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About Internet Society 11 May 2021

We Are the Internet Society: Our Impact in 2020

Rinalia Abdul Rahim
By Rinalia Abdul RahimSenior Vice President, Strategy, Communications and Engagement

If there were doubts about how important the Internet is for everyone, 2020 put those to rest. As we push forward through this turbulent time, I want to take a moment to share some inspiration.

The Internet Society’s 2020 Impact Report: The Internet Is a Lifeline is a storybook of ingenuity, collaboration, and what happens when people who care about bringing a better life to their families and neighbors come together. It tracks our work by actions and impacts, and shows major shifts in the way people use the Internet now.

Through these stories, we see a global community of people who work, often quietly and behind the scenes, to bring the Internet to those who don’t have it, and to make it stronger for those who do.

Joseph Bishi, an Internet Society member, is one example.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, most residents of the town of Murambinda, eastern Zimbabwe, accessed the Internet at the local cyber cafe. But as lockdowns, quarantines, and restrictions began, many could no longer connect. People could no longer work, children couldn’t continue school, and a public outcry began. Joseph responded swiftly.

Joseph was the technical lead on a 2018-2019 project to expand Africa’s first community network to public access points by a 40-kilometer radius. Thanks to his ongoing dedication and a grant provided by the Internet Society, in 2020 this effort was magnified. A solar-powered mast was installed, creating residential hotspots and bringing the Internet into homes for the first time – a time when it was needed more than ever.

As we look back at the year that was, an inspiring theme emerged: resilience. Our collective capacity to pivot quickly in the face of adversity, just as Joseph Bishi and the Murambinda community did, echoed the world over.

From the Internet Society Yemen Chapter, which helped students continue their education amid national conflict and global pandemic, to Doug Frazier and his colleagues in the New York Chapter, who helped create the Harlem community news streaming project, the Internet did more than help people to cope with the social and economic shocks of the global pandemic. It was a virtual lifeline.

The Internet’s resilience is a reflection of the people who developed it and who work to strengthen and grow it. This global society consistently rises to meet challenges and enrich lives, overcoming obstacles with determination and passion. We are the Internet Society, an unstoppable force for the Internet.

But there is still so much more to do, and the pandemic is still very real. For those without the Internet, closing the digital divide has never been more urgent. Nearly half the world had to live through 2020 without Internet access. And the Internet still faces threats, both from governments who want to shut it down or control it, and from industrial interests that want to own it all.

If you’d like to be part of the solution and give to a cause that can connect your friends and loved ones to a bigger and stronger Internet, we’d love you to join us! You can support this vital work by becoming a member

By joining together, we can do more for the Internet, ensuring it really is for everyone.

Read the 2020 Impact Report: The Internet Is a Lifeline
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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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