If you hang around Emergency Management personnel long enough, you get a sense of unique geography, backroads, vantage points, and the best hole-in-the wall burrito joints.
The other day Banyan Networks was onsite with the Hawai‘i County Radio Systems Manager and Motorola reps as we kicked off the island-wide microwave radio system upgrade. Two sites were inspected for the viability of equipment installation, the structural integrity of both the communications shelters as well as the radio towers and surrounding critical areas. The weather was perfect; blue skies, sunshine, white fluffy fleeting clouds, and of course the wind whipping you at 50mph gusts which is very typical at the southernmost parts of the Island of Hawai‘i.
The first site was sequestered high up in a private subdivision flanking Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna-loa. Mist shrouds the site which features a brand new communications tower and shelter. A sense of isolation defines the dramatic landscape with steep changes in elevation and rolling topography over a relatively recent lava flow. Thick forests of 10-30 feet native Ohia can be found in the northern/mauka parts of the subdivision, while dry, hot, desolate lava fields with sparse shrubs are typical at the southern/makai sections.
The second site was further south, accessible only through fields of horses, cattle, and the occasional sheep and goats. A family of wild pigs greeted us when we arrived at our destination. We may have been inadequate without cowboy hats and boots. This site has clearly weathered decades of sun, wind, salt water, vog and the acrid conditions that many network managers must mitigate to protect communications systems.
Our adventure concluded with giant burritos and lilikoi lemonade on an outdoor picnic bench. Life’s sweetest moments can be experienced in the flow of gaining new perspectives down backroads, learning the lay-of-the-land, maintaining critical network infrastructure, and helping to maintain and improve public safety communications for the County of Hawai‘i.