We've arrived at the Astrodome, where we are determining the need for CUWireless/Part-15 technical assistance. Officials seem unsure of what is being done and what isn't, from an infrastructure standpoint, but Jake and Will (the other two members of our small Houston ground team) are talking to administrators now to try to get a bird's-eye-view of what has and hasn't been deployed—and what's needed.
We haven't gone into the Astrodome itself, and while I am certainly curious about conditions, etc., the need for establishing a plan for our efforts—whether to stay in Houston and help set up information kiosks, mainly—is outweighed by the need to travel elsewhere to more-affected areas.
There is still a slight chance that we might be needed to resupply the folks at DirectNIC, but as far as I'm concerned, with a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans by Mayor Nagin, we'll need to have some pretty official sanction before we attempt to enter the city. I have a selfish desire to see the city first-hand, but it would be ridiculous to deal with the gauntlet of security and supplies just to sight-see. With conditions as they are in a variety of small-town shelters throughout the region, it would be morally criminal.
So suffice it to say, we will be avoiding NOLA in our planning unless we are specifically requested to enter and provide our services.
More about our plans after the jump.
The people here at the Astrodome are trying to put their lives together. The predominate hurdle for many seems to be the lack of a State ID. Officials (state? local? federal?) are requiring refugees (or "residents") to travel into Houston proper to secure the IDs, a trip many find to be unnecessary and confusing. Since the Astrodome complex is secured at 11PM, it is possible a trip to get ID could result in a night on the street (although proper planning should make it possible to avoid this).
There's plenty of bandwidth and wi-fi in the area, so really the only thing we could do would be to set up a bunch of computers with a portal page so that residents could continue to post information to the (far, far too many) missing persons websites and get information about insurance, emergency wage reimbursement, etc. I am convinced this could be useful for some, but remain skeptical of its relative importance.
The volunteer groups setting up the low-power FM station got a grant yesterday. (Jacob wrote about this last night.)
More info soon. I've got to go to a press briefing.