Connecting continents with wireless networking
June 2004: To bring together as many different actors as possible with many different views from both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar. The primary goal was to promote an open discussion around the issues surrounding the movement of people across the border between Africa and Europe.
The primary site for the event on the Spanish side took place over 3 days within the historic walled city of Tarifa in the medieval castle of Guzman 'El Bueno'. A number of locations needed internet connections to allow forums and discussions between parties to take place. These discussion could not otherwise have taken place due to immigration restrictions and a lack of existing infrastructure for live video and audio conferences on both sides of the Straits.
In Spain we worked with the local provincial government, Junta de Andalusia, along with local police, immigration officials, charities, religious organisations and local townspeople. On the Moroccan side, we liaised with the University of Tangiers and government to arrange permission for the link to take place.
We provided one of our mobile satellite units to facilitate a two-way broadband link to the internet. Various rooms in the castle were connected using a selection of customised equipment to allow video forums.
Two point-to-point wireless links were also deployed to link the castle to the beach at Tarifa and the other, a 32km link using parabolic antennae, to connect Tarifa to the University of Tangiers in Morocco.
If 41°C on the Spanish castle roof didn't make things hard enough, the protected nature of the castle insisted on no fixings to the building whatsoever. Not even gaffer tape...
Attendees of the conference in Tarifa and those at the university of Tangiers were able to take part in live video forums during the event. Live audio and video content of the event was streamed to the Internet in various formats.
During the event, the story of successfully linking Africa and Europe with the early 802.11b WiFi technology broke on Slashdot, very nearly bringing down one of the servers involved. Our work in the project was documented in the 2005 film En busca de hackers.
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