Grant: SF Emergency Wireless Mesh

Date of Grant: Nov. 6, 2020
Grant Amount: $100,000

San Francisco Wireless Emergency Mesh (SFWEM) is a volunteer-led project to install a resilient, high speed, wireless network throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay Area for use during disasters, emergencies, and large community events by responders, volunteers, and served agencies.

This SFWEM network is being built using inexpensive, commercial-grade WiFi equipment running open-source software. A key attribute of the system is the Amateur Radio community software named AREDN that has been actively developed over the last 15 years, then “operated” by ham radio operators, which becomes a strength by using wi-fi technology on frequencies which are reserved for ham radio use.

Execution Strategy

Geographical complexity requires this project to be developed in phases, with each phase encompassing a predefined region of the total project area.

  • Phase 1: Centralized Services + San Francisco Regional Deployment
  • Phase 2: East Bay / South Bay Regional Deployment
  • Phase 3: North Bay Regional Deployment

Within each phase/region, the project will establish services in a bottom-up way, starting first with essential network components and moving up toward dedicated services. This approach allows gradual expansion of the network and user base without overtaxing limited volunteer resources and a means of measuring adoption within each region.
For existing service areas, infrastructure will be updated for resilience and reliability, and users will have expanded training and engagement opportunities.

Finally, new rapid-deployment assets will be created for use during planned or emergent events requiring high-speed network capabilities.

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