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Community Projects 10 December 2014

Eleven New Projects Receive Community Grants Awards!

Connie Kendig
By Connie KendigBusiness Analyst

The Community Grants Programme directly impacts the lives of many people and provides an opportunity to help them accomplish goals in an array of areas, including education, community building, economic growth, and Internet policy.

Each year, a number of projects around the world receive funding from the Internet Society; these projects are planned and brought to life by our Chapters and individual members.

By aligning with our 2015 Strategic Objective to provide equal development opportunities for all people by promoting the relevance, deployment, and adoption of the open Internet, the Internet Society through the Community Grants Programme is helping people across the globe leverage the Internet to create a better life for themselves and their communities.  We are honored to announce the following award recipients and wish them much success as they strive to make a positive impact for the benefit of others:

Community Driven Self Organized Learning Environments

Project Leader: Bruno Barrera Yever, Mexico

This project aims to bring Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) to six communities in poverty around Mexico City. Working with TECHO and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the project team will provide Internet connectivity and computers to students in these communities, as well as a SOLE-centered MOOC designed to supplement the often-deficient formal education public schools provide. 

As a broader goal, the team believes that education and technology will enable the residents of these communities to overcome their poverty situation. Not only does this project aim for improved education, but also for community self-determination through a more informed and active exercise of citizenship.

Smart Communities with the Civil Society App

Project Leader: Vadim Georgienko, Ukraine

The project team, in partnership with the Young Community foundation, aims to develop Ukrainian communities’ capacity for collective decision-making and self-governance – to become Smart Communities – with the help of a mobile application that encourages the crowdsourcing of opinions, votes, and ideas for local political and social initiatives. The team has created innovative functionality within the Civil Society application and plans to enhance the features and implement it among three pilot groups of beneficiaries (students, members of NGOs, and community members), then to scale the implementation among the country in the upcoming local elections (October 2015). 

A video of the app’s current functionality may be found on YouTube.

The Mobile Solar Computer Classroom

Project Leader: Asia Kamukama, Uganda

Designed to address the problem of limited hands-on computer training in Ugandan schools and communities and the lack of access to relevant information, this project will maximize scarce resources by using solar power and providing reliable, efficient computers and Internet access to schools and community libraries. The classroom consists of a modified Toyota RAV4 (with a custom rack on top to support solar panels), three 85-watt solar panels, 200mA battery, 15 Laptop computers, one Internet router, a 5m by 3m foldable tent, eight folding chairs and two teachers. 

The project provides customized computer training to students, teachers and community groups. In partnership with five primary schools, the project will train students in grades 4 to 7 on a two-year basic computer skills curriculum and will conduct teacher ICT capacity building workshops.

Tiflolibros: Biblioteca digital para ciegos – puntos de acceso a la lectura para personas con discapacidad visual (Digital Library for the Blind – Access Points to Reading for Persons with Visual Disabilities)

Project Leader: Pablo Lecuona, Argentina

Tiflolibros is the first digital library for Spanish-speaking visually impaired people, accessible worldwide for free over the Internet using computers or mobile devices adapted with screen reader programs. The project aims to expand

  1. The library resources to include new local content, particularly from Argentinian and Latin American authors; and
  2. Access to those resources by creating four pilot facilities – or Access Points – in libraries, telecenters or other organizations in the northern Argentine provinces to benefit people with visual disabilities. 

The team will document these experiences in a toolkit that can facilitate and encourage other organizations throughout Latin America to form their own access points.

Cyber-SOS I2C3 (International Internet Community Cooperation in Cyberattacks)

Project Leader: Miroslaw Maj, Eastern Europe

The project will design and test a Cooperation Model in which Internet communities can help each other internationally in case of cyber attacks (e.g. DDoS). It will analyze known massive cyber attacks and study what could be done when international solidarity and a willingness to help your colleagues in other country is effective and well coordinated. A team of ISOC members from six countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, and Ukraine) with substantial knowledge of the challenges and complexities of the CEE region, expertise in cybersecurity and active participation in their own Internet communities will form a Cooperation Network, exchange their experiences and analyze their joint capacity to deal with cyber attacks.

The project team will collect conclusions and send the main outcome (a model of cooperation) to all CERT-like organizations, cybersecurity stakeholders and to all interested ISOC members in partner countries.  The major beneficiaries are Internet communities in countries prone to cyber attacks, security stakeholders (e.g. national CERTs), and ISOC Chapters and members in the cooperation countries.

Internet Access for Rural and Underdeveloped Communities in Guerrero State, Mexico

Project Leader: Luis Martinez, ISOC Mexico Chapter

With the support and expertise of the Internet Society Mexico Chapter members and Mexican higher education institutions, the project will provide access to the Internet to a group of indigenous, rural and underdeveloped communities in the Mexican state of Guerrero, near Acapulco.  Upon completion, the project will provide at least 1Mbs to three communities at the banks of river Papagayo, by means of establishing a wireless communications backbone connected to the facilities of Universidad Loyola del Pacífico in Acapulco and distributed via 5.4GHz links to these communities, where a local access point will provide WiFi access to inhabitants. The team will install and remotely operate a fully automatic weather station connected to this infrastructure as a tool for disaster avoidance.

The project has the potential to benefit more than 25,000 people, providing them with communication capabilities and health, agriculture and disaster-avoidance information.

Respect Girls on the Internet Community-Based Cyber Harassment Protection

Project Leader: Niranjan Meegammana, Sri Lanka

The project will create digital content in the local language to raise awareness about online harassment towards young girls, advocate for safe and respectful online discourse, and train youth.  One output will be a Cyber Privacy eHandbook for those new to the Internet, as well as for teachers and parents. A group of young people will learn how to create short films, digital posters, stories, and comics available online to encourage peer-to-peer awareness. This online network will expand to the real world with short film exhibitions and awareness-raising exercises in schools. 

The team will distribute freely all content created from the project  under Creative Commons 3.0 online allowing for wider sharing, replication and adaptation across the world.

Crowdsource Privacy Plan

Project Leader: Alexa Pitoulis, Canada

OpenMedia will undertake a project to engage and inform Canadians about online privacy issues: to gain a better understanding of Canadians’ priorities and expectations when it comes to online privacy and to learn more about how Canadians want to see their privacy protected in an interconnected, digital age. The first phase of the project – currently underway and not financially supported by ISOC – will focus on building and using an online crowdsourcing tool to ensure as many perspectives and ideas as possible are incorporated into a pro-active, positive report that reflects the views and aspirations of Canadians. The second phase, supported by ISOC funds, will focus on analyzing the results and writing, publishing and engaging citizens in the outcomes of the crowdsourced Privacy Plan. 

In addition to the Canadian-focused Privacy Plan, OpenMedia will develop a sharable methodology section or toolkit as a model for how the Internet can be used for participatory policy making, to be adapted to unique social, cultural, and political conditions.

Internet Governance in Pakistan: Developing Draft Legislation for a User-Based, Self-Regulatory Mechanism for the Internet

Project Leader: Sana Saleem, Pakistan

The project aims to ensure that the Internet in Pakistan remains open and free of censorship by the state. This can only happen when there is legislation that protects rights, establishes that access to content on the Internet is voluntary and that the only rights -friendly regulation can be one that empowers the end user to decide what to access or what not to. In order to do this, the team will draft legislation based on consultations that will ultimately reverse control, taking it out of the hands of the government and putting it into the hands of citizens.

This legislation will then be presented to policymakers to write into law.

Net Neutrality in Latin America: A Characterization of Internet Access Services Offered in Five Countries

Project Leader: Pilar Saenz, Colombia

Fundacion Karisma in Colombia will coordinate a study of net neutrality in at least five Latin American countries to understand exactly how or whether neutrality is maintained in the market regarding the local commercial offers by ISPs. While there have been studies on net neutrality in Latin America, these studies have focused only on the legal aspects of neutrality. The team will expand these studies by developing indicators that examine exactly how net neutrality is protected or endangered.  Given how major ISPs within Colombia such as Claro and Movistar operate in most countries throughout Latin America, the team will examine the realities beyond what is written in law to determine to what extent and how net neutrality is maintained throughout the region.

Children’s Future Technology Academy

Project Leader: Melissa Theesen, Cambodia

The Technology Academy offers enrichment activities that include an introduction to technology and the Internet to help students take advantage of growing Cambodian ICT progress.  Recently connected to the Internet with the goal of promoting technical training, the Academy will build a model that integrates Internet content with traditional teacher-facilitated education, blending the classroom while supporting individual learning and student cultural context. From basic computer skills to advanced design software and coding, the goal is to help students develop marketable skills, to encourage critical thinking, and to allow students to access opportunities they otherwise would not be able to imagine in their rural villages.

During the next two years, the project will integrate application software development courses so that students can create Khmer learning applications for their peers, enabling widespread replication.

Are you curious about other projects ISOC has supported in the past?  Please visit the Community Grant webpages to search our more than 180 projects by award year, region, and topic category.

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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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