In our current digital era, communication is largely done through social media, cellphone connection and WiFi. However, during an emergency, most communication networks are often disrupted. This sudden disconnect as disaster strikes results in feelings of isolation and endangerment for communities across the island, mostly in remote areas and flood-prone neighborhoods. Furthermore, lack of communication hinders critical disaster relief aid from reaching affected areas during and after the disaster. Having the necessary tools to communicate effectively during these times will help save lives.
As part of our compromise to promote resilience through our Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative (Bottom Up), more than 100 nonprofit organizations and municipal agencies now have access to telecommunications equipment after a donation of more than $200,000.
“The donated devices, whose GoTenna technology is known as ‘mesh network’ or mobile mesh networks, allow communications even when cellular, Wi-Fi and satellite signals are not available. It is a technology that increases the ability to create connectivity anywhere on the island. The equipment works by communicating with each other, this allows all recipients of this technology to establish direct communication in case of any emergency,” detailed Carlos Ayala, program manager for the Bottom Up.
The beneficiary organizations were selected through a research process of the different public entities and active non-profit organizations in Aguadilla, Arecibo, Barceloneta, Cabo Rojo, Camuy, Ceiba, Fajardo, Humacao, Isabela, Luquillo, Manatí, Naguabo, Orocovis and San Germán. The selection process considered their physical infrastructure, financial and operational capacity, their direct and indirect community impact, links and collaborative projects with other organizations, their facilities’ potential use as shelters or collection centers, among other elements.
“Our program seeks to strengthen communities to stimulate their recovery and assist them with the necessary infrastructure for their development. We are very proud to see the fruit of many months of work materialize with the delivery of this equipment,” said Ayala.
The beneficiaries of this telecommunication equipment donation include APRODEC Inc., Casa de Adoración Restaurados por su Misericordia, Centro Comunal de Playa Húcares, Centro Comunal Río Chiquito, Centro Cristiano Ciudad de Refugio La Mina, Inc., Centro Cultural Multidisciplinario de Juan Martín, Centro de Ayuda Social Luz del Mundo, Comité Desarrollo Social y Cultural Daguao, Comité Pro Desarrollo del Barrio Cubuy de Naguabo, Comunidad Rancho Grande, ECOSOL Inc., Emergency Relief Alliance Corp., Jardín de Envejecientes Pablo Suárez, Ministerio Impartiendo Amor a Mi Prójimo Inc., Proyecto Educativo Pasitos del Saber, Proyecto Impacto Comunitario, Tenedor Social, Unión y Acción por Villa Angelina, the Municipal Emergency Management Offices for Ceiba, Fajardo and Luquillo, Luquillo and Fajardo’s fire stations and municipal police offices, among others.
Now, communities across these 14 municipalities will be prepared for future atmospheric event, such as Hurricane María, and avoid limits in their communication capacity and, consequently, their emergency response, through resilient centers and organizations.
The Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative is made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.