Cradlepoint, the cloud-based wired and wireless broadband network solutions provider, has partnered with Irish voluntary organisation, Disaster Tech Lab, to deploy free emergency 3G and 4G LTE Wi-Fi in refugee camps across Greece.
The ruggedised technology is used currently in eighteen camps across the Greek islands and mainland. Cradlepoint’s technology is also being used to provide Internet access in mobile vehicles used by NGOs across Greece, including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
As new camps are set up, Cradlepoint technology is used to provide first response emergency connectivity. There are two levels of access provided. One secure password encrypted network for authorities including the United Nations, aid organisations and the Greek military. This helps these organisations to communicate and process asylum applications securely, which is essential given that biometric data is taken and processed for every refugee.
The second is an open Wi-Fi network for refugees who rely on smartphone technology to keep in touch with relatives and communicate with authorities. For example, on arrival in Greece, asylum seekers are required to make their initial application to the Greek authorities via a Skype call.
Providing the connectivity needed is a real challenge as many of the camps do not have electricity infrastructure for months after being set up. The power needed to enable free connectivity often comes from solar panels, batteries or wind turbines, rigged up by Disaster Tech Lab.
Disaster Tech Lab is using Cradlepoint's COR IBR1100 series to get the job done. This is a compact, ruggedised 3G/4G/LTE router that provides highly available, cloud-managed networking for extreme environments. It is designed for mission-critical connectivity in environments such as police cars, ambulances and marine fleets. The routers connect to the Greek mobile operators networks (Vodafone mostly) using over the counter mobile data packages.
The cloud-managed solution scales quickly and is engineered to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, shocks, vibrations, dust, water splash, reversed polarity and transient voltages. Cradlepoint’s Enterprise Cloud Management Portal allows Disaster Tech Lab to monitor and troubleshoot locally on the ground.
Evert Bopp, founder and CEO of Disaster Tech Lab, commented: “After a harrowing journey, refugees arrive in Greece usually in poor health and estranged from their loved ones. They often don’t even know which country they’ve arrived in and are then faced with navigating the appropriate authorities and their respective procedures to claim asylum.
“This is hard enough, but when you consider there’s no infrastructure to support them, it seems like an impossible task. In these camps there’s barely any sanitation, let alone electricity and Wi-Fi provision. Providing reliable and robust 3G and 4G LTE connectivity is often a lifeline, quite literally.
“Cradlepoint’s technology enables us to almost immediately set up a temporary Internet service while we work on building a more permanent network. Cradlepoint’s COR IBR1100 is so easy to use and durable. We can get connectivity available within a couple of hours of refugees arriving at a new location.”
Hubert Da Costa, Vice President of EMEA, at Cradlepoint, commented: “When I was contacted and told about the lack of Internet access in refugee camps I knew we had to help. We often provide connectivity in remote or extreme environments for customers. However, never before have we provided connectivity to a community who would rely on it for their basic existence. I’ve been humbled by the whole experience.”
For more on Disaster Tech Lab's work, see: Bringing rapid response Wi-Fi connectivity to disaster areas