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Community Projects 29 June 2016

How You Can Help Connect The Planet

By Jane CoffinFormer Senior Vice President, Internet Growth

Be it high into the Himalayas, deep into the country side of India or the hills of Mexico, incredible people are helping to bring connectivity to some of the world’s forgotten places.

We want to you to a part of it.

Yesterday we held an online forum where some of these incredible people shared how they are connecting the world by connecting communities.

They talked about how they helped build community networks and how hard it can be to get equipment.

We heard about different network models, ways to fix common problems, links to resources for new projects and to help train others.

Here is who spoke:

Rajnesh Singh, ISOC Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau Director: Raj gave us a high-level overview of ISOC’s Wireless for Communities Project (W4C) in APAC that has been running since 2010, and the impact he is seeing in the communities we work in with our partners.

Osama Manzar, Director/Founder, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF):  ISOC has forged a partnership with DEF to support their W4C efforts. In collaboration with DEF, we have connected over 13 Indian villages in rural India. Osama described how he built communities, and the impact connectivity has made in high-mountain villages.  From the development of micro-enterprises and health centres to schools brought online, and trainers “trained” to build and roll-out community networks.

Mahabir Pun, Nepal Wireless Networking Project, ISOC Hall of Fame and Jon Postel awardee: Mr. Pun’s work provides connectivity to villages in Nepal through community wireless projects and the opportunities for tele-health and online learning that these projects help make possible. Mahabir has helped ISOC’s APAC team by training local people to become trainers for W4C efforts in the region. In late 2015 his team helped expand the W4C project to Nepal by connecting eight villages in earthquake-affected areas.

Roger Baig Vinas, project, and ISOC Catalan Chapter member: is an award-winning Commons-based wireless for a community projects in Catalonia, Spain. Roger described how the Guifi network works and the importance of collective contribution from all partners across urban and rural communities to sustain the entire network.

Mike Jensen, Association for Progressive Communications (APC):  Mike is an active supporter of community-based networks and innovative radio spectrum use. He worked to raise awareness of the potential for TV White Space technology in reaching the unconnected.  Mike shared views on the importance of innovative uses of spectrum and the issue of equipment costs related to project implementation.

Peter Bloom, Rhizomatica:  Peter Bloom founded Rhizomatica in 2009 to address a need to transfer photos and videos between human rights defenders in Nigeria without passing through the networks of large telecommunication companies. Peter provided a snapshot of the GSM-based community-operated network in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the local people built and now run the network.

Jane Butler/Sebastian Beuttrich – part of the Wireless Networking in the Developing World (WNDW) volunteer team:  Jane described how the WNDW book was created and what you can find on its website. She also talked about a really great online University – WirelessU. Sebastian described key training issues and factors involved in building out community infrastructures and the importance of the case-studies in WNDW and online!

Watch the video and learn more!


Stay tuned in to this blog space as we plan to provide more snapshots about Community Networking projects!

Got a great idea to build connect the planet? See if you qualify for support from Beyond the Net!

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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