Community Organizations, Red Hook Non Profits

Increased WIFI access planned for Red Hook, by Nathan Weiser

Project Manager Dabriah Alston (Star-Revue file photo)

Interested businesses in Red Hook will soon have more WIFI connectivity as a result of a grant from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), given to Red Hook Initiative (RHI). RHI is now in the process of finding businesses that are interested in the Red Hook WIFI Project.

“We submitted a proposal about our WIFI program, and as a result, we were one of the winners of the competition,” said Dabriah Alston, who is the Red Hook WIFI Project Manager.

“It is open to the community and the businesses that want to partner with us,” Alston explained. “It is a process of figuring out who will want to partner with us and have access points and hot spots in their building,” she added.

There will be solar panel sites so that in case of an emergency, like a hurricane or a similar situation, the network will not fail.

The solar company that is set to partner with Red Hook WIFI is P4D Laboratory. They will install the equipment and build the solar backup system.

They will have some sites that will be called resilient gateways in the community. Those resilient gateways will have solar panels. “We need 15 businesses for that, evenly distributed throughout the community,” Alston said. Those sites will be the hub of our mesh network.”

Up to 40 new hot spots
In addition to the resilient gateways, they will be setting up regular access points or hot spots throughout Red Hook. There can be up to 40 of the hot spots. According to Alston, the project could end up partnering with more than 60 businesses based on the amount of hot spots and resilient gateways.

Alston likes that this project will be resilient and thinks that it will help the community. This network will allow the businesses in Red Hook to potentially bring in more revenue.

“Statistically it’s proven that stores and businesses that have WIFI increase sales because people kind of hang out a little longer,” Alston said. “They come and are like ‘oh there is WIFI here’. The more time they spend there, the greater chance there is for them to spend money. That is always helpful.”

Red Hook Initiative will be working with the South Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation to develop tools for the businesses and various ways that they can support and help.

The project will additionally create pathways to possible careers for Red Hook’s young adults. The Digital Stewards at RHI will be trained to offer technical support in the community.

“If a business owner has any issues with their hotspot, it will be the Digital Stewards who respond,” said Alston.

“We are looking to start the building of the network in the summer of 2017 and are shooting to have it up and running by fall of 2017,” according to Alston.
Sky Packet, a Maryland based internet company, will be setting up the network. According to their website, they “believe in giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we work with local charities to help them raise funds.”
Sky Packet has operated public networks in Bryant Park, Harlem, Chelsea and Downtown Brooklyn.

Additionally, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) for this project is Red Hook’s own Brooklyn Fiber. It was one of the few ISPs that did not go down during Hurricane Sandy.

If you have follow up questions or want to sign up for Red Hook WIFI email redhookwifi@rhicenter.org

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