Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 8.14.22 AM

Expatriate hacker Chris “Akiba” Wang of Tokyo recently participated in a cool opportunity to deploy a sensor network in Dharamsala, India.

I got an email from Marco at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. He’s part of UNESCO and we’re working together on a weather monitoring project. He was asking about the weather monitoring project schedule and also mentioned that he’ll be teaching a workshop in the Himalayas if I was interested to join.

The location was actually Dharamsala, a Tibetan refuge in India and also the location of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama also resides there.

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 8.39.13 AMThe project consisted of a weeklong workshop focused on sensor networks and a sensor network deployment. In these types of workshops, the organizers work with the locals to identify a problem in the area that can be tackled with sensor network technology. The workshop material is then structured in a way that culminates in the attendees applying the workshop material to try and solve that problem. It’s quite an effective way to teach actually and I’ll probably start doing the same for workshops that I teach locally in Japan. In this case, we were asked to measure water levels in river fed storage tanks in remote locations and have the data sent to a server on the internet.

Akiba ended up having to design a new 2.4 GHz wireless board called the Saboten (cactus in Japanese) to serve as the sensor nodes. Sounds fascinating!