My trip to Barcelona - what I learned, what next…

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I would like to start with a big thank you to the guys at Guifi.net and Routek for the hospitality and the time they spent with me over the last week in Barcelona. The week was a really great experience in which I got to learn lots of different techniques and concepts of mesh networking.

As well as this got to experience the culture of the city with some great people, while discussing the history of Guifi.net as well as how they managed to create the Guifi foundation to support the requirements of the Guifi users. And maybe most important of all got to see the hardware on location and see exactly how it works (see picture above). All of these tasks where aimed at the goal of creating a better idea of how the network in Gellideg will look and how it will be managed.. 

I was privileged enough to be invited to a weekly Guifi meeting where all of the users and experts come together to discuss any problems as well as future advancements. One of the advancement was an installation of a new node that was going to connect a remote area in the country side of Catalonia. Here at the meeting they where making arrangements for the installation depending on the weather as the node was to be situated on the top of one of Barcelona’s highest communication towers. It was clear here at the meeting the passion and sense of community that exists between the Guifi users. This is what is pushing them to constantly improve the network and advance its reach. If we could follow this community lead style here in Merthyr Tydfil then we would be off to a very great start as passion will definitely help this project succeed.

The base of the weekly teaching was at the University; here I met with the Guys from Routek where we followed a structured knowledge transfer plan. Starting with the theory behind open networks, moving on to the more practical side where we actually configured some of the equipment that is going to be installed in Gellideg. It was a great start to a process that is going to be pushed over the next few months, and we really made good progress.

As well as these daily sessions at the university we also would have nightly meetings where we would discuss the day’s activities, plan other activities and discuss the past projects that Guifi have participated in. This was an important part of the week as it was here that I got to see where and why Guifi succeeds and was able to really get a feel for how the community have come together to create something great that they are now making money out of as a result of an excellent attitude and good technical now how.

Now moving forward we must put together all of the experiences from Barcelona and come up with a plan to pass on the knowledge to the residents and in particular the Digital Champions. This will be done during the installation phases of the project where we will hold classes with the guys from Barcelona and the Digital Champions so that they can test the technology as well as learn to manage the network. This will eventually equip them with the skills required to manage and in the future expand the network.

Step 1. Co-designing a network for Gellideg

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Hello, my name is Nicholas Giles. I am leading the team of local residents, social enterprises and key public sector stakeholders who will be prototyping the design, installation and development of a community-led network for Merthyr Tydfil. 

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