— AlexiaKay

Towers of Power


Lat year I worked for one of the Syrian refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece. There were so many refugees that came up to me and were asking me to explain to them through a translator what their paperwork said and what were the next steps they had to take so they can legally move to the next location. Navigating every country’s legal system is crucial for all arriving refugees is extremely daunting. Apart from the fact that most refugees don’t speak english,  the legal frameworks are very different to those of Syria and other countries in the region, leaving newly arrived Syrians in danger of failing to complete the right paperwork, or missing support they are entitled to. Therefore, I was thinking of creating an SMS based legal advice centre where refugees could send their question in via SMS, and people from immigration or lawyers could respond.

Another idea is to provide free and  open access to internet and new technologies. Internet for refugees is almost of equal importance as basic necessities are.  They need it to contact their families,  they use it to find out where they are and figure out what to do next.  We could create WiFi hotspots in different locations throughout the country instead of having refugees  pay for more data and international plans in each place they go until they reach their destination.


I am interested in doing some research about ways that the GSM infrastructure could be improved in order to minimize chaos in a disaster situation like the Haitian earthquake or the tsunami in Indonesia. Even smaller disasters like a fire or a smaller earthquake could cause mobile connectivity problems especially in regions that don’t have a solid GSM infrastructure. Poor communication between responders can severely  affect populations from connecting with responders and relatives. The first 72 hours following a natural disaster are critical. This is the window of time is when emergency responders are most able to save lives.

Ideas we could work on:

  • Creating more effective early warning systems and inform community how to prepare
  • Thinking of what can be done to improve the resilience of the Mobile Network. Researching  cost effective and  best approaches.
  • Informing and Alerting During a Disaster – Keeping the affected population informed and alerting them to developing situations and support mechanisms is key to an effective disaster response.  An idea could be to establish like a better amber alert system for non  smartphone users.


I looked at some products that can be used in emergency situations  and found the GoTenna. The GoTenna  pairs with an iPhone or Android messaging app. When users lose service, they can  open that app to text other GoTenna users. Texts first get sent to the native GoTenna device over Bluetooth LE, where—thanks to the circuit board, radio chips, and antennae hidden within—the gadget emits radio frequencies to transmit an analog version of the message to the receiving user. GoTenna users can use group messaging, and send their current location to contacts—a feature designed especially for emergency situations. The battery lasts about three days on, or up to a year and a half if it’s normally kept switched off.

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Experimenting with gqrx was a really fun experience. I got to hear many different radio stations as well as random conversations. At above 500 MHZ it seems like I could mostly hear policemen talking. It was really hard to record something though because the minute I could hear something more interesting than a radio station the voices would just be replaced by very loud static noise.

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The IMEI number is the following and I could find it on my phone:

35 6991069640332

The IMSI is a 15-digit code where:

  1. The first 3 digits are your Mobile Country Code.
  2. The 4th and 5th digits are for Mobile Network Code.
  3. The next 10 digits are from the Mobile Station Identification Number.


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In their book “Built to Last” Jerry Porras’ and Jim Collins’ present their research into the development of some of the United States’ most successful corporations. They focus their research towards what they call “visionary” companies and compare them to competitors whose businesses disappeared after a period of time and eventually analyze them in accordance with guidelines they’ve set on what makes a good company.

The authors  first introduce the book by stating “This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies.” I believe that all these elements (a visionary leader, product, a vision) contribute to how a visionary company is built and the authors actually touch upon these different elements and how they contribute to making a company successful  later on in the book as well so I’m not sure why they wanted to start off their book by separating these different elements… In the first chapter they define a visionary company as a “premier institution in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around them.” They set a list of 18 visionary companies including Walt Disney, Sony, IBM, Marriott an other. However, some of the companies praised as “visionary” have fallen on hard times including HP and Motorola. Also, even though they talk about companies that have endured over a long period of time and have survived so many cultural, social and economic changes, let’s not forget that most these companies were built around the 1940s which was a completely different time. Therefore, the guidelines that the authors set of what made these companies truly visionary mostly correspond to this time in history. So if you looked into 21st century visionary companies such as Apple or Facebook their premise would probably have been different.

In general, I don’t believe that there is a “secret ingredient” that makes a company great, but I enjoyed reading this book because I learned some interesting facts about these companies and their founders’ journeys. I thought it was interesting  that the authors disclaimed certain “business” myths such as “It takes a great idea to start a great company”, “Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders”, Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders”. I also liked the idea of how the authors defined a business being a “clock builder” or a “time teller.” Time tellers focus on being disruptive companies by having a great idea, a great product and making profits while clock builders are focused on building the “ticking clock”, meaning building the building block of the company. “Clock builders” are more reserved and focus on growth and preserving their core values for centuries into the future. The foundational idea is the tension that must be maintained between preserving the core foundational values, mission and beliefs that will never, ever change and stimulating progress methods and practices that will help the company change smoothly with changes in the culture or market.


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