Bay Area Mesh:About

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The San Francisco Wireless Emergency Mesh (SFWEM) is a volunteer-led project to install a resilient, high-speed wireless network throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay Area for use during disasters, emergencies, and large community events by responders, volunteers, and served agencies. SFWEM is open to San Francisco Bay Area licensed amateur radio operators interested in emergency communications, and supporting its mission.

Where we started

The San Francisco Wireless Emergency Mesh was inspired by earlier experiments with AREDN mesh networks in the East Bay, with work starting in 2016.

The need for a mesh network was later cemented by the communication challenges of the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons, and the massive Public Safety Power Shutoff events that followed. Existing communication networks were overloaded or entirely knocked offline – often for weeks – isolating communities, hampering incident response, and delaying recovery.

Where we're going

With the joined efforts of hundreds of volunteers, development and deployment of the mesh and its services has moved at a rapid pace. To help those efforts, project co-founders (Greg Albrecht, W2GMD; Isaac Bentley, N6BF; and Kiley Davidson, KD8DRX) incorporated San Francisco Wireless Emergency Mesh, Inc. as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2020.

This move enables furthering the project's mission to serve as a force multiplier for education, research, and disaster response using digital communications capabilities. Given its tax-deductible status, it will also allow for future charitable contributions to assist in our continued expansion.

Our goals

  • Education, Research & Mentorship of the Amateur Radio Community on digital network technologies.
  • Rapid ad-hoc communication deployments during disasters and emergencies.
  • Reliable, fault-tolerant networks that served agencies can protect San Francisco residents and save lives during disaster situations.