March 2019 update

This year we’ve been extremely busy with many exciting new projects. We have our second collaboration with the city- an install at Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer’s office at 1 Centre St. This install, designed by Olivier, is actually faster than their current connection and is receiving a lot of use in the office and at our demonstration booth. This weekend we are upgrading it to a gigabit point-to-point connection to Supernode 1.

Jillian and Shea helped organize a meeting with Brooklyn Public Library which went very well. We look forward to working with the library system to help extend some of their existing networks, such as one in Brownsville, and creating new connections for other underserved areas.

We have been in talks with many people from the city and Scott has been doing an amazing amount of work here. Hopefully, we’ll get to extend our current work with NYC Housing Authority to more boroughs, and find other productive ways to work with the city.

Three affordable housing management groups have approached us about connecting their buildings. This is a perfect match for us as we will be able connect the unconnected and expand our network further. Our first install with one of these groups was completed two weeks ago at the RiseBoro Youth Center. We have many more buildings planned throughout Brooklyn.

Our install teams have been doing a great job. We now have about 10 install leaders so we can easily do two or more installs at the same time. We’ve had 14 installs and 84 requests in the past 4 weeks, which works out to 3.5 installs a week. Not bad for this weather.

Our new hub node strategy has been a success downtown. These “hub” nodes are rooftops with a good view of the neighborhood and a fast connection to another node. Most of our new rooftop installs are connecting to these hubs rather than directly to supernodes. The hubs also have OmniTik access points so you are very likely to see -NYC Mesh Community WiFi- on your phone when you are anywhere downtown. These OmniTiks are also running mesh software configured by Zach, and work as a backup connection by meshing with each other. The network architecture has many layers now and will be the subject of another blog post.

We still need some neighborhood coordinators to help expand. Please volunteer to help us if you can. Greenpoint, for example, has many great rooftops just waiting to be connected. We also plan to do some installs in the Bronx soon to extend the reach of our hub there.

With our larger installs we need to learn new skills such as “core drilling” through concrete floors to run conduit in buildings. Jason has taken on this task and will be doing some serious drilling at Supernode 3. Let us know if you would like to be part of our “core drilling” team.

As the network has been around for over four years, support is becoming a major issue. Thankfully the Ubiquiti gear rarely fails. Support has mostly been fixing things after people accidentally bump antennas or tread on cable, or the wind moving the antenna out of alignment. Support is really important and often not difficult. What we need is people in each neighborhood that can help with this. Let us know if you want to volunteer for support.

Saratoga has had serious issues with bandwidth since Supernode 2 came down. This has caused bandwidth issues throughout Brooklyn, especially during the “Netflix hour” in the evening. We do have a solution at a neighboring building but we are waiting for roof access. Increasing bandwidth in Brooklyn is a very high priority. We are also adding alerts for when nodes go down so we can fix networking issues before they are reported.

Supernode 3 is taking much longer than expected. We have run half a mile of cable (800m) and we’re ready to install the antenna mounts this coming week. This install is a huge job and we’re about one third of the way there. Once it is running we’ll be looking for good rooftops to act as hubs in South Slope and Sunset Park

We have been using LinkNYC kiosks to bootstrap areas and connect people that are out of range of our antennas. This has been working well over the past year or two. A few of these installs are within range our our new hubs and we have been able to switch them over. Unfortunately LinkNYC have changed some of their network settings this year and our repeaters are no longer reliable in some areas. We are halting kiosk installs for now until we can get reliable connections again.

Jesse was one of the main people behind our Brooklyn expansion a couple of years ago. He did amazing work in setting up Supernode 2 and Saratoga, and he worked on many installs in the area. Jesse helped with the general network configuration we are using and fixed some major problems. He is taking a break from the mesh and will be missed!