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Development 27 March 2014

Building Strength in Latin America and Caribbean

By Christian O'FlahertyRegional Vice President - Latin America and The Caribbean
Olga CavalliFormer Member, Internet Society Board of Trustees

Capacity building in developing countries is both challenging and rewarding, including in Latin America and the Caribbean. The disparity among different regions and within countries requires strategies and tactics that are targeted and adjusted for specific needs.

The needs are so broad and so different that a single government, organization or company can’t address them all. There is a need for partnerships and collaboration – basically, strong and strengthened communities of practice, and strong sense of trust between them all.

The Internet Society has contributed to building this trust by identifying partners that are already experienced at local and regional levels, and collborating with them and supporting them with information, resources, contacts and whatever it takes to build more human, technical and governance capacity in the region.

Local Solutions Mean Reducing the Digital Divide

The needs are so broad that many different and innovative ways are required to address the challenges and engage with people. ISOC works with stakeholders through technical and policy capacity building efforts, as well as through targeted support of research and university programmes and activities.

Good examples and success stories of training and capacity building that ISOC supports are the tutorials at LACNIC events, the South School on Internet Governance (SSIG), the IGF Preparatory meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean pre- IGF. We also support WALC (Workshop Latin America and the Caribbean)  workshops that have been organized each year by EsLaRed since 1992.

Universities and National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) are central to the creation of content as this is where trainers get their experience, technical capacity is built, and efficient networks are available to help stakeholders develop baseline content. In LAC, many universities are connected to NRENS. ISOC supports the development of such intiatives through RedCLARA (Cooperación Latino Americana de Redes Avanzadas or Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks), and organizers of TICAL, an annual event aimed to enhance the work and the role of ICT Directors of universities throughout the region.

We build connections with people and relevant research efforts and programmes.   FRIDA, the Regional Fund for Digital Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean, is a LACNIC-led programme that is dedicated to contributing to the development of the Information Society in the LAC region by funding research projects, and recognizing and rewarding innovative approaches in the use of ICTs for development.

Our Community Grants Program targets specific needs in local communities either through the local ISOC Chapters or through well known established not-for-profit organizations. An example regional support is an award that ISOC’s Argentine Chapter received in 2013 to promote web accessibility in Argentina.

Local, Regional and Cross-border Interconnection

The Internet Society also has supported the development of communities of practice to develop more efficient Interconnection and Traffic Exchange in the region by working with partners such as LACNOG, the Network Operators Group community established in 2010, LACNIC, and LAC-IX, the regional IXP association. ISOC and its partners hold Regional Interconnection fora, as well as Peering Forums and local Technical Internet exchange point (IXP) workshops and technical training sessions to continue to build human, technical, and governance infrastructures.

On Stability and Security

Making a stronger Internet requires addressing Stability and Security issues in a cooperative way. In addition to the usual support that ISOC provides to activities and organizations for technical training, or raising awareness, there are specific activities aimed to coordinate community efforts. An example of such coordination is the Security Stability and Resliency (SSR) group promoted by ICANN to share information on SSR activities, conferences and events, and to discuss how partnering organizations can better coordinate their support to stakeholders.

Some of those stakeholders are currently running critical infrastructure such as Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) or Internet exchange points (IXPs).

We work closely with the regional organizations that support these groups to deploy technologies that will improve security and resiliency of the Internet.  For ccTLDs, ISOC supported several LACTLD technical trainings to promote the utilization of DNSSEC that resulted in additional ccTLDs deploying DNSSEC and “signing” their ccTLDs.. For IXPs, ISOC promotes the utilization and development of Best Current Operational Practices and  collaboration among regional IXPs through LAC-IX.

Being in region and working hand-in-hand with the these amazing patners has been crucial in helping ISOC and its partners define areas we need to focus on, find local experts who can help, and track our success.

To reach our vision of a world where everyone can access and develop a connected, borderless, permission-less, limitless Internet that creates opportunity and progress for all we need local solutions amplified by global reach.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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