We spent yesterday in the Rockaways distributing and installing the emergency power kits donated by our customers. We pass on the hugs we received from people happy to call their mom or light their room onto you.

We’ll be back again on Tuesday to do more. Our own Buy One Give One program is sold out due to an incredible response, but if you want to donate we suggest Occupy Sandy’s Amazon registry. This gets the gear that is truly needed to the people who truly need it. Buy a pump and you’ll clear someone’s basement.

We had three modes of distributing our kits to try to make sure they a) got to the people who needed them most and b) were installed for maximum effectiveness. We could have easily dropped the kits off somewhere and they would be gone in ten minutes and likely not used to their best advantage.

Piggyback on Medical Walkthroughs
There are numerous hi-rise buildings all down the Rockaway Coast. Some are run by the city, other by private companies. On Saturday, we saw some with hallway lighting from generators and backup boiler systems that brought in some heat, but there were still a lot that were completely dark. In them, the elderly and sick are essentially trapped in their rooms and are dependent on others to bring them food, water (especially on higher floors) and medicine.

Occupy Sandy at 113th Street organized teams all day to go door to door and find out the health status of individuals inside their rooms and determine which medicines they needed. They would attempt to return later in the day with prescriptions filled. To complete this work, they would have to go up dark stairwells and hallways. We’re not sure why essentially startup organizations had to fill this void (Doctors Without Borders left earlier in the week, no sign of any government action), but we were really impressed with Occupy’s organizers efforts, adaptability and thoughtfulness.

List of Buildings to Target

Shayne trained these teams doing medical walk-throughs how to install the solar panel and how to work the light and phone charger. We then gave each team 3-4 kits to bring on their rounds.

Shayne explaining kit to Katie and Eric

Shayne Training one Team of (amazing) Volunteers

Door to Door Installs
In the neighborhood by Occupy’s 113th Street location, we went into a number of apartments and installed the panels facing South out the window. The system we devised was placing industrial double sided tape on the back of the panel and sticking the panel on the outside of the window. While not perfect, it was simple and quick. Placing the panel outside the window will probably generate 2-4 times as much power as if the panel was inside (the windows are often dirty, there are screens, line of site to sun issues). We got a lot of hugs as people were able to charge their phones and begin communicating again. Lights seemed like less of an issue as this group had access to flashlights.

Improvised Panel Mounting Mechanism - Simple & Fast

Panel Mounted and Phone Charging

Panel Mounted on Window Facing South

Street Meets
Although we preferred to install the systems ourselves, we met a number of very nice families on the streets that were heading home before nightfall. They often were out of candles and almost always out of cell phone power. We trained them on the lights and phone charging and and gave them the kits.

What’s Next
We plan to go out again on Tuesday to distribute and install the balance of the kits. The situation changes rapidly so we’ll be reaching out to all our contacts to determine where the need is greatest and head directly there.

Room for Improvement
Voltaic learned an incredible amount yesterday about what’s needed in emergency’s like this from both a product and process standpoint. In future posts, we’ll focus on how we can greatly improve product design to make the system simpler and easier to use.

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One Response

  1. LuQ

    Good work! Thanks for doing this. & I am looking forward to hearing about the design lessons.


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