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Community Networks 3 October 2017

By Indigenous Communities, for Indigenous Communities

Mark Buell
By Mark BuellRegional Bureau Director, North America

At the Internet Society, we believe that the Internet is for everyone. We’re standing by that belief by supporting network development and deployment for indigenous communities that face Internet access challenges.

Community networks, communications infrastructure deployed and operated by local people, offer indigenous communities a way to access the Internet to meet their own needs. These community networks offer a connection to health, education, and economic strength. For many, affordable, high-quality Internet access means community sustainability. In addition, community networks encourage policymakers and regulators to examine new ways and means to fill local digital divides, like supporting local content in the appropriate language(s).

These benefits are not theoretical; we have seen great changes through small projects and united community members working toward a common goal. There are many success stories of indigenous community networks around the world. Take a look at how some of our partners have been working with indigenous communities to develop community networks:

  • The First Mile Connectivity Consortium supports remote and rural First Nations developing and innovating with information and communication technologies (ICT) through research, policy, and outreach. Their website highlights stories of people like Bruce Buffalo, who developed a system that offers four free Internet access points to the Maskwacis First Nation in Alberta, Canada. You can watch his story here.
  • The Internet Society Chapter of Mexico helped bring wireless connectivity to indigenous and rural people in Las Parotas, Cacahuatepec and Aguas Calientes. After their community was hit by hurricanes in 2013, locals came together to create a community network not only to get help in emergencies, but to support education and economic development. You can watch their story here.

This November 8th and 9th, the Indigenous Connectivity Summit will bring together community network pioneers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to develop strategies and solutions to help connect indigenous communities to the Internet.

In addition, we will host a two-day training session on November 6th and 7th for indigenous people who are currently operating a community network, or who are considering deploying one. Attendees will share and learn about community networks and navigating the complex policy environments in North American and beyond. We do not expect all attendees to come with prior knowledge of community networks. In fact, we want to hear from you to guide the training days. The Indigenous Connectivity Summit will be driven by indigenous people, for indigenous people. Join us.

Register for the Indigenous Connectivity Summit here.

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit is an initiative of the Internet Society, the Internet Society New Mexico Chapter, the 1st-Mile Institute, New Mexico TechWorks, and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium.

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