##Four Day Network Building Workshop

This four day workshop focuses on building out a small network through community planning and training process. A good portion of two days is reserved for network installations. Depending on the location and complexity of the installation, a group could complete 6-10 rooftops installations over those two days. We have done a similar workshop over two weekends.

How to use this? This is meant to be an example workshop agenda that can be adapted for everyone to use, and adjusted based on group size, goals, etc. There are thousands of ways to design a workshop – this is just one example.


  1. Make sure there will be a good mix of people – equal numbers of men and women – and people with a wide range of skills. You can use identify neighborhood skills to figure out who you need.
  2. Read the facilitation guide. [1 to 2 hours]
  3. Discuss workshop agenda and network plan. [1 to 2 hours]
  4. Ensure the workshop location is setup with all the materials. [1 hour]
  5. As time allows, practice basic install and configuration of routers. [1 hour]

##First Day

Schedule: 09:00 to 17:00
Lunch: 12:30 to 1:15

After the introduction, participants should break up into three groups (if there are enough participants, and facilitators comfortable with the materials). Participants will “rotate” through the activities, completing all three over the course of 3 to 4 hours. A 5 to 10 minute break in between each activity is recommended.

Opening Activities [1 hour]:

  1. Introductions. Participants can go around the room and say who they are and one reason they want to help build a community network? [15 minutes]
  2. Digital Justice Principles. Participants should go around and read the principles one by one, and then discuss. [45 minutes]

Activity A: Participatory Network Planning - Every Network Tells a Story (ENTAS) [1 hour]

Use the Every Network Tells a Story activity to plan the network together. Participants will divide into groups of 5 or 6 to map the community and design the network.


  • Copies of Every Network Tells a Story
  • Printed and cut-up icons, pens, markers, paper, glue
  • If real routers are available, introduce and compare to icons.

Activity B: Working with mesh router software [1 hour]

In pairs, participants should install and configure Commotion using pre-determined configuration settings. Then participants should verify that all of the routers mesh together. Participants should understand what each of the settings means.


  • Installation Instructions for the router image
  • Diagram of Commotion’s virtual interfaces, and connections
  • Several routers ready to be installed and configured
  • Configuration settings written on a piece of paper

Activity C: Site Assessment and Planning [1 hour]

Participants learn the basics of site assessment and planning. (NEEDS WORK)


  • Common Setups
  • Inventory your Neighborhood
  • Site Worksheet

Additional Activities

Activity: Experiment with the configured routers.

  1. Setup the equipment inside a building, or if you have battery packs, take equipment outside and build a Pop-up Network.
  2. Use the network statistics on the router interface to test the distance at which the devices can connect and form a solid network. If there is one node connected to a server or the Internet, the performance of the network in various states can also be tested.
  3. Participants should discuss Signal Strength and ETX values.


  • Portable battery packs, and power adapters
  • Pre-configured routers
  • Smart phones or tablets to browse the Administration interface

Ending the Day

With everyone gathered together, give each participant a notecard or sticky-note. Ask each participant to write one thing they will share with others when they leave (3 min). Go around the room and let everyone read what they wrote.

Second Day

Schedule: 09:00 to 17:00
Lunch: 12:30 to 1:15

In the morning, participants will learn more about network planning, discuss the site installations for the day, and learn to build ethernet cables. The first installations should be completed by the whole group, so that everyone can learn together.

Warm-up activity: Wireless Challenges [1 hour]

Break up into small groups. Each group should complete the Wireless Challenges worksheets.


Activity 1: Discuss Site Installations [45 minutes]

Participants map actual sites for installations in the coming days, and discuss possible challenges or drawbacks to each site.


  • Map(s) of the area to be networked
  • Pens or markers

Activty 2: Building Ethernet Cables [45 minutes]

Building ethernet cables is an essential skill for outdoor router installations. Someone experienced will need to lead this activity. Participants work in pairs to prep and crimp RJ45 ends on Ethernet cables. Short (1 to 3 meter) cables can be made for “jumpers” that can be used indoors.


  • Bulk Ethernet cable - typically a box or spool
  • RJ45 cable ends
  • Ethernet crimpers and cable strippers / wire cutters
  • Diagram of the wiring colors.

Activity 3: Site Installations [2 hours+]

Participants will complete a rooftop installation together and then break into smaller groups to do many installations at the same time. This may take several hours, depending on how easy the site is to access, safety considerations, and any challenges that come up.


  • Pre-installed and configured Commotion router, and it’s power supply
  • A mounting kit or mounting hardware
  • Necessary tools for the type of rooftop installation
  • A pre-made outdoor Ethernet cable, or the necessary parts
  • A camera to document the installation

Close out: to close out the day, go over what can be done the next day.

Optional Homework

If there is a gap in the workshop days, participants can do homework activities:

  1. Inventory the Neighborhood
  2. Identify Neighborhood Skills

In addition, the network organizers can reach out to possible installation sites during this time and arrange for groups to stop by for installations in the coming days.

##Third Day

Schedule: 09:00 to 17:00
Lunch: 12:30 to 1:15

The third day is devoted to rooftop installations and local server setup. After reviewing the plan for the day, most people will go out to do rooftop installations, while 2-4 people should stay behind and work on the local server. The local server setup will require a few people that have linux experience. Rooftop installations can be done in small groups. The most experienced people may need to go between each of the groups to help troubleshoot.

Activity 1: Day Planning [45 min]

  1. Review the site installations from the previous day, diagramming each site.
  2. Diagram each of the sites for today.
  3. Discuss the goals for the local server for today.
  4. Most people should participate in the site installations (2a), a local server team should stay behind to work on the server (2b).

Activity 2a: More rooftop installations or skill building [5 hours +]

Participants continue building new network sites, or fixing issues with previously installed sites (if some equipment was installed temporarily).

If there are no sites ready for installation, additional skill building around installations can be discussed and practiced: mounting, hardware, cabling, keeping things neat, and rooftop and tower safety.

For the installations, participants can split up into groups of three to four, with someone that is able to troubleshoot installation and networking problems. Some general guidelines can be found in Prep and Install Rooftop Nodes.

Materials: Same as previous installations

Activity 2b: Local Server [5 hours +]

Participants will work toward setting up the server. By the end of the day, this team should diagram how people will access the server and what they will be able to do.

##Forth Day

Schedule: 09:00 to 17:00
Lunch: 12:30 to 1:15

The forth day is focused on developing goals and next steps for the network, outreach materials and additional skills such as troubleshooting. The local server group may continue working on the server until it is installed and functional.

Warm-up activity: Defining Goals and Objectives [1 hour 30 minutes]

Using the Metrics & Goals worksheet together (writing each section on a big board or big sheet of paper), participants discuss the ideal goals and future work.

Participants should come up with ideas on how to use the network, how to increase participation, and how to make it sustainable. These should be concrete plans, with actionable steps.


Activity 1: Troubleshooting Commotion and Networking [1 hour 30 minutes]

Participants explore Commotion more in depth and how to diagnose problems with connections and nodes. Participants should look at the link quality of the network build during days 2 and 3, and test the local applications server.


  • A computer or laptop and access to the network built over the last few days.

Activity 2: Flyers and outreach planning [1 hour 30 minutes]

Participants discuss what individuals and organizations in the community could be included in the network, and can create outreach flyers and materials.

Through discussing the necessary people to include, participants form an outreach plan with steps to increasing the number of people using the network. The Inventory the Neighborhood and Identify Neighborhood Skills surveys may help in this as well.


After that, it is time to celebrate!

##Overall Outputs

  1. Participants will be able to plan neighborhood and town-level network installation sites.
  2. Participants will be able to use maps to estimate network sites, links and coverage.
  3. Participants will be able to discuss challenges to wireless links, and solutions.
  4. Participants will be able to install and configure Commotion for their network.
  5. Participants will feel comfortable planning network sites and installing routers on rooftops.
  6. Some participants will be able to troubleshoot problems with Commotion.
  7. Participants will install a functional wireless network.
  8. A local server will provide services on the network.
  9. Participants will define network goals and longer-term plan.
  10. Participants will create outreach materials and plan next steps.