Day 4: Our Final Day Establishing Wi-Fi-based Communications to Puerto Rico
BEI Travel Journal: Day 4 In Puerto Rico
Today was our last day working with the Staff of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust to help restore communications via Wi-Fi. We arrived in the morning to pack up and complete the final configuration and prep of the Extreme Networks equipment for further distribution to the University of Puerto Rico campuses. We look forward to seeing these Access Points come online over the next few weeks.
The team met with Lucy Crespo (CEO of the Trust). BEI President Kris Bruno and Lucy signed the official document completing the donation of the Extreme Networks equipment and BEI Networks services to the Trust and UPR campuses.
We received some very exciting news shortly after the signing: the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez staff was able to install an access point on Isla Maguelles, a research facility just south of Mayaguez where surrounding residents currently have no utilities or communications. The Wi-Fi access point will provide them connection and communications with the outside world. The BEI team made an attempt the day before to get to the island to install this access point but were unable to due to heavy rain and lack of power. Today the generator was up and running so the UPR Mayaguez staff was able to make it happen.
After all of the equipment was packed, we were able to attend an event put on by a division of the Trust called Parallel 18. They are a technology accelerator for Puerto Rico-based companies. They had an exciting announcement that they will now be a tech incubator as well helping the Mission of the Trust to make Puerto Rico a technology hub.
The goal of transforming Puerto Rico into a tech hub is more important than ever as they attract startups from all over the world to participate in this program.
After the event, the BEI team went to dinner in La Placita with David Gulley (Director of Technology Transfer Office), Carlos Baez-Pagan (Manager of Technology Transfer Office) and Javier Malave (Technology Specialist). La Placita is a well-known area in the Santurce district of San Juan. It was great to see this bubble of normalcy amid the disaster around them. We wanted to thank them for the hard work they put into making this happen.
When this effort started there was little to no communication capability on the island. Carlos had to physically drive to each campus to assess them and see if they had generator power and a working internet connection. David worked closely with the universities to handle the administrative side of the project. Javier’s first day working at the Trust was the first day on the project and was an asset helping us at the sites as he is alumni and employee of UPR and has many relationships there. He will remember his first week on the job for a long time. Without these efforts, we would not have been able to execute this and certainly not in the timeframe we did.
We count ourselves as truly very lucky to have met everyone on the trip, and to be part of such an amazing effort. There’s still much to do for Puerto Rico, but we were happy to have been able to do our part to bring communications back.