Community Network Access Expansion

Submitted by Air Stream Committee File

Background:
Air-Stream is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2002 that has built one of the largest entirely community owned and operated communications networks in the world.

We strive to help community members and organisations get connected with each other, the Internet, and unique local resources in an affordable way with almost ZERO ONGOING COST.

A Community Wireless Network (CWN) is a collection of smaller interconnected networks that span a geographical region such as a city or neighbourhood. The primary means of connectivity between ‘nodes’ in the network is via wireless LAN radio, these days better known as ‘WiFi’.

Whilst technically similar to the internet, a CWN operates independently of the internet and provides its own critical infrastructure services such as HTTP and DNS. Through the use of specialised routing software, the network is made resilient to failures and multiple backup paths can be created between each node.

The Air-Stream network is comprised of hundreds of nodes (interconnected sites) supplied, configured, and maintained by members of the community, who decide how the network should operate and where resources should be focused. This allows us to find new and creative ways to make low-cost communications systems that have long-term benefits for everyone.

Air-Stream holds a number of in-person events throughout the year, from information sessions, to training, and fundraisers. We also collaborate with amateur (ham) radio clubs and technology groups from around Australia.

While our organisation is funded, governed and maintained by paid membership, access to our network is freely available to all members of the community.

The Proposal:
The many benefits of access to our technology are currently not available to members of the Port Adelaide community and its surrounds. Due to the nature of our technology, the topography of the region has limited network expansion. However, this would be easily overcome with access to a few strategic sites in the area.

We propose to establish 5-10 new network nodes in the Port Adelaide and surrounding regions.

Problem you're solving

Air-Stream’s infrastructure creates a secure network that operates independently of the Internet.

This allows individuals and organisations to:
Create free and secure communication between remote locations.
Provide wireless hotspots for events held in the Port Adelaide regions.
Perform free off-site data backup.
Share IT resources between operational units.
Perform real time monitoring and control of remote systems (e.g. computers, cameras, lights, temperature, pumps, tank levels).
Operate continuously in the event of Internet outage.
Access unique content created by other members of the community.

Whilst Air-Stream does not provide Internet access, it does allow for:
Reduced cost through sharing of an existing internet service.
Provision of Internet services at locations where other technologies are not viable.

A number of common network services such as web and voice over IP are already provided at various points within the Air-Stream network. However, the open nature of our network and organisation we encourage members of the community to contribute their own unique services and content that are often tailored to meet a specific need.

Some examples of how other local organisations have used the Air-Stream network:
Community Radio Stations (used as alternative or backup comms with broadcast studio).
Lutheran Community Care (resource sharing and secure inter-office comms).
SA Group Enterprises (resource sharing and secure inter-office comms, voice over IP).
Carrick Hill (public access to informational website).
Surf Life Saving SA (consultation and planning on resource sharing network).
Elizabeth Amateur Radio Club (remote control of transmission equipment).
Science Alive at Wayville Showgrounds (remote control of transmission equipment for amateur radio demonstration).

Examples of other key applications:
Free access to essential services for the disadvantaged (unemployed, welfare, etc).
Free access to local specific content such as libraries, community centres, council etc.
Specialised tourism information.

Your solution

A selection process will take place, through consultation with council and local businesses in order to determine the most appropriate placement of the proposed new network nodes.

Once this has been established and physical access to the required installation points have been approved, our Network Team would proceed with planning, procurement and installation of equipment.

This would follow our standard established project planning procedures. This involves a peer review process, costing of equipment and materials and full documentation. Engineering analysis and drawings will also be provided where necessary.

Only qualified personnel will be allowed to access the physical locations identified for installation.

Our organisation currently holds public liability insurance cover $20m.

Based on the many previous installations of this type that have been self-funded, we can confidently estimate the all inclusive cost of each installation (new node) at approximately $2000.

Power supply to operate the equipment at each location is negligible and would be assumed by the entity hosting the site. Air-Stream has a standard Host Site Agreement which would be utilised to establish this understanding with the owner/tenant.

All other costs, manpower, tools, etc are provided by volunteer members.

Ongoing maintenance will be undertaken by the Air-Stream Network Team as part of their commitment to maintaining the current network. This would include the replacement of damaged equipment and any other upkeep.

Estimated funding required

$15,000-$20,000

Comments

Comments closed

Nathan Cooke

22 May 2015

Thankyou all for your vote's, if anyone would like to know more about Air-Stream; feel free to email me on firefox@air-stream.org for any questions you might have or would like to become a member.

Sam Hodge

17 May 2015

Sounds good to me

Kieran O'Rourke

17 May 2015

There is a great potential to offer internet via this to Black spots if the govt injected more money into it.

Steven Woods

17 May 2015

With all the surveillance and data retention stuff going on I hope I can get this in my area so I am not monitored just to communicate with my friends and family.

Dan Smith > Steven Woods

17 May 2015

Wow didnt think of that

Dan Smith

17 May 2015

Now this is something different that is looking towards the future.

Shawn Zeppel

06 May 2015

An amazing network with an awesome purpose. More councils should fund this sort of innovation!

Dan Smith > Shawn Zeppel

17 May 2015

This is an excelent idea.