Our first full day on the ground in Chuuk for the PISCES Project, Part II, and we hit the ground running! The technical team has a number of work-goals for this week, including:
1. Field site survey training and then heading out to 5 island sites to carry out the site surveys
2. Establishing a permanent point-to-point Internet connection from the main island (Weno) out to at least one island.
The next steps after this trip are to engineer the wireless network based on the collected survey data and return in 2-3 months to build it out. Both iSolutions (our local PISCES project partner in Chuuk) and Telecom FSM are participating in the week-long training workshop.
The technical team started off the week with a day-long hands-on training session in how to carry out two separate types of site surveys: the first at communications towers and the second at schools for eventually setting up a wireless internet connection and computer lab at these candidate schools. The morning mainly consisted of classroom-style instruction, while the afternoon saw the team carrying out site surveys in-the-field, including at Chuuk High School(below).
Inveneo’s Chief Technical Officer Andris Bjornson also launched Inveneo’s new Smartphone-based Android application for conducting site surveys on a mobile phone and the group of workshop participants from both iSolutions and Telcom FSM are the first ones worldwide to use this new tool. The beauty of this tool is that it integrates GPS, camera, and note-taking into one convenient hand-held device. Prior to this, one needed to bring on-site an individual compass, GPS unit, camera, and paper & pencil to perform the site survey. Google donated the Android phones, while Andris developed the application for these phones, using two open-source tools: Formhub and odkcollect. This is the first field-test with these new devices and we’re every excited to be a part of it!
I had a fantastic, hours-long conversation with Melody Alvarez, a Peace Corps Volunteer who is stationed at Romanum Island school in the Chuuk Lagoon. Across Micronesia (and perhaps across the North Pacific), all of the Peace Corps volunteers work in the schools, with a focus on improving the quality of education. They teach English language skills, but their responsibilities extend far beyond that. Melody had been working mainly with the 7th and 8th graders at her school, but soon will transition to working with the younger students—they need to be flexible in order to assist where their skills are most needed.
We positioned ourselves in the picture above so that Romanum Island is the one you see just over Melody’s shoulder, to the right, in the picture above. The team looks forward to carrying out the site surveys starting Monday, including visiting Melody’s school on Romanum Island as our first stop.