San José ARES/RACES/ACS

In volunteer support of the citizens of San José, California

WEN

About WEN

WEN is the Wireless Emergency Network, a project of San Jose ARES/RACES/ACS. We are building a long-distance WiFi network that consists of pre-installed infrastructure (a backbone) that makes room for a significant number of ‘portable nodes’. These portable nodes are a box with all the gear needed to connect any ad hoc location into the WEN. Our goal is to provide high-speed data networking to any location in or around the City of San Jose. The network services include: VoIP phones, a networked camera (optional), a networked printer, access to a digital map server, Internet access (if available), a local WiFi hotspot for smart-phones and laptops, and many more.

A very close second goal is to interlink all the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) from local cities (San Jose, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Cupertino, etc), Santa Clara County EOC, Special Districts EOCs (VTA, SCVWD, Santa Clara County Health Department, Moffett EOC, etc), Hospitals, Utilities (San Jose Water Co, PG&E, AT&T, etc), Red Cross, NGO’s, and even major employers.

Some Details

Here is an interactive physical map of the current WEN (it is not real-time):

Legend:

  1. Blue lines are not yet installed links. We think they are quite feasible.
  2. Yellow lines are links that are installed at only one end.
  3. Green lines are links that are up and fully functional.
  4. Blue dots are the sites we want to connect to.

You can click on a blue dot to see what that site is.

The WEN is built out of FCC Part 15 gear and standards. The gear we use could be brought into Part 97 standards, which would allow significantly higher power levels (and expense), but we would then be required to uphold all of Part 97, which would include no encryption or authentication. Exceptions are made for Part 97 WiFi networks where the encryption key is published, but this leaves the network open to someone injecting malicious messages and data. This is unacceptable. Thus we will stay as a Part 15, fully encrypted network that relies on finesse rather than brute force for it’s links.

We use tried-and-true Internet technology with all it’s reliability and adaptability to provide the best communications at a very inexpensive price. We have redundant and distributed access points into ISPs around the valley. We use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to quickly route around any failed links. We try to have three links to every permanent site to increase redundancy and reliability.

We welcome everyone who wants to help build the equivalent of a modern WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) to provide Emergency Communications for our community. Join up and help us build. San Jose is, after all, the Capitol of Silicon Valley. And we are bonafide nerds. 😉

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