We’re working with the South End Technology Center to operate a Roofnet in the Tent City housing complex located in the South End of Boston. Tent City consists of 220 residential units spread across many four story buildings and a 12-story high-rise. The Roofnet there consists of 30 nodes spread throughout the residences, many mounted in windows where they can see other nodes across courtyards. Residents use Roofnet via Ethernet cable to a local node or via 802.11 to a Roofnet node mimicing an access point. The network uses the inexpensive wgt634u as the Roofnet hardware.
We’ve run two tests so far to determine how many Roofnet nodes are needed to cover most of Tent City. The minitest on March 17 with 6 nodes suggested roughly 40 or 50, which was confirmed by the larger April2 test. We actually deployed 43 nodes on April 2nd and collected throughput estimates and constructed the link graph.
The Tent City Housing originated over twenty-five years ago when a misguided redevelopment programme cleared the site of existing low-income housing to make way for large scale commercial development. At one point, much of the 3.3 acre site was scheduled for a seven storey car park. Residents in the neighbourhood protested against the demolition and demanded replacement of affordable neighbourhood housing. The name Tent City recalls that protest and the community’s eventual success in achieving its goals. In the mid 1980s with the help of the newly elected mayor the city’s urban renewal authority negotiated an agreement whereby affordable replacement housing could be built on the site.
The twelve storey section of the complex contains 176 one and two bedroom flats and 6,500 ft2 of ground level retail space. The remaining part of the complex consists of four storey townhouses which contain 93 three and four-bedroom duplex apartments and one retail space. The density is 84 units per acre but the excellent design manages to retain a sense of space. Construction is in red brick with contrasting coloured brick trim. Bay windows, mansard roofs and front stoops typical of the neighbourhood characterise the project. Dwellings are arranged around an interior loop road and courtyard containing landscaped open space, play areas and parking. The housing, shops and interior landscaped courtyards are built upon an underground garage for 698 cars.
Some 25 per cent of the 269 resident households are low income i.e. their incomes are 50 per cent or less of the city’s median household income. 50 per cent of the units are set aside for moderate income households i.e. where incomes are 50 - 120 per cent of the city median. Within this 50 per cent category, four layers of income ranges must be represented. It has been found that such mixed income developments work better where there is a continuum of incomes, rather than just two disparate groups. The remaining 25 per cent are market rate rents. There is no differentiation between the units according to rent paid.
The ethnic mix reflects that of the local area. Priority for the subsidised units is given, in order, to people displaced by public action, South End residents and people living in sub-standard housing. Market rents are currently $1,600 per month and 54 of the 77 market rent units are occupied by students (normally two or three per unit). The students integrate well into the project and special care is taken to ensure relative peace and quiet during examination periods. Gentrification is not a problem since the market rent flats are not being invaded by wealthy professionals. Virtually all of the low income households are headed by single parents. After school programs have been established and are increasingly used by mothers, thus enabling them to work and keep off welfare support. Great care is taken in the selection of new residents to ensure credit worthiness i.e., no previous convictions for bad debt, crime etc.
Photos copyright Steve Rosenthal and Alex MacLean. Taken from http://www.gcassoc.com/html/proj_descr.asp?pageid=1164.
From Chris Cole:
There’s a community technology center in the basement of building 11. Currently, there’s a cable connection 3 megs downstream/512K up coming into the basement there. We use a pair of Corinex bridges to take the traffic between the basement server room and the roof of 11 over the electrical system. Using Cisco access points there’s a Yagi aiming at bldgs 4-7 and, another on top of 9 facing 12, and another on 8 facing between 15 and 14. All those are connected by Ethernet to the Corinex bridge on 11 with a cheap Hawking switch intervening; the longest run over to building 8 being right close to 100 meters.
There’s a standalone repeater on the far right corner of 13 with an 8 dbi omni, a couple of additional Cisco 1100 series access points acting as standalone repeaters are in interior facing apartments in 10 and 8.
In buildings 2-8 and maybe 9 there’s one set of units facing inside the complex and another facing outside the complex with a hall in between. There’s good coverage on the inside but little if anything on the outside units. Those would be especially prime first candidates for the mesh.
There’s also a neighboring development that you see extending off on the bottom left hand corner that would like to be involved if possible last I heard.