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About Internet Society 28 March 2019

Working Together the Internet Way to Build Success in North America

Mark Buell
By Mark BuellRegional Bureau Director, North America

One of the most common lines you’ll hear in the virtual halls of the Internet Society is that the Internet’s success is due to its open, distributed, and global nature.

Think about it. A network of voluntarily-connected networks changed the course of history in a matter of decades because people agreed to work and innovate together. It’s a deeply profound source of inspiration about the power of humankind.

It practically begs the question: can we replicate even a portion of its success by embodying the “the Internet way” of working in North America?

The answer is yes.

As part of this, one thing is strikingly clear. Chapters and partners are the lifeblood of the organization. They are critical to working more closely with communities at the front lines of our work.

The Internet’s own globally-operable infrastructure proves the infinite potential of what can happen when people work together. In the same way, we will come together as a diverse community to help define future priorities.

We’ve already seen successes in the North American region that show how closer collaboration with Chapters and partners can help us reach new levels of success.

Enhancing IoT Security

Canada is changing how countries around the world think about securing our connected future.  Last year, the Internet Society launched and led the Canadian Multistakeholder Process oversight committee to secure Internet of Things (IoT) in Canada.

Throughout this project, the Canadian chapter helped plan meetings and enlist a dedicated group of partners, stakeholders, and youth participants to develop recommendations for an IoT policy to ensure security is ingrained in Canadian innovation. The Quebec chapter also organized a focus group on IoT during an Internet Engineering Task Force meeting in Montreal last year.  Even our U.S. Chapters and organization members are supporting the cause. For instance, the Internet Society’s New York Chapter hosted a session on how to make trustworthy IoT last October.

Thanks to this collaboration, countries and policymakers around the world are being inspired by our work. While the final recommendations aren’t expected until April 2019 (Canadians can comment on the draft here), we’re already helping countries like Senegal, France, and others to adopt similar regulatory approaches to build a future we can trust.

Indigenous Connectivity

Connecting the world is critical and we won’t rest until everyone who wants to be connected has the option to do so. Thanks to a dedicated group of individuals, communities, and local Chapters like New Mexico, we’ve made great headway to inspire solutions to close the digital divide in Indigenous communities throughout North America.

We’ve already held two successful Indigenous Connectivity Summits (ICS) to explore the potential of community networks to empower communities to connect to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet on their own terms. The ICS has also inspired plans to create a new Chapter focused on Indigenous connectivity.

You can read about last year’s event held in Canada’s Artic community of Inuvik, NT in Empowerment Through Connectivity.  We’re already looking forward to the third Summit in Hawaii this November, and not just for the change in weather. Stay tuned here for more details on ICS!

Promoting a Healthy Internet for Everyone

When it comes to advocacy, we have a lot of ground to cover as a global organization. There is a wide range of issues critical to ensuring an open Internet for all, and Chapters and partners are crucial to speaking with a stronger regional voice.

Just last month, Konstantinos Komaitis led a speaking series on regulation in the United States and Canada to bring attention to our Chatham House call for papers on consolidation. Thanks to help of the Washington DC and Canada Chapters to organize these events, our “regulation on the road” tour brought attention to the unintended consequences of regulation in key newsworthy moments, such as securing Canada’s federal election.

One of the successes that inspired our collaborative efforts was supporting DC Chapter Executive Director Dustin Phillips’ Internet community road trip last year. His collaboration with the San Franscisco-Bay Area chapter and other partners to promote the importance of getting involved in Internet Governance helped bring some powerful doers and shakers to the ecosystem.

This year, we’ll be advocating for security standards like MANRS. We’ll also continue to collaborate on even more events, educational resources, and webinars to amplify what we do, why it matters, and how it’s important to the future of the Internet.

Moving Forward Together

When it comes to making a difference, the Internet has already taught us that we’re stronger together than we are apart.

By integrating “the Internet way” of working with Chapters and partners based on our shared goals and values, the Internet Society can take greater strides to making the Internet a better and more inclusive place for everyone.

Based on our early successes, we’re more confident than ever that collaboration will take us to new levels of success.

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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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