Inveneo Cisco Archives

Inveneo Delivers 100 New Internet Connections for Ebola Fight in West Africa

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 18, 2015 in the categories: Events
Be Sociable, Share!

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.

End Users

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

Facebook
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
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
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.
http://www.everylayer.com

Inveneo
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.
http://www.inveneo.org

NetHope
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.
http://www.nethope.org

What Is Inveneo Doing in the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) Project?

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 21, 2015 in the categories: News
Be Sociable, Share!

Inveneo recently co-launched the exciting announcement about its partnership in expanding ICT support in West Africa in order to fight and stop the spread of Ebola. Our team is proud to recently partner up with Cisco, Facebook, EveryLayer, NetHope, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation in order to provide sustainable Internet connectivity in medical centers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. These new Internet connections will enhance Internet connectivity for relief agencies, reorder supplies, and more. The Inveneo team will be working hard with our Inveneo Certified ICT Partners (ICIPs) in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa to ensure connectivity for those who need it most in Ebola-stricken communities.

16124307380_4f8b755373_o

Members of a training session that Inveneo held in San Francisco.

As a partner of the ERCI project, Inveneo recently hosted a training session for all current and incoming Inveneo contractors and engineers. Led by EveryLayer’s Andris Bjornson, the training session provided our engineers specific details on how EveryLayer designed the project’s broadband solution. According to our recent Press Release, our project “is based on a combination of extending satellite technology and strengthening existing service provider networks with carrier-grade Wi-Fi technology. The network can be deployed at a lower cost and on a faster time horizon than traditional mobile networks.” It is Inveneo’s job going forward to deploy this architectured solution and bring it to a full reality. We will be doing so while working alongside local partners as well to ensure that sustainable, low-cost Internet connectivity is available in relief agency offices and medical centers long after Inveneo staff leave West Africa.

16321658155_0d574bea14_o

Preliminary planning meeting in Accra. From left to right: Inveneo’s Eric Kunke, Emerson Tan, Inveneo’s Senior Field Engineer Samuel Perales, Kafui Prebbie, and Inveneo ICIP Eugene Tani-Luke. Photo Credit: Eugene Tani-Luke/Inveneo

Going forward, Inveneo will have staff members or local partners continuously in Ghana and Sierra Leone. We recently deployed Senior Field Engineer Samuel Perales and Engineer Eric Kuhnke to Accra, Ghana to coordinate with staff of NetHope and other NGOs to plan next steps. They have been taking extensive preventative measures to ensure health and safety at all times. In addition, much of our equipment has been arriving in a warehouse in Accra, Ghana, and in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and our staff has been very busy organizing all the equipment.

Our team is thrilled to work together with our partners and ICIPs throughout the ERCI project. We will keep you updating on how the project is progressing with posts, photos, interviews and more. Best of luck to our staff members and local partners – be safe and we look forward to watching the ERCI project unfold!

16240075975_0c7178ea9a_o

A VSat installation at Port Loko Ebola Treatment Center in Sierra Leone – Photo Credit: Eugene Tani-Luke/Inveneo

Partnership Expands ICT Support for Ebola Fight in West Africa

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 21, 2015 in the categories: Events, External, News, Press
Be Sociable, Share!

DAVOS, SwitzerlandJan. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — NetHope, a consortium of 42 leading international humanitarian organizations, announced today a partnership with Facebook, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cisco, EveryLayer and Inveneo to expand their support for effective communications capabilities to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and promote sustainable recovery in the region.

The joint Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) will deliver high-speed broadband Internet access to Ebola responders based in hundreds of Ebola treatment facilities, NGO offices, and additional logistical hubs in Sierra LeoneLiberia and Guinea. Reliable communications capacity is an essential tool for response organizations combating the outbreak, which has killed more than 8,600 people according the World Health Organization. Slow, unreliable access to the Internet remains a major challenge for coordinating the Ebola relief effort, particularly in some of the hardest hit areas that lack any form of high-speed broadband. Existing networks have also been strained by the influx of relief workers and agencies in the region, increasing demand on the already fragile infrastructure. Effective ICT capacity enables rapid access and exchange of information, real-time case management and contact tracking, outbreak mapping, community mobilization, and supply and logistics management.

“Effective communications and information sharing is simply fundamental to the work of our teams and local partners fighting this complex emergency in West Africa,” said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International, a global humanitarian organization providing community-based health centers, public health information campaigns, medical and food supplies, and training for health workers in West Africa. “The ability of our teams to access and share information in real time is not simply a matter of greater efficiency — it simply saves lives.”

The ERCI expands on the participating organizations’ support for rapid-deployment communications solutions delivered to West Africa in late 2014 to meet immediate needs on the ground. That initial support for Ebola response organizations included:

  • Facebook’s donation of 100 satellite terminals to provide emergency connectivity to high-priority locations within Ebola affected countries
  • Connectivity accelerator funds provided by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to increase existing connectivity at 45 locations, many of which will serve as connectivity distribution sites for ERCI
  • These initial deployments have provided emergency communications capability to more than 25 NetHope member NGOs and other response organizations with more than 3,000 staff and volunteers working on the frontlines of the crisis

“As we’ve worked together in recent months to support the connectivity needs of response organizations and impacted communities, there has been a clear recognition by all involved of two central facts: the scope of the challenge is enormous and communications capacity is essential for virtually every Ebola response related intervention,” said NetHope CEO Lauren Woodman. “This unique collaboration among global leaders in technology, philanthropy and the NGO sector harnesses their combined commitment, innovation and expertise to meet the immense challenges in both the short and long term.”

The joint initiative will significantly expand the scope and sustainability of the communications capacity, supporting thousands of response workers and ultimately millions of individuals through:

  • Deployment and operation of additional infrastructure and equipment in the impacted countries through support from Facebook and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This will be based on the priority needs of NetHope NGO members and other response organizations with a focus on shared services with local partners and long-term benefit for local communities.
  • Data analysis on connectivity in the impacted countries, conducted by Facebook’s Data Science Team. This includes working closely with NetHope and mobile network operators to map locations that have the geographic need for Internet connectivity and the technological capability to provide it.
  • On-site hotspot equipment and financial support from Cisco Meraki, that enables responders to connect laptops, phones and tablets to improve all communications related to the relief effort.
  • The broadband solution, architected by EveryLayer and deployed by Inveneo and its certified partners, is based on a combination of extending satellite technology and strengthening existing service provider networks with carrier-grade Wi-Fi technology. The network can be deployed at a lower cost and on a faster time horizon than traditional mobile networks.
  • Partnerships with local mobile network operators and improvements to local infrastructure will ensure that communities have access to long-term, low-cost connectivity beyond the short-term Ebola relief effort.

“The Internet can be an enabler for basic needs like healthcare, and we are seeing that firsthand with Ebola response efforts,” said Chris Weasler, Facebook’s Director of Global Connectivity. “The communications capacity that we are implementing with this extraordinary partnership is one step in supporting the work that the doctors, nurses and health professionals have bravely led in West Africa. We believe that ERCI can deliver critical tools, talent and resources to help those on the front lines access and send lifesaving information and stay in touch with their families and friends at home. By providing courageous medical professionals with the right support, we hope to encourage others to follow their path and fight the spread of this disease.”

“From the early stages of this crisis we recognized the need for connectivity and data collection in containing and ultimately stopping Ebola,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Ebola Program Lead for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Working together we can build an infrastructure that will have an immediate impact as well as long-term effect to help the countries recover once this crisis is over.”

“Every day, we see people face seemingly overwhelming issues. Working with partners, using our expertise and technology, we can help respond to critical human needs. We do this through Cisco’s employees and our technology; bringing people together to tackle global challenges faster,” said Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “By providing the resources, the technology and the experience to address the connectivity demands of the first responders, aid organizations and governments, we hope to multiply the positive impact of connecting the experts who are working tirelessly toward a breakthrough in the fight against the spread of this disease.”

“High-speed, reliable Internet access is a key lever to stopping the spread of Ebola,” said Mark Summer, CEO and Co-founder of EveryLayer. “An additional benefit to ERCI’s approach is that once we’ve won the fight against Ebola, the broadband infrastructure and partnerships will stay in place and continue to deliver high-speed Internet to local businesses and customers, which will help communities thrive for years to come.”

“ICT is an important tool in combating Ebola. Inveneo is excited to build out key communication infrastructure to support needed ICT tools. We are leveraging our local partners in country to assure locally trained personnel support the effort and to provide long-term sustainability,” said Bruce Baikie, Executive Director of Inveneo.

About the ERCI Partners 

About Facebook
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.

About The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
Launched by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jo Lynn 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 $446 million to more than 1,400 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, go to www.pgafamilyfoundation.org.

About Cisco
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) 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.

About EveryLayer
EveryLayer (formerly Volo Broadband) enables broadband service providers (ISPs and Mobile Network Operators) in emerging markets to provide radically lower cost high-speed services in weeks, not months. EveryLayer’s cloud-based ISP network and service automation platform simplifies how providers design and manage fixed wireless networks, set up and provision services, and serve and bill customers. EveryLayer’s expert team provides technical and commercial design blueprints and training, enabling service providers to gain skills to rapidly deploy lower cost fixed wireless networks and broadband services using carrier grade last-mile WiFi networking technologies. EveryLayer is the partner for service providers who are ready to deliver better, faster, cheaper broadband everywhere.

About Inveneo
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.

About NetHope
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.

 

SOURCE NetHope

RELATED LINKS
http://www.nethope.org

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

Video: Community Knowledge Centers

  1. Posted by Aaron Mason on January 18, 2013 in the categories: News
Be Sociable, Share!

A long-time supporter of Inveneo, Cisco recently put together this beautiful video of the Community Knowledge Centers (CKCs). To learn more about Inveneo’s partnership with Cisco and the CKC projects, have a look through our past CKC-related posts.

How Better Connectivity Can Help Dadaab, the World's Largest Refugee Camp

  1. Posted by sguser on June 6, 2012 in the categories: News, Projects, Relief
Be Sociable, Share!

The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years have threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered.

UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Refugees) is the lead agency responding to this crisis, and many major humanitarian agencies including Care, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee are operating in Dadaab providing critical services such as food distribution, housing, sanitation and medical relief. The teams are stretched to their limits. To make matters even more difficult Al Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist group, recently escalated its activities in and around the camps, making the operations more dangerous for the refugees and the agencies providing vital assistance.

How Better Connectivity Can Help

In the fall of 2011, Inveneo was invited by NetHope, a consortium of 34 member Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Program to identify opportunities to bring better, more reliable Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the region. Inveneo and NetHope mobilized teams to travel to arid northeast Kenya, to assess the situation in detail, and to determine what could be accomplished.

On the ground in Dadaab, it was clear from the United Nations (UN) and NGO community that bringing incremental, reliable and affordable Internet access would lead to better overall communications, coordination and security thereby increasing the staff capacity to deliver critical and life-sustaining food, housing, sanitation and medical care. Inveneo, working with Cisco’s TacOps could install and configure a local high-speed network, the Dadaab organizations could immediately begin to collaborate and share information more effectively. An existing UNHCR-led network initiative for smaller NGOs and community centers needed to be reviewed substantively to ensure that any new networking designs would be compatible, complimentary and synergistic.

NetHope, Inveneo and TacOps obtained commitments from Cisco to donate equipment, and from USAID and UNHCR to provide funding. It was determined that there were two major areas where Inveneo could bring technical and strategic expertise to make a real difference.

  1. First, we initiated and led a strategic business and engineering partnership with Orange, a local Kenyan mobile and landline telecommunications service provider, to extend new data services into the Dadaab compound using our long-distance WiFi solutions. NetHope aggregated the demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community, and we secured agreement from Orange to a preferred pricing arrangement as well as to adequate initial and ongoing capacity. Orange is making their highly reliable Internet connectivity available by providing backhaul from their existing Dadaab tower to international fiber networks. We designed a detailed, local distribution network and training plan to enable Orange and prequalified Dadaab IT staff to quickly grasp, support and connect to the Inveneo-designed access solutions.
  2. Second, Inveneo and TacOps would co-design a high-speed network to connect the Dadaab agencies locally and to enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency collaboration technologies like file sharing, video conferencing designed by Cisco and voice over IP telephony applications. This collaboration network, DadaabNET, would also provide a Cisco router-based failover configuration to switch agency traffic to a 4-Mbps, UNHCR-provided satellite system in the event of primary connection failure. This effort involved IP addressing and configuration support from both Cisco and Inveneo as well as consultative engineering support from UNHCR and the Dadaab Aid Agency IT staff.

Status and Results

Inveneo’s work was successfully completed in March 2012. During the week of March 12, we trained in-country technical teams from Orange, from the Dadaab-based NGO technical staff, and from our local Inveneo Certified ICT Partner Setright. Orange hosted the classroom training session in Nairobi that provided hands-on instruction on long distance WiFi. We offered our custom practical curriculum in both network design and installation. Then the training moved outside to physically install equipment on buildings and way up on an Orange telecommunications tower. Inveneo has a strong partnership with Petzl to share safe climbing at height techniques in developing countries with communications workers. The trainings were held in Nairobi because a risk assessment determined Dadaab too insecure at that time.

During the week of March 19, Inveneo, NetHope, Setright and Cisco’s local gold partner Dimension Data teams traveled to Dadaab. Monday and Tuesday, our team worked side-by-side with the newly trained NGO, Orange and Setright teams in Dadaab, giving them the guidance and confidence to successfully complete the Orange and UNHCR tower installations.

The Orange tower is the hub for the access network and the UNHCR tower is the hub for DadaabNET. Dimension Data was also busy meeting with IT staff at the installation sites: consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff and completing the initial router configurations.

As part of the training and skills building plan, we left Dadaab late Tuesday afternoon to cover training the Orange Network Operations Center in Nairobi. While away, the six newly trained agency staff were charged with the installation of Customer Premise Equipment for both the access and DadaabNET networks. The team includes staff from UNHCR, World Food Program, Norwegian Refugee Counsel, Care, Oxfam and Kenya Red Cross so it was truly an interagency support group. The expectation was that four or five sites could be installed, and then reviewed and verified after our return. On Thursday in Dadaab, we found our expectations were far exceeded.

The DadaabNET team installed 19 radios at ten agency locations. For two days, we verified the work and fine-tuned the implementations. Future installs and troubleshooting can now be completed by the local IT team with our team positioned to provide remote support for existing and ongoing humanitarian agency installations. The DadaabNET team has taken full ownership of the networks.

All future troubleshooting, support and installations will be managed frontline by the local DadaabNET interagency team. By the same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco TacOps successfully implemented and tested routing at all ten newly installed locations and ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNET team.

The initial bandwidth contracted was fully installed. Orange is on track to add triple the amount available to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.

This connectivity is already enabling the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate between agencies, and to support overall operations. They also have plans to move more costly VSAT systems to failover mode. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment.

As a result of this project, Inveneo, Cisco, NetHope and Orange will also continue to grow their partnerships and collaborations so that there will be ever increasing opportunities to extend broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.

The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.

How Better Connectivity Can Help Dadaab, the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 6, 2012 in the categories: News, Projects, Relief
Be Sociable, Share!

The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years have threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered.

UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Refugees) is the lead agency responding to this crisis, and many major humanitarian agencies including Care, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee are operating in Dadaab providing critical services such as food distribution, housing, sanitation and medical relief. The teams are stretched to their limits. To make matters even more difficult Al Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist group, recently escalated its activities in and around the camps, making the operations more dangerous for the refugees and the agencies providing vital assistance.

How Better Connectivity Can Help

In the fall of 2011, Inveneo was invited by NetHope, a consortium of 34 member Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Program to identify opportunities to bring better, more reliable Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the region. Inveneo and NetHope mobilized teams to travel to arid northeast Kenya, to assess the situation in detail, and to determine what could be accomplished.

On the ground in Dadaab, it was clear from the United Nations (UN) and NGO community that bringing incremental, reliable and affordable Internet access would lead to better overall communications, coordination and security thereby increasing the staff capacity to deliver critical and life-sustaining food, housing, sanitation and medical care. Inveneo, working with Cisco’s TacOps could install and configure a local high-speed network, the Dadaab organizations could immediately begin to collaborate and share information more effectively. An existing UNHCR-led network initiative for smaller NGOs and community centers needed to be reviewed substantively to ensure that any new networking designs would be compatible, complimentary and synergistic.

NetHope, Inveneo and TacOps obtained commitments from Cisco to donate equipment, and from USAID and UNHCR to provide funding. It was determined that there were two major areas where Inveneo could bring technical and strategic expertise to make a real difference.

  1. First, we initiated and led a strategic business and engineering partnership with Orange, a local Kenyan mobile and landline telecommunications service provider, to extend new data services into the Dadaab compound using our long-distance WiFi solutions. NetHope aggregated the demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community, and we secured agreement from Orange to a preferred pricing arrangement as well as to adequate initial and ongoing capacity. Orange is making their highly reliable Internet connectivity available by providing backhaul from their existing Dadaab tower to international fiber networks. We designed a detailed, local distribution network and training plan to enable Orange and prequalified Dadaab IT staff to quickly grasp, support and connect to the Inveneo-designed access solutions.
  2. Second, Inveneo and TacOps would co-design a high-speed network to connect the Dadaab agencies locally and to enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency collaboration technologies like file sharing, video conferencing designed by Cisco and voice over IP telephony applications. This collaboration network, DadaabNET, would also provide a Cisco router-based failover configuration to switch agency traffic to a 4-Mbps, UNHCR-provided satellite system in the event of primary connection failure. This effort involved IP addressing and configuration support from both Cisco and Inveneo as well as consultative engineering support from UNHCR and the Dadaab Aid Agency IT staff.

Status and Results

Inveneo’s work was successfully completed in March 2012. During the week of March 12, we trained in-country technical teams from Orange, from the Dadaab-based NGO technical staff, and from our local Inveneo Certified ICT Partner Setright. Orange hosted the classroom training session in Nairobi that provided hands-on instruction on long distance WiFi. We offered our custom practical curriculum in both network design and installation. Then the training moved outside to physically install equipment on buildings and way up on an Orange telecommunications tower. Inveneo has a strong partnership with Petzl to share safe climbing at height techniques in developing countries with communications workers. The trainings were held in Nairobi because a risk assessment determined Dadaab too insecure at that time.

During the week of March 19, Inveneo, NetHope, Setright and Cisco’s local gold partner Dimension Data teams traveled to Dadaab. Monday and Tuesday, our team worked side-by-side with the newly trained NGO, Orange and Setright teams in Dadaab, giving them the guidance and confidence to successfully complete the Orange and UNHCR tower installations.

The Orange tower is the hub for the access network and the UNHCR tower is the hub for DadaabNET. Dimension Data was also busy meeting with IT staff at the installation sites: consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff and completing the initial router configurations.

As part of the training and skills building plan, we left Dadaab late Tuesday afternoon to cover training the Orange Network Operations Center in Nairobi. While away, the six newly trained agency staff were charged with the installation of Customer Premise Equipment for both the access and DadaabNET networks. The team includes staff from UNHCR, World Food Program, Norwegian Refugee Counsel, Care, Oxfam and Kenya Red Cross so it was truly an interagency support group. The expectation was that four or five sites could be installed, and then reviewed and verified after our return. On Thursday in Dadaab, we found our expectations were far exceeded.

The DadaabNET team installed 19 radios at ten agency locations. For two days, we verified the work and fine-tuned the implementations. Future installs and troubleshooting can now be completed by the local IT team with our team positioned to provide remote support for existing and ongoing humanitarian agency installations. The DadaabNET team has taken full ownership of the networks.

All future troubleshooting, support and installations will be managed frontline by the local DadaabNET interagency team. By the same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco TacOps successfully implemented and tested routing at all ten newly installed locations and ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNET team.

The initial bandwidth contracted was fully installed. Orange is on track to add triple the amount available to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.

This connectivity is already enabling the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate between agencies, and to support overall operations. They also have plans to move more costly VSAT systems to failover mode. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement and economic empowerment.

As a result of this project, Inveneo, Cisco, NetHope and Orange will also continue to grow their partnerships and collaborations so that there will be ever increasing opportunities to extend broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.

The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.

Community Knowledge Centers Connect Rural Communities

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 6, 2012 in the categories: News, Projects
Be Sociable, Share!

No matter where you live in the world, access to the Internet and the right training can give you the knowledge and skills you need to participate in the global economy. In Africa, Cisco, Inveneo and several nonprofit other partners are establishing Community Knowledge Centers to give people in once-isolated communities just those kinds of connections.

Congratulations to Cisco on its Award for Corporate Excellence

  1. Posted by Inveneo on March 31, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News
Be Sociable, Share!

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Cisco with the Secretary of State’s 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE). The ACE is given annually to U.S. businesses that exhibit good corporate citizenship, promote innovation and advance democratic principles around the world.

Cisco, the computer networking company, was chosen to receive this prestigious award for helping to connect the Israeli and Palestinian economies and people, and for engaging in several partnerships and initiatives to enhance technical capacity, connectivity, education and opportunities for women and youth in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Secretary Clinton invited Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers “to accept this ACE Award for your efforts to create jobs, improve lives, and lay the groundwork for lasting peace.”

In Washington, DC, Secretary Clinton presented the award to Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and in Jerusalem, linked via digital video conference with the Secretary’s event, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham, U.S. Consul General Daniel Rubinstein and Cisco Senior Manager Zika Abzuk, who leads the CSR efforts for Cisco, celebrated the award.

Congratulations to Cisco and Zika for their impressive results and the recognition it’s generating.

Hital Muraj, 2010 Global Ambassador of Youth Award Winner

  1. Posted by Inveneo on October 22, 2010 in the categories: Events, News
Be Sociable, Share!

Congratulations to Hital Muraj! Hital, Cisco’s Area Academy Manager for East Africa, recently received the Global Ambassador of Youth Award for her efforts on behalf of Kenyan youth at the New Look Foundation’s inaugural 2010 World Leadership Awards ceremony in Atlanta.

Famed singer Usher founded the New Look Foundation in 1999 to support young people in using their talents and creativity to be global, corporate and community leaders. Says the New Look Foundation about Hital:


Hital Muraj accepting her award

“Whether it is creating an information communications skills training centre or whether it’s personally investing her time and money to help an entrepreneur in Kibera open an Internet cafe, or help other young entrepreneurs in Kibera or other areas of her country, she has done it all. She does it with humility, kindness, warmth and grace.”

We at Inveneo could not agree more. Inveneo is very proud to work with such wonderful and committed partners as Cisco and Hital and we congratulate her on this extraordinary recognition. Of her many efforts, she says:

“My urge to help the youth is driven by the need to provide opportunity – an essential factor capable of bringing out an individual’s talent,” she says. “In my life and career, I have learnt the value of giving one a chance of doing something, opportunity has the potential of bringing out the hidden talent in someone.”

We thank Hital and Cisco for giving us the opportunity to help empower youth with access to information and communication technologies.