible.
The technology was “robust, open source and low power,” he said. “When you’re dealing with IoT applications and micro data centers, you don’t have a lot of power and you can’t have a lot of heat, so ARM is best.”
One challenge is that boards such as this typically have two sources of heat — RAM and processor. The team undertook considerable thermodynamic analysis and determined that getting rid of heat was key. The Banana Pi boards were ideal, Weatherholtz said, because the two sources of heat were on the bottom face and as a result, the team was able to direct the heat in the optimal direction. Had the CPU/RAM been on top, then it would have been more challenging to get the heat out, he added.
What was his biggest lesson?
Weatherholtz and team spent a total of 150 engineering hours on the project, for which competitors used ARM-based solutions to create the “micro-board chassis” designs. They will share the $10,000 prize and the design will be built and deployed in the developing world.
“I really can’t overstate the importance of thermal analysis in projects like these,” Weatherholtz said. “If heat doesn’t have a good way to escape, it’s going to build up and cause high temperatures that make your electronics fail, or at least fail prematurely.”
“For us, making a low thermal-resistance path out of the case was a main design consideration. We identified where the heat was being generated (see image right), and then got it out. Everything centered on that. Where we placed components, what we placed them on, how we connected them to what they were placed on… everything.”
Written by Brian Fuller, an employee of ARM. This post was originally posted on ARM Community and was republished with permission from the author.
- Posted by Inveneo on August 18, 2015 in the categories: Publications
Inveneo is proud to announce that, due to its projects and Project Manager in Haiti Michelet Guerrier, there are now 71 more teachers who are digitally literate in Haiti. This newly published report is about an ICT Pilot Program [Extension of the Transforming Teaching Through Tablets (TTT) project] to improve Haitian teacher capacity and access to digital educational resources. Inveneo implemented this pilot program in three primary schools in three different regions in Haiti from March to June 2014 (Petit-Goave, Hyacinthe, and Cascade Pichon) before we expanded the program to reach more than 30 secondary teachers in Petit-Goave. The program’s main goal was to demonstrate the benefits of using tablets in a school environment to build teacher capacity and make educational resources available for teachers.
We re-designed the project to fit not only primary school teachers, but also those working in secondary schools. Read the report and check out all the updates!
- Posted by Inveneo on August 4, 2015 in the categories: News
The Inveneo team has been privileged this summer to welcome onto its staff Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti, a graduate student currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice department at Columbia University. Mariela came to Inveneo highly recommended from the program’s manager, Ms. Debi Spindelman.
Mariela is a telecommunications engineer with 5 years of work experience in the ICT sector and describes herself as “passionate about applying ICT for development issues of education, health, agriculture improvements and poverty reduction”. This passion started back in 2006 when she worked for an ICT for development project for the Peruvian NGO EHAS, where she designed and implemented an Internet and IP phone for a local health center. In addition, she speaks five languages and previously earned a Master’s Degree in Information and Communications Technologies in Spain.
Throughout her Inveneo internship, Mariela will be spending most of her time working alongside the engineering department, developing a new M&E approach for new existing Inveneo projects and studying drones for Inveneo’s upcoming Drones 4 Good project. Inveneo has also asked her to research current Internet connectivity in Cuba, including national policies and laws related to ICT and freedom of speech. Additionally, she will be testing the new promise of ICT4D for rural areas called Lantern from Outernet. This device claims to provide Internet connectivity from the satellite for educational purposes, providing offline libraries to rural settings that lack ICT infrastructure. The results will be published on ICTworks.
In her spare time this summer, Mariela is also conducting research for the Earth Institute together with Jeffrey Sachs that will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly this fall. She is looking into how ICT could be an enabler to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) related to health, education, energy and financial inclusion. She is focusing on the health sector and how ICT innovations could help improve health outcomes in the world. Be sure to look for a snapshot of her research and findings on ICTworks, coming early this fall.
Welcome to the team, Mariela! We’re so glad to have you on board!
- Posted by Inveneo on June 18, 2015 in the categories: External, News, Press
Inveneo, in partnership with Facebook, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cisco, EveryLayer, and NetHope, as part of the joint Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI), succeeded in delivering 100 new high-speed Internet connections to government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Humanitarian workers working in West Africa’s healthcare sector are now able to go online thanks to Inveneo and partners from the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) project.
As a result of this project, individuals working in NGO, UN, or government offices, Ebola treatment facilities, hospitals, and logistical hubs can now use high-speed broadband Internet to connect with healthcare applications, NGO headquarters, healthcare workers, and friends and family.
Inveneo delivered the milestone of 100 connections in less than five months. According to Inveneo’s Executive Director, Bruce Baikie, “The commitment and close collaboration of all partners was essential. The true stars of this project were the field teams, which included staff from Inveneo and Damsel, Inveneo’s certified partner in Sierra Leone. The field teams were just incredible, scaling rooftops and towers up to 175 feet high to install equipment underneath the blazing hot West African sun, six or more days a week in the realization that every connection counts to help save a life and create a more resilient healthcare system.”
This project establishes a sustainable infrastructure for high-speed Internet access in remote areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia, which plays a key role in preventing and/or mitigating future disease outbreaks while helping organizations respond more efficiently and effectively to community needs.
The ERCI Project Partners
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
Founded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and his sister Jody Allen in 1988, the Allen family’s philanthropy is dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities by fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress. Since inception, the Foundation has awarded over $529 million to more than 1,500 nonprofit groups to support and advance their critical charitable endeavors in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The Foundation’s funding programs nurture the arts, engage children in learning, address the needs of vulnerable populations, advance scientific and technological discoveries, and provide economic relief amid the downturn. For more information, visit http://www.pgafamilyfoundation.org.
Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to http://thenetwork.cisco.com.
EveryLayer has developed a cloud-based software platform and new approach that allows ISPs to deliver faster, better, cheaper broadband in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia. EveryLayer’s platform simplifies how providers design, deploy and manage low cost last mile networks and provides technical and commercial blueprints so service providers can speed to market in weeks, not months, with new services that are 80% lower cost than leading broadband providers.
Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise that delivers the tools of technology – sustainable computing and broadband – to those who need it most in the developing world, to transform lives through better education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and faster relief. Inveneo is leveraging more than 10 years of experience of successfully introducing technology and expanding connectivity to underserved areas of Sub-Saharan Africa to implement this project.
Founded in 2001, NetHope is a consortium of 42 leading international humanitarian organizations providing emergency relief, human development and conservation programs in more than 180 countries. Through member collaboration and by facilitating public-private partnerships with major technology companies, NetHope enables members to leverage their technology investments to better serve their end beneficiaries.
- Posted by Inveneo on June 12, 2015 in the categories: News
Longtime Inveneo friend and colleague Dr. Laura Hosman has led her students this past semester on an exciting digital library project at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. One of the project’s leaders, Cecillia Tran, is a 5th year Liberal Arts Engineering Studies Major, and she recently spoke with Inveneo to give an explanation of the ICT project. She has been inspired by how people can make a powerful impact just by using older technology in inventive ways. Read the interview below.
- Inveneo: What is the SPELL Project?
SPELL stands for Solar Powered Educational Learning Library. Students in the Federated States of Micronesia as well as Vanuatu have no access to Internet or electricity in their schools. Our solution was to create and donate 50 solar-powered mini servers, pre-loaded with educational content, that could be connected to any WiFi enabled device through a WiFi dongle. The educational content our team curated onto an SD card was based through extensive research of what levels of education were needed on the islands. Some of the materials used were various Khan Academy videos on subject matters such as math, writing, and science. Due to a recent typhoon, we also decided to upload weather related content so students are better prepared if another accident were to happen.
Dr. Laura Hosman (left) with several of her students working on the SPELL project.
- Since the Banana Pis are going to Chuuk, will the educational content be in English, Chuukese, or another language?
The educational content will be in English, since students are required to learn English in the classroom. However, there will be some content that is in Chuukese.
- What is the role that students play within the SPELL Project?
We divided into four teams. There is a contents and deployment team who are responsible for researching and curating the educational materials that is put on the SD card. There is a design team responsible for creating the outer shell for the mini-server itself so that there is a protective casing and an attached solar panel to power the server. We also have a SPOT team (systems performance optimization team) that is responsible for testing and configuring the Banana Pi (mini server) and WiFi dongle. And also, we have a promotions team that is responsible for the marketing and branding of the project. We even created a website and logo for the team.
- How will this project made a difference in Micronesia?
This project will give students who don’t have access to Internet or electricity a new way to receive their education. They will have the chance to be able to interact with electronic devices that many of us are fortunate enough to have easy access to. Our contents team is working very hard to provide a good, substantial amount of information and educational materials that would be helpful. The platform could possibly open their minds and eyes like never before.
- What lessons have you learned from this project?
I think we learned a lot of real world skills, especially teamwork; our class was composed of students from many different backgrounds of education. For example, we have many liberal arts and engineering studies majors, as well as electrical engineering, computer science, journalism, graphic communication, and political science. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge and have seen many different perspectives as we’ve moved along through different parts of the project. We also learned that projects will not always go as planned. We have hit many bumps in the road and have had to change directions, but it was a good experience for all of us. We managed to work our way through them. Finally, we learned a lot about Chuuk and the islands, what educational access they have, and how we can make a difference. That’s what excited me about this class: this project really could make a difference and we could reach out to people who are in need. It’s exciting to be a part of a project that would go beyond the classroom and make a tangible difference that matters in the world.
- What can the ICT community learn from SPELL’s experience?
I think it’s amazing what a difference a small group of 15 people can make. We were donated 50 Banana Pi brand units, given as part of LeMaker’s non-profit educational program. We turned them into a powerful educational tool that we believe could make a real difference in Chuuk students’ lives, as well as other countries, that may not have Internet access or electricity in their schools.
The ICT community should be aware that anything can make a difference. Products that one may think is outdated can be turned into something incredible that would help people. Sometimes it’s the small but innovative changes that can make a big impact.
- Posted by Inveneo on June 4, 2015 in the categories: Events
Inveneo is proud to announce that its Executive Director, Bruce Baikie, has recently accepted position as a member of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) for Development Subcommittee to the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee for International Communications and Information Policy. He has been chosen as one of 20 nationally recognized experts to be the first members of the ACICIP ICT4D Subcommittee, set to launch on July 8th, 2015.
Executive Director Bruce Baikie in Washington D.C.
Mr. Baikie is thrilled to be a part of this exciting and innovative group of ICT leaders. “ICT has become an embedded part of any international aid or relief project, yet is still a challenge for governmental funding to fully support ICT in emerging regions. I hope to directly support policy to solve this critical piece of the aid and relief puzzle to provide positive outcomes to closing the digital divide,” says Baikie.
The Subcommittee was created to push the ICT field even further as technology continues to improve and transform lives around the world. Ambassador Sepulveda explains the agenda further: “This Subcommittee will develop a set of recommendations that the USG could take to leverage ICT to advance development objectives. ACICIP ICT4D Subcommittee recommendations will be reported to the full Advisory Committee, which will review the Subcommittee’s recommendations and, if approved, make appropriate recommendations to the Department of State to inform our policy positions.”
Congratulations, Bruce! The Inveneo team is proud to have its Executive Director be part of this powerful committee. This Subcommittee will surely make an incredible impact in the field of ICT for communities worldwide.
- Posted by Inveneo on June 2, 2015 in the categories: Education, Publications
Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo’s Project Manager in Haiti, recently led a computer training session for the community members in La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti.
After a 10-station computer lab installation in La Vallee de Jacmel, Inveneo was re-contacted for training recommendations. Once the needs assessment was initiated, Inveneo agreed to provide and empower the community members with basic computer training. La Vallee Alliance selected the candidates to participate in the training. They included teachers, school directors, and secondary school students.
Inveneo and Michelet Guerrier published a report on the computer training course and outcomes. Please take a look and discover the exciting results and impact that a computer training course can make for a community in Haiti!
- Posted by Inveneo on May 15, 2015 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, News, Projects
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.
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.
Struggles 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.