The adventure of Oiapoque: maximized challenge for a system integrator
Bringing technology to a town of 25,000 people between Brazil and the French Guiana shows the far-reaching impacts of our job.
For many professionals in the IT industry, overcoming challenges is part of the daily routine. Sometimes, the will to make a difference takes us to unexpected places.
Our company, Traders Service Communications Technology, a system integration company, is located in the South of Brazil. One of the projects we did last year was in the city of Oiapoque, one of the most Northern city in the country. Getting there takes as long as going to China, without leaving Brazil.
From the airport in our city to the nearest airport at destination, the shortest flight takes 14 hours, with 2 stops. But disembarking there was only the beginning. After an overnight hotel sleep, we woke up early the next day to rent a pickup truck with an unknown driver that offers an unofficial service that locals call “pirate”. We drove for 8 hours (3 of them on dirt roads, hence the 4×4 vehicle).
In a town like Oiapoque, all the usual challenges for a system integrator are maximized. Imagine forgetting a specific tool and having nowhere to buy it from. Any mistake of this nature would imply an 8-hour wait for it to be delivered from the capital. That is, if the rain doesn’t cause blockades on the muddy roads.
In fact, the tropical rainforest climate affected our work continuously. The rain would force us to stop the service, only to see the sun shining five minutes later. So the weather was pretty hostile and unpredictable, which demands a patience that I’m sure many readers from other parts of the world can relate to.
Oiapoque is so remotely located that we felt like travelling 20 years back in time. The mission itself was to install Axis cameras integrated with a perimeter protection system, and VMS by Milestone as part of a customs and border protection project. But the most important integration was with the people we met along the way.
On one of the nights there, Gabriel, who was part of my team, was doing an installation when he noticed someone looking at him. The guy had a flashlight on his helmet and said his name was Eliabson. He explained he lived in a very small village located 24km from there with his wife, who happened to be an Indian. Every other day he went to Oiapoque to work as a private security guard, which made his wife jealous to the point that she had deleted his Whatsapp. While his Whatsapp was gone, his uncle passed away, but he only learned about it three days later. So he needed help to re-install the app.
During the 23 days we spent there, we got acquainted with many other people and learned important things – from the challenges they face to where was the best place to buy cassava flour.
I’m sure many readers have engaged with projects that mattered for them on a personal level. To me, the unusual circumstances of our biggest adventure last year show, first of all, the potential of our market even in regions of the world with small populations and scarce infrastructure. But it also invites us, especially during the holiday season, to reflect upon the difference we can make throughout the year for people out there.
|Article by Éder Warmling
Éder is the commercial director of Traders Service Communications Technology, a system integration company with 11 years of experience in video surveillance, IT and infrastructure in Brazil. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org