Cody Bunch Some Random IT Guy - OpenStack, DevOps, Cloud, Things

vDM Zombies and other late night ramblings

Ok, so I blame @discoposse (web) for this. That is, I’ve been drawn into the Interop Virtual Design Master challenge. What follows below are the late night ramblings of someone without enough caffeine or knowlege of what exactly is handy after a Zombie outbreak.


The prompts for this challenge, both parts 1 and 2 deal with how to bring infrastructure back online in a post zombie apocalypse world. As not much more had been specified other than a number of users and make the infrastructure defensible, we’re going to go off the deep end rather than with a traditional setup.

This ‘design’ is setup to be phased in as various parts of the infrastructure are brought online.


Someone did something dumb. Likely mixing both nano technology and bioengineered genetic weapons. Whatever the case, to say there was fecal matter and that damned fan would be an understatement. Everything is offline. Everything. The power grid is in shambles, most of the power plants have become hold out pockets of zombies, or have fallen in to various stages of ‘melt down’. Communications, which over the last several decades has come to depend largely on electronics, well, they’re turbo offline.

In both the Vegas and Anchorage hold out, there have been a few strong personalities that have stepped forward. We used to call them preppers, but, well, now they’re the folk with solar panels and food stock. There are also a number of first responders (fire fighters, police, and what’s left of the national guard) that have begun to reestablish some form of normal.

As the mission at this stage is to handle the intimidate situation dictates the use of pen/pencil & paper to keep records.

It is also assumed, that the zombie outbreak was middling to quick. Allowing for some preparation and notification for folks to arrive at the shelter facilities. About 3-7 days worth of food & water. Or, enough time to secure the means for producing more of the same.

User Persona

There are two basic user persona we’re designing for:

  • First responders / Preppers
  • Survivors

First Responder / Prepper

In this user class we have the ‘helpers’. These are the folks with the guns, food, shelter, and some solar panels. As users of our new infrastructure, they require the ability to communicate with one another over middling to long distances to support both the day to day operations of the camp as well as scouting missions and logistics.


The survivors depend on our infrastructure both directly to receive news and to reach out to loved ones who may have survived.

Phase 1 - Food, Shelter, Support, Comms

Phase one begins with bringing the bases of operation online and providing basic services for those coming in and dealing with the outbreak.

Design Goals

Establish a base camp, bring basic services (food, etc) online, and support the communications and logistics missions to acquire further supplies.

Basic Design

This basic design is a rough outline of the first phase of this plan. That is, get a base-camp up to basic operational capacity: Shelter & Comms.

These however will be approached out of order, as based on the assumptions, survivors & helpers will have enough food & water supplies to bring comms back online first to further support the turn-up.

Note: Due to time constraints, we’ll not go into a full operational plan, contingencies, troubleshooting, and the rest that would accompany a full design. Any haste at this stage would result in the loss of life.

Need 1 - Comms

As we are dealing with first responders, their vehicles and persons are equipped with some form of radio communication. This, in addition to the solar / generators or other power producing equipment provided by the preppers will support the first effort at comms.

In this case, radios were chosen as they are readily available, designed for adverse conditions, and are relatively low power. Through the use of a relay network, that is people stationed at 75% of the effective radio distance to relay the message, we are able to provide robust communication back to base camp to organize parties to salvage food and water supplies from what bits of civilization that are now uninhabited. This communications network also has regular check-ins to protect against node failure and give early warning of zombie movements in the are.

This radio network has limited broadcast abilities due to power constraints. However, once daily, survivors are allowed to broadcast a prerecorded message to reach out to loved ones. Any messages received throughout the day are relayed by the network and radio operators to the survivor in question.

Need 2 - Shelter

Shelter! This is where the preppers shine. Between personal shipping container bunkers, extra tarps and enough ammo to clear out an old shopping mall’s worth of zombies. More specifically, this design requires the preppers to take over the supernap. While the existing comms infrastructure in the area isn’t hugely valuable at this stage, the size and design of the facility will allow for the shelter of people, recirculation of air, and be easily defensible.

The design requires the Alaska based preppers take over the 5th Avenue Mall in Anchorage. Once cleared & secured, the building has access to nearby parks and greenways to provide additional food and water.

On Food and Water

It needs restating that the first responders and preppers bringing these facilities online will both be able to procure as they secure, as well as once secure & comms operational, provide the survivors the means to organize into parties and procure & secure further.

Phase 2 - Defense and Expansion

Oh. No. They. Didn’t. sqrt(-shit)^2.

That is, folks are several months into what has to be one of humanities biggest challenges to date, and now there are zombie apologists. We need to defend our infrastructure whilst bringing other survivor colonies online.

Design Goals

Defend. Expand.

Basic Design

This is broken up by component. Comms, shelter, expansion.


First up, comms! - Turns out packet radios and our distributed radio network are fairly robust. However, they are subject to ‘meat’ problems. That is, when the zombies meat you, comms are off line. To address this challenge, with the limited technologist contingent onhand, the first order of business is training. That is, each technologiest will be assigned a party of 2 ‘grunts’ and 2 guards. The technologist and the grunts job is two fold: 1) establish more powerful antenna and automated radio relay stations; and 2) train the grunts enough to allow them to fan out and perform the network upgrade autonomously.

There is another design challenge that needs to be addressed coms wise. That is, the long distance comms between survivor outposts. The radio network is still power constrained, and with the zombie apologists in action, also highly variable. To overcome this, we suggest the training of homing pigeons and a robust (n+1 birds), encoded messaging protocol.


This is broken into two bits:

  • Alaska
  • Las Vegas

In Alaska it is recommended that the encampment work to harden the 5th Avenue Mall. Specifically on the 6th Avenue street side we recommend the destruction of the two over-road people bridges, and the defense of all ingress / egress points except those critical with concrete of other available building material.

In Las Vegas, continue to employ the private security team (the dudes with M16’s at the Supernap). The approaches to each building are already Tier IV Gold certified, and fairly robust.


To expand to the next three survivor outposts, we suggest the following:

  • Salvage multiple trucks from the local area to include, as available:
    • School Bus (or charter bus)
    • Mitsubshi FUSO Flatbed trucks

In the schoolbus will be sent an number of first responders and trained survivors to establish the next base-camp. The flatbed cargo truck is to be loaded with supplies: gasoline, food, water, ammo, vehicle repair parts, radio equipment, and pigeons.

Each additional network will provide additional radio broadcast points, further hardening the radio network against failure and allowing the survivors a greater chance of reaching loved ones. Additionally, the increasd robustness of the network will allow the first responders to better communicate and organize supplies, scouting sorties, defense, and broadcast zombie movement.