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About Meta Mesh

History:

 

Originally founded as PittMesh LLC in 2012, the company renamed itself Meta Mesh to reflect being "more than the mesh" later that same year. The LLC then transitioned to a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in December 2015. Unlike many new organizations, Meta Mesh was able to be financially in the black in its very first year.

 

Now officially Meta Mesh Wireless Communities (we still go by Meta Mesh for short), we build a Community Wireless Network using mesh networking technology in Pittsburgh called PittMesh. Community Wireless Networks provide communities with a low-cost public WiFi option. Too often the high initial and recurring costs for an "enterprise grade" public WiFi network are too much for a small neighborhood to bear. "Top heavy" public WiFi networks tend to fail because they are unsustainable. We are perfecting a model that requires low up front investment, no monthly fees, and organizes existing people and neighborhood resources to maintain and monitor good connectivity for the public benefit.

 

 
Our goals:

 

We want to bridge the Digital Divide in a meaningful and permanent way.  In our own city of Pittsburgh, nearly 23% of people do not have Internet access and in Pennsylvania that number reaches 30%. To live and work in today's digital society it is essential to have access to the Internet. In order to file for public benefits, apply for jobs, turn in homework, or simply be a more informed citizen you need to have Internet access. Reliable Internet access is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity and a right. 

To bridge the Digital Divide we need to do three things.

 

  1. Build the United States' largest community-owned public WiFi network. You can view our progress and see metrics of our success at www.PittMesh.net. By building an exemplary network we can show others that they too can build their own public WiFi without paying exorbitant fees.
     

  2. Build the United States' best community-owned public WiFi network. What good is a huge network if it doesn't work or if it does not benefit the local community? On-mesh website and service development makes PittMesh useful. Since PittMesh is a network unto itself it does not rely on Internet access to be useful. Community message boards, local chat programs, e-book libraries, and emergency notification systems are easily deployed and increase the value of a mesh network. Meta Mesh develops open-source resources to make a better mesh and allows others to use them. You can see our technology at www.github.com/metamesh and www.github.com/pittmesh.
     

  3. Be the best at what we do. This means sharing our knowledge and engaging those who need to build their own public WiFi network. We teach others about how to build these networks. We cannot improve the world from our office. Meta Mesh is dedicated to creating high-quality educational and administrative resources that can be used freely by anyone, anywhere in order to build networks like PittMesh. You can view some of our classes at www.youtube.com/metameshwc.

Meet the Team

Adam Longwill - Executive Director
Adam Longwill - Executive Director

Adam was born in Pittsburgh, went to Woodland Hills, studied Industrial Design at Philadelphia University before transferring and earning an English degree from Goucher College. He spent a semester at UMBC studying Human-Centered Computing before looking at this bank account and promptly fainting.

 

When he came to, Adam was back in Pittsburgh working in IT. He founded Meta Mesh in 2012. He believes access to information is essential to having a more equal society and the best way to disseminate information is through community-owned infrastructure that resilient and expandable.

Becky Zajdel - Director of Outreach

Becky is a "citizen of the world," born and raised in North Braddock before graduating from Penn Hills High School.  She then headed to Juniata College for her double BA in International Politics and History.  After a few years bouncing back and forth between the US and Central Europe as a Political Science PhD candidate and teaching fellow at Pitt, she left to work for an international law firm before joining Pittsburgh's growing startup scene. Becky is happy to be part of the Meta Mesh team and loves working with the lovely people at WorkHardPGH in Allentown! She is passionate about foreign languages, comic books, good wine, and British television. 

Jacob Driggs - Network and Systems Designer

Jacob, a life-long tinkerer, graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School where he first honed his interest in server administration, and network design.  He then attended Penn State University where he focused his attention on the Industrial Organizational work of Psychology. After graduating and spending some time in the real world, he started his own business marrying his skills in the IT world with his I/O psychology experience, acting as an IT Consultant for small businesses and non-profits. He became interested in the potential of wireless networking technology and built some long distance Point-to-Multipoint systems before being introduced to Meta Mesh. He’s excited to continue doing impactful work with like-minded folks!

Justin Goetz - System Administrator

Justin Goetz grew up in the neighborhood of Brookline in Pittsburgh. Since a kid he's enjoyed all things tech. His current skill set focuses on Linux System Administration and Network Administration, with 4 years of real-world hands on experience. Justin maintains all Meta Mesh server infrastructure as well as assists in keeping a 100+ node network functioning. 

Drew from Zhrodague - Network and Systems Consultant

Drew from Zhrodague is a 300-foot tall fire-breathing sysadmin, living at the top of the South Side Slopes. He is an amateur radio enthusiast who has built his own antennas for use in the 40 meter and 160 meter bands. Drew has contributed to O'Reilly books such as "Google Map Hacks" and has also taught other classes on building omnidirectional antennas for the 2.4 GHz band at Hack Pittsburgh. He’s worked with dorkbot, Meta Mesh, and with a few other local groups. When not toppling buildings, Drew works on many projects, including HAM radio, mesh networking, GIS systems, and recycled embedded computing projects.

Carolyn Conte - Administrative Assistant

Carolyn has earned two degrees from Duquesne University in International Relations and Journalism. She has also studied at the Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she become proficient enough in Spanish to assist Meta Mesh in communicating with Pittsburgh's burgeoning Latino population. Carolyn has focused on gathering information for our In-Home Internet Access survey being carried out in Hazelwood, Homewood, and the Hill District. She also assists the Director of Outreach with grant-related projects. She has previously interned with the Washington Post. When she's not interviewing Pittsburgh residents in sub-zero weather she likes to watercolor.

Eddie Crowley - On-site Installer

Eddie is a licensed Electrician and is something like 8 foot 2 so he can run cables without a ladder. He's also able to levitate coax with his mind and sometimes causes sparks to shoot from his fingers. We like him and he runs cable like no one we've ever seen.

Board of Directors

Colin Dean - President

Colin hails from the great northern Greater Pittsburgh area, with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science and Education from Westminster College and Robert Morris University, respectively. He’s run businesses and non-profits since he was 14 and has been involved with Meta Mesh since its humble beginnings as just an interest group meeting at Hofbraühaus. He is deeply involved with the developer community in Pittsburgh, Code & Supply, and has organized more than five major developer conferences in Pittsburgh.

Ashley Corts - Vice President

A resident of the Allentown neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Ashley is also the co-owner of Black Forge Coffee House on Arlington Avenue. She is a dedicated fixture in the Allentown business community and is dedicated to improving her hilltop neighborhood. The Blackforge Coffee House is one of the many locations where guests can jump on the Pittmesh wireless network and is home to both indoor and outdoor wireless routers. 

Siena Kane - Treasurer

Siena is a proponent of community building and is excited to bring her passion for neighborhoods, small businesses, and entrepreneurship to the Board of Meta Mesh. Siena is currently the Allentown Business District Manager for Hilltop Alliance where she's seen the positive impact of Pittsburgh's first wireless business district. In her free time she enjoys exploring Pittsburgh neighborhoods and new environments by bicycle, advancing her gardening skills, and finding local places to enjoy delicious food and drink. Siena holds an MSW from the University of Pittsburgh.

Joshua Zorich - Secretary

Joshua Zorich is a native son of Pittsburgh. Born and raised in Penn Hills, Joshua obtained a B.S.B.A. and M.B.A  from Clarion University. Having developed a passion for politics, social causes and environmental sustainability in his formidable college years, Joshua quickly began pursuing personal and professional opportunities in these areas, becoming LEED-Accreddited and volunteering with several environmental NGOs. Joshua has been involved with the Odyssey of the Mind program since he was 14-years old. He has recently been serving as the local organization’s State Association Treasurer since 2010.  Professionally, Joshua has a background in payroll and benefits, having already worked in the nonprofit, private and governmental sectors.

He currently lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with his wife Sara and their three cats. He enjoys ultimate frisbee, jigsaw puzzles and making soy candles.

David Duggan - Board Member

David has over fifteen years’ business experience in the Greater Pittsburgh area, with a focus on the sale and maintenance of luxury vehicles. He is happy to bring his experience with small business, computers, and all things Pittsburgh to the board of directors.  Dave also enjoys the Steelers, the Pirates, and digital photography. He lives in Monroeville with his girlfriend Angie. 

Knowledge Hudson - Board Member

As a fulltime entrepreneur, Knowledge Build A. Hudson utilizes on the ground and social media strategies to reach, engage, and connect people to opportunities. Knowledge has a strong background in planning, coordinating, and facilitating campaigns. He also has a comprehensive experience in recruitment and managing projects. In his free time he enjoys traveling, learning, and teaching. Knowledge Build-Hudson graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on child development and comparative cultures.

Ian Cook - Board Member

Ian Palmer Cook, PhD, has dedicated his career to the quantitative study of society and its politics. Ian is currently a Senior Data Scientist with Highmark Health, conducting predictive analytics in the areas of healthcare utilization and outcomes. While completing a doctoral degree in Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Ian also conducted research for the RAND Corporation. In both roles he tackled persistent and difficult questions according to scientific principles, addressing topics ranging from improving the functioning of the defense industry to investigating the impact of personal beliefs and knowledge on political behavior. Ian has over a decade of experience working with statistical concepts and tools, teaches others their use and interpretation, and experiments with novel applications of methods. A strong believer in the value of coupling education and technology, Ian helped create after-school technology skills courses delivered by numerous under-served schools in Chicago.