July 1, 2005

HPWREN's continued collaboration with Native Americans results in various opportunities across research, education, and first responder activities

The collaboration between HPWREN and Native Americans in San Diego County has come a long way since HPWREN initially connected three tribes almost five years ago, while including significant technology and expertise transfer. A followon project, the Tribal Digital Village Network (TDVnet), allocated direct resources to the tribes to extend information infrastructure to connect all tribes in San Diego County, which also eventually absorbed the original HPWREN investment, creating an autonomous and self-sustaining environment - designed, architected, implemented, and operated by Native Americans. TDVnet staff now install their own towers, extensively use solar power, and program radios, routers, and other equipment that is part of their network.

The recent NSF ITR award for HPWREN includes a component for a renewed distance education activity between Native Americans and HPWREN. TDVnet offered its solar-powered Mesa Grande 80-foot tower site as a relay site for this. An enhanced collaboration across HPWREN, TDVnet and the San Diego State University Field Station Programs (SDSU FSP) was created by a desire to connect the 1600 acre Sky Oaks Field Station, part of the SDSU Field Station Programs, Additionally, this activity is providing a permanent connection capability to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's (CDF) designated Incident Command Post (ICP) site at Puerta La Cruz.

Mt. Woodson
At the Mount Woodson site, the four foot antenna was mounted to a tower, and an outdoor radio is connected via power-over-ethernet to the HPWREN backbone router. The antenna points to the TDVnet tower at the Mesa Grande site, about 17 miles to the northeast.

Jim Hale is sealing the connectors at the Mesa Grande site, with Michael Peralta (TDVnet) completing additional preparations prior to lifting the antenna up the tower. Mesa Grande

Mesa Grande
The antenna is being lifted by Jim Hale's truck, with Bud Hale and Ron Serabia waiting for it on the tower, and Michael Peralta and Pablo Bryant holding the antenna in place during its ascent.

Mesa Grande
Left: Pablo Bryant is finishing the antenna that will connect the relay site to Sky Oaks.

Right: Hans-Werner Braun, Michael Peralta, and Pablo Bryant at the tower site.

Mesa Grande

"It makes me really proud of all that has been accomplished, and that we have come full circle in that we can in return help the people who enabled us to help ourselves," explains Michael Peralta, who is with the the Rincon Reservation, and network administrator and chief architect of TDVnet. "We could not have accomplished what we have without Hans-Werner and the rest of the HPWREN staff."

After Pablo Bryant installed the radio and antenna at the Sky Oaks Field Station, about 15 miles to the northeast of the Mesa Grande site, the connection is now able to support research projects affiliated with the San Diego State University Field Station Programs. Sky Oaks

Pablo Bryant, research technology manager with the SDSU FSP, describes "the second we had a connection between HPWREN at Mesa Grande and Sky Oaks I felt proud that we were able to finish a task that we started several years ago, allowing real-time high speed access to important data sets - in a location that had been very difficult to reach."

Puerta La Cruz
A test run at the Puerta La Cruz deployment site for CDF Incident Command Posts, about 10 miles northeast of the Mesa Grande site, verified that the capability for network connectivity is ready for operational use during a fire.

"Each summer my duties as a Public Information Officer for CDF Fire take me all over the State of California," says Matt Streck. "I am always proud to return home to see how cutting edge our San Diego Unit of CDF has become, by being involved in this great partnership with UCSD. My hope is that someday in the future this network will be available to all emergency responders statewide."

Ron Serabia, retired CDF Captain and now working with UCSD, adds "the collaborations between HPWREN, SDSU, and TDVnet enable first responders to have access and high speed connectivity via the network. This type of connectivity allows Incident Command Teams operating from such remote ICPs as Puerta la Cruz access to expedite information transfers during emergency operational incidents. I believe that this wireless link is one of many starting points we are collectively working on, and that it may show that future applications are possible using new technologies in wireless networks, not just in CDF-ICP operations, but multiple uses for all first responders."

Remaining work includes interconnecting with the TDVnet network itself, and restarting the distance education activities with Native American learning centers.

It is perhaps interesting to note that after years of collaborations as colleagues and friends, the partners in this endeavour interact as complete peers, including on the level of information technologies and cyberinfrastructure, benefiting from each other.

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