Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Technology

Connecting “Los Nevados” on the Roof of the Andes

Beyond the Net Journal: Venezuela Chapter

Have you ever been to Los Nevados?

Reaching this tiny village, located in the Sierra Nevada National Park at 2,711 m. above sea level, can be a real adrenaline adventure. The scary and dangerous cliff road leading to the town is one of the world’s most spectacular and dangerous. The rough terrain can get very muddy and slippery after rain, making it challenging to get through.

As you can guess, not less challenging was bringing Internet access to 2,000 inhabitants living in this remote area.

The idea to develop a wireless architecture to provide Los Nevados with Internet services and reduce their isolation came to Paola Perez, a computer systems engineer and Internet Society member. At that time she was based in Merida, the capital city, 69 km away.

Paola remembers: “Initially my dream was to bring connectivity to the Canaima National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage site, but I changed my mind when I recalled my friend Yeiny, who lives in Los Nevados. She attended university in Merida, but she couldn’t return to her village on weekends because she had no Internet connection to download the contents of the exams.”

Gabriela Muñoz (left), Paola Pérez (right)

Empowering “Los Nevados” through ICTs usage for social benefit” was funded in 2016 by the Internet Society in collaboration with the Venezuela Chapter. Although it seemed impossible to overcome the technical difficulties, the project team never lost sight of their dream to connect that remote place to the rest of the world. At the end, the talented and devoted team succeeded and also won the Chapterthon – a marathon open to all LAC Chapters to achieve a common goal for the development of their region.

The fruits of persistence are now providing endless benefits to Los Nevados, who are overcoming their physical and cultural isolation.

New educational opportunities are offered to the local students through access to relevant content and remote learning. Parents with children studying away at university are now using live chat and email services to get in touch.

Farmers, who represents the majority of the population, are exchanging seeds and marketing their products. Artisans are promoting their crafts online.

Not only los Nevaderos are now enjoying the Internet connection with unlimited services but also the visitors.” Paola explains: “It’s hard to imagine because it’s a place so difficult to reach, but about 500 people per month are visiting the village. Hikers use it as a base for climbing Pico Bolivar, the highest mountain in Venezuela (4,978 m). When there was no Internet connection all payments were only in cash, and people were not aware of it until they arrived at the site. Now tourists are able to book accommodations and make online payments.”

The Civil Registry of the village can finally provide inhabitants with any digital document downloadable from public websites. It is also possible to keep records of births and deaths in digital format, sharing the data with institutions. The “Village Radio Station” is using streaming technology to share in real time the news from the world. Los Nevados also take pride of publishing stories and photos about the community to preserve their traditions. The Internet has become an essential tool for information and citizen participation.

These are only few examples of how this project is empowering the life of Los Nevados and helping to achieve SDG goals 3,4,8,9.

Do you feel like renting a burro for three hours trek to Los Nevados, getting lost in the magnificent tropical zone of the Andes? Now you can book online.

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Categories
Beyond the Net Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Privacy Technology

12 Innovative Projects Selected for Beyond the Net Funding

Beyond the Net Funding Programme is pleased to announce the results of our June 2017 grant application cycle. A total of 102 applications were received and, after a thorough review process, 12 projects were selected.

The new grantees are a group of talented, diverse, and devoted people committed to work on critical issues in their home region using the Internet to bring innovation and empower their communities all across the globe.

The range of issues and approaches these new cycle’s projects cover are extraordinary, such as providing telemedicine solutions in remote districts of Nepal, installing aquaponics and vermiculture technologies in Zimbabwe, connecting remote mountainous regions of northern New Mexico, fighting digital harassment in Barbados, establishing IXP to minimize traffic costs in Kyrgyzstan, and supporting the development of rural and digital libraries in Armenia and Argentina.

Each project also provides key evidence that the Open Internet is an essential tool in facilitating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We would like to thank all the applicants for their efforts, and we encourage them to keep submitting innovative projects.

Congratulations to the new grantees and good work!

Summaries of awarded grants:

Conectando Comunidades, Internet te Incluye
Argentina – Asociación Civil Tiflonexos
El proyecto “Conectando comunidades, Internet incluye”, busca impactar directamente en la vida de las personas con discapacidad. En linea con la misión y los valores de ISOC, buscamos utilizar Internet como una herramienta que mejore la calidad de vida de las personas. En este sentido nos proponemos atacar la falta de acceso a la lectura de las personas con discapacidad, proporcionándoles acceso a una Biblioteca Digital de acceso libre para personas con discapacidad y asì disminuir la brecha cultural.

En el año 2015 y 2016 ISOC apoyó dos proyectos llevados adelante por Tiflonexos y Argentina Chapter lográndose generar 6 puntos de acceso a la lectura en provincias desfavorecidas de Argentina. De esta manera se logró alcanzar a unas 300 personas capacitadas en los beneficios que el uso de Internet puede traer para la inclusión de las personas con discapacidad y lográndose el acceso a la lectura de al menos 90 personas.

Argentina Regional IXP
Camara Argentina de Internet – CABASE
El objetivo del proyecto es poder brindar a la comunidad una mejor calidad de conexion a Internet. En especial en zonas de poco desarrollo o mal atendidas. Generar un punto colaborativo comun donde se empodera a los pequenos ISPS (SMEs) a mejorar su serivicio, permite instalar caches de CDNs (contentent delivery Networks) que seran compartidos entre todos aprovechando sus beneficios. Instalar 2 IXPs en zonas remotas de nuestro pais donde hoy no hay buena calidad de interent en los proximos 12 meses.

Estariamos desmostrando a la industria de internet que gracias a aportes y funding provisto por organizaciones como ISOC y su capitulo local permiten desarrollar la internet en IXPS REGIONALES especiamente en zonas de acceso precario a INTERNET.  La idea es testimoniar la formacion de estos IXPS en un VIDEO donde los propios protagonistas puedan contar el logro de haber formado esta comunidad.

CLIC Québec : Promouvoir le contenu local et les industries culturelles du Québec en ligne
Canada Québec Chapter
Dans un contexte de croissance du e-commerce et de domination de l’offre de contenus étrangers proposés par les plateformes numériques (Netflix, Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube) au Québec, le Projet CLIC Québec cherche à sensibiliser les décideurs politiques et à renforcer les capacités des acteurs des industries culturelles québécoises afin de garantir la mise en marché, la promotion, la distribution, la découvrabilité et l’accessibilité en ligne des oeuvres et contenus québécois tant pour les internautes du Québec qu’à l’international.

Le projet contribue aux missions et aux objectifs de l’Internet Society, d’une part dans le domaine de «l’Accès et Développement» puisqu’il favorisera la diffusion et l’accès plus large à des contenus locaux diversifiés sur Internet ; et d’autre part il contribuera à l’amélioration de l’environnement politique de régulation des nouvelles plateformes numériques et des nouveaux services de radiodiffusion de contenus et de produits numériques, en stimulant et en enrichissant le débat public sur les questions réglementaires telles que les quotas de contenus ou la taxation des fournisseurs de contenus ou des fournisseurs d’accès Internet pour financer la création et la production d’oeuvres et de contenus culturels numériques.

Effective Broadband for Health
Nepal – Center for Information and Communication Technology for Development
Dailekh District in the Far Western Region of Nepal has a total population of 260,855 but has only one district level hospital. The ratio of doctors to the population is astonishing figure of 1:52,345. Even worse, people have to travel for hours and even days to reach the nearest urban area for full laboratory services for vital check ups.

The project aims to establish a wireless broadband services and provide telemedicine solutions to the village near the district headquarter. The project is not just to develop the infrastructure but also to create a proper information system related to the public health services. The project also aims to bridge the logistic and communication gap between the district level health office to the nearby urban area hospital for required medical services.

Flor de Ceibo Conecta2
Uruguay – Centro Universitario de Rivera – Universidad de la República
Este proyecto se propone trabajar de manera creativa e innovadora para que niños y adolescentes desarrollen competencias digitales y puedan ser constructores de su propia educación. No se trata de usar las tecnologías y la conectividad como simple recurso con el cual se moderniza la práctica pedagógica, y sí utilizar los recursos digitales que tenemos a disposición, para generar espacios de oportunidades para un aprendizaje creativo, motivador y desafiador, construyendo y ampliando una cultura acorde a la sociedad de información y conocimiento a la cual estamos insertos. De este modo, el desarrollo de competencias digitales permitirá a los jóvenes apropiarse de las tecnologías, beneficiarse una Internet abierta y global que permite asistir al mundo desde sus localidades y potenciar su formación como ciudadanos participativos. Serían capaces de adquirir conocimientos, contribuyendo a su educación, de forma de potenciar la mejora de su calidad de vida en concordancia con la Misión de ISOC de promover el desarrollo abierto, la evolución y el uso de Internet para beneficio de todas las personas del mundo, mediante en este caso el apoyo a la educación.

IT Access and Development in Northern New Mexico: Cultivating Connectivity in the Land of Enchantment
New Mexico – Community Learning Network
We are strengthening connectivity and IT engagement for community members who reside in the highly rural and mountainous region of northern New Mexico, which has low income levels and high poverty rates but is culturally rich, multi-lingual, and steeped in traditions. Due to difficult terrain, challenging weather, limited economic opportunities, low graduation rates, and high poverty, northern New Mexico has not enjoyed easy access to high-quality IT services and according to the New Mexico Technology Council, “New Mexico internet connection speed ranks 48th in the nation and is similar to the average connection speed of Iraq and Molodova. Even a 7% increase in broadband adoption could create an estimated 15,000 jobs to New Mexico, according to Federal Communication Commission study. New Mexico was also recently reported to have the highest unemployment in the nation.”

Our community is coming together to work to change this situation and to support connecting the unconnected while employing education and community mobilization to support IT becoming a valued tool for self-determination and self-empowerment here in Land of Enchantment.

Computers, services and Wi-Fi Internet for rural libraries
Armenia Chapter
There is a large number of rural libraries in Armenia, but the overwhelming majority do not have computers. Book circulation is manual as there are no computers and library management programs. There is a need to provide libraries with computers equipped with library management programs that will enable them to subscribe members, register books, organize the book circulation, search requested books, track the movement of books, and control book check-in and check-out as well as quickly receive any required information for the books in the library.

In 2015 Armenia Chapter, aware of the poor state of rural libraries, started a pilot program aiming to help rural libraries with computers, software, training and services. It became clear that they also need help in troubleshooting and repair, operating system, and application program installation. Thus the following plan of support was developed: develop a lightweight library management program; provide computers to libraries; train librarians to use the library management program; and troubleshoot and repair library computers. The Armenia Chapter finished the pilot program with 20 computers and library management programs installed in rural libraries. They provided timely access to requested materials, simplified search/discovery of library resources, and increased library outreach. However while working on the pilot program we estimated that rural libraries need about 1,000 computers. This project aims to install 50 more computers and provide maintenance and training services to rural libraries. We also plan to set up WiFi access for library visitors.

Off-Grid IoT Urban Farming
Zimbabwe Chapter
Mbare is one of oldest, poorest, crime-ridden, and unhygienic towns in Zimbabwe. Mbare is in urgent need of focused efforts to actualize the SDG Goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The idea of starting a Community Aquaponics Project was inspired by a mini-project implemented by students in the IoT Makerspace Project in 2016 at St. Peter’s Secondary School. As a way to engage the Makerspace students in a real problem-solving project, two Arduino-based Open Aquarium kits were procured from Cooking Hacks in Spain. School authorities were so impressed with the project that they suggested the idea of converting one of their shades into an Aquaponics project whose fish and vegetable produce would possibly be sold to the Mbare community. The project installed aquaponics and vermiculture technologies running on Arduino and Raspberry Pi as taught in the Makerspace sessions. Upon developing the Mini-Aquaponics project the project team decided to up-scale this idea to benefit the Mbare community in a more empowering, self-sustaining, and educative manner.

Inline with ISOC’s Access and Development goals this project will utilise second-hand freight containers to grow plants and fish using internet technologies. Participants will be exposed to how monitoring conditions are achieved by using sensors and automation made possible through actuators within the Aquaponics setup.

Implementing Privacy via Mass Encryption: Standardizing pretty Easy privacy’s protocols
Switzerland Chapter
Since the 2013 Snowden revelations of mass surveillance, the level of trust in Internet services has plunged. While discussions around privacy protection had advanced considerably, little progress has been achieved in designing tools that can be used on a daily basis by citizens around the world. The pretty Easy privacy (pEp) project has to goal to radically ease the use of already existing open standards and their corresponding tools for end-to-end encryption, to allow for mass encryption. The pEp project focuses primarily on written digital communications, with the goal of making end-to-end encryption of emails the norm instead of the exception. This is achieved by automating all steps necessary for regular Internet users, to provide a hassle-free, zero-touch experience to everyone. For that to be possible, the ISOC Switzerland Chapter (ISOC-CH) teamed up with the Swiss-based, tax-free pEp foundation to develop Internet-Drafts (I-Ds) for automatization protocols. The pEp foundation has already provides early drafts of I-Ds (cf. https://letsencrypt.pep.foundation/dev/repos/internet-drafts/) to achieve the goal of an open standardization of the pEp protocols, but the work to develop them professionally and adapt them to the requirements and expectations of the Internet community (in particular the IETF) can successfully be undertaken in partnership with ISOC-CH. This work would further strengthen the links between the Chapter and the IETF.

Ferghana Valley Internet Exchange Point
Kyrgyz Chapter
Ferghana Valley, located in crossroads of three countries, is the most populated area in Central Asia. There is a source of regional inter-ethnic tensions due to water and land irrigation disputes, poverty, and lack of access to communication services. The Internet Exchange Point Project in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan is aimed to increase regional cross-border collaboration between stakeholders and the communication of people through increase of Internet affordability by lower internet service tariff plans up to 3 times, multiple growth of Internet traffic exchange in region, increase Internet penetration rate due to price reduction, better latency for international, and regional content sources.

IXP will help local small and medium ISPs minimize traffic costs and spend more on infrastructure rather than on internet traffic purchase. Establishing the IXP would greatly enhance the utility and value of the regional Internet and promote the growth of the digital economy. According to Terabit Consulting, “Improvement in ICT infrastructure yields: increased demand for the output of other industries (demand multiplier), new opportunities for production in other industries (supply multiplier), new goods and services for consumers (final demand). It also increases firms’ innovation capabilities and increases the probability of new products, innovations, and organizations.”

Project C.A.R.E – Combating (online) Abuse through Research and Education
Barbados Chapter
NOAH recognizes that there is a general unawareness of the problem of online abuse in Barbados. Research carried out primarily in North America and Europe shows that the more severe forms of online harassment disproportionately affect women and girls. While anecdotal evidence suggests this is also true in Barbados, with first-hand accounts of abuse, threats, and revenge porn mainly impacting women there is no available research to highlight the prevalence of online abuse.

This project aims to inform through an awareness campaign about the disproportionate effect online abuse is having on the lives of women and girls in Barbados. By engaging local online celebrities with a proven track record for highlighting topical issues and employing the use of social media, the campaign will reach and resonate with vulnerable groups. Though legislation exists in Barbados which outlaws the type of behaviors that constitute online violence, few cases have been brought before the law courts and victims perceive the response of law enforcement to be inadequate. To address this the project will contract an experienced consultant to conduct a training workshop with law enforcement professionals on the island. The project will also measure the awareness of police officers and document challenges they experience in enforcing existing legislation.

Modelo de Desarrollo de Conectividad Comunitaria Indígena
Mexico Chapter
En el último año, comunidades indígenas de México han desarrollado iniciativas de conectividad para proveer de Internet a poblaciones que han sido excluidas del uso de esta herramienta. Una de las experiencias más destacables es impulsada por el Colectivo IK’ TA K’OP, integrado por jóvenes educadores indígenas de la comunidad de Abasolo, Chiapas, quienes desarrollaron una red mesh comunitaria de última milla para generar y difundir contenidos educativos llamada IntraNET Comunitaria YAJ’ NOPTIK. Esta experiencia ha servido como base para el desarrollo de proyectos similares en los estados de Oaxaca y Nayarit, quienes están planteando la creación de IntraNETs comunitarias para el fortalecimiento de procesos organizativos, educativos y de comunicación.

Dichas iniciativas implican una nueva forma de acceso y uso de Internet, convirtiendo la desventaja de la mala calidad de la conectividad o su alto costo en una oportunidad a través de la generación de entornos de cooperación y vinculación.

Consideramos que las redes mesh de última milla administradas por la comunidad de Abasolo, Chiapas y, de forma incipiente en Oaxaca y Nayarit, están desarrollando procesos técnicos, organizativos y de producción de contenidos locales que pueden fortalecerse a través de una red de conectividad comunitaria e indígena (red de IntraNETS) que abarque aspectos tecnológicos, económicos, organizativos, jurídicos y de difusión e intercambio de contenidos.

Por ello, este proyecto se propone generar un modelo de desarrollo de conectividad comunitaria indígena que incluya los aspectos arriba mencionados y que pueda ser replicable a partir de la sistematización de las experiencias comunitarias de redes mesh de última milla en Chiapas, Oaxaca y Nayarit y el desarrollo e implementación de una red de IntraNETs en dichas comunidades. Asimismo, se busca que esta herramienta complemente las redes de telefonía celular comunitaria desarrolladas en el estado de Oaxaca hacia servicios de 4a generación.

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Internet of Things (IoT)

A drone project to change humanitarian disaster response in Philippines.

Philippines is the 4th most disaster-prone country in the world. When a natural disasters hits we are completely wiped out. In remote and rural parts of the Philippines, telecommunications networks can be spotty most of the times. This scenario is willing to change thanks to the Internet Society’s Philippines Chapter new project supported by Beyond the Net Funding Programme.

The aim of the project is to send UAVs — or what most of us call drones — in disaster zones to act as wireless relays and data aggregators. The drones would set up a local MESH network to help people to get in touch with the loved ones. It would also help emergency workers to work safely and talk to one another. The project will also make possible that the drones will be able to work with Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to find information about the situation on the ground.

In the recent years, interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has been evidenced by innovations in this emerging field. Hobbyists and scientists alike have leveled up the use of UAVs in many ways such as forestry surveys, remote sensing and disaster management. While much of the focus of drones to date has been on military applications and as toys, the future of drones as humanitarian tools is getting more promising by the day. Commercial industries view drones as the new logistics support mechanism for parcel delivery, they are also used by environmental bureaus for tracking river flow changes.

In a country prone to disasters like the Philippines, researchers saw the opportunity to implement drones in the field of disaster management. Over the years, the Ateneo de Manila University Innovation Center has been developing use cases for drone technology, mostly for mission-critical scenarios as decision-support platform. Dr. Nathaniel Joseph Libatique, a professor at Manila University said: “We can all do optimization on battery life, rotor design, and frame aerodynamics, but at the core of engineering for humanity is the UAV’s payload – this niche is a breeding space for innovation. Say for example, we can do a fly-by and detect victims in a collapsed building, or do cooperative flights with ground teams – we can cover the breadth of a situation while scaling up value-added systems such as location detection, risk profiling, and even internet connectivity!”

Using hybrid communications technologies and devices – Push-To-Talk (PTT) Radio, Android-based protocols, Raspberry Pi hubs, 915 MHz and 760 MHz transceivers and delay tolerant communications standards (RFC 5050) – the project team continues to demonstrate how critical information such as victim or survivor identities and needs can be robustly transmitted to command and control using bump communications, aggregation and store and forward techniques. Information analysis such as facial recognition and pre-stored information of survivor social networks, especially for the elderly and PWDs, enable an efficient and targeted response.

Flying over the municipality of San Juan, Batangas, a province 140 kilometers south of Metro Manila, the team did a series of experiments that demonstrated the role of UAVs integrating connectivity, highlighting cooperation and underscoring collaboration. In a disaster situation, responders use various radio communication media and this presents an opportunity to interface drones with these devices. Systems incorporating ground vehicles and UAVs provide the breadth and scale necessary to respond to disasters and undertake victim rescue apart from purely imagery missions. In this series of tests, the team did propagation measurements between “victims” and drones functioning as rescuer/alert vehicle. The UAV was flown above the antenna setup subject to the applicable civil aviation rules, utilizing the frequency (760 MHz) as approved for experimental use by the telecommunications regulator. Initial results reveal the potential of UAVs to complement ground teams in the performance of victim rescue support.

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We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

How to apply Beyond the Net

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Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Technology

How the IETF community is shaping technology to build a better society

The continued advancement in technological landscape enabling more people having Internet access in the global arena has meant that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) remains at the forefront of integrating technology with humanity. In fact, IETF has made significant use of social dimension to articulate its area of work and research. It is beautifully reflected in section 4.1 of the RFC 3935 wherein it states that “We want the Internet to be useful for communities that share our commitment to openness and fairness.  We embrace technical concepts such as decentralized control, edge-user empowerment and sharing of resources, because those concepts resonate with the core values of the IETF community”. This focus of inclusion remains at forefront of integration of IETF with human dimension of technology. The standards created in IETF are testimony to technical developments and enables innovation by providing a platform for the innovation and interoperability.

Indian IETF Capacity Building (IICB) Program Phase II has received Beyond the Net Support from Internet Society and focuses on creating technical capacity development for increased participation and contribution of technical standards on Internet from India. The program aligns itself with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such of economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The IICB program was conceived as a traditional program which is hierarchical in nature, meaning it has fixed KPIs rolling up-to objectives and further upward roll up to mission and vision. However, in reality, the program has taken a shift and has focused on creating communities as well which decides their own course of action. This was a marked shift as it required adjustments in the delivery of the program and larger emphasis on adoption. As individuals are important in IETF process, it asked from the program implementers to develop a greater understanding of the role of individual who is going to contribute in the IETF process, the collective beliefs one possesses, the world views on standards and standardization, the priorities of making a contribution as well as loyalties as time has to be taken out from different parts of day, personal and professional space for inching into this community.

Hence, the awareness sessions being carried out in the program focused on human concerns in the technical standard development process in IETF like. The workshops focused on societal benefits of collaborative work happening in IETF and remote participation was not hearing the speakers over Internet, but was a presence across the seas and directly learning from the activities therein.

A significant milestone for IICB program was in late 2016 when a community of technical researchers and academicians based out of 150 KMs from main city of Kolkata, at a place called Mallabhum wherein we had done our awareness sessions and workshops, proposed us their own plans of execution and the task at hand was now just to enable them. Since then they are moving out to do IETF awareness sessions, remotely logging on to IETF sessions, have created smaller sub groups to focus on specific areas of technology and following the debate in IETF mailing lists. Emboldened, one of the key movers is working to get his visa for his first physical participation in IETF in Chicago.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are open until 23th March
Find out more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

Barev dzez! You are listening to Radio MENQ. The voice of the visually impaired of Armenia.

Beyond the Net Journal: Armenia Chapter #3 Episode

When Armenia declared independence in 1991, the Internet access finally became available, allowing people to be part of the world again. The creation of an Internet Availability Center in 2012 (funded by Internet Society’s grant) at the Culture House for the Blind in Yerevan, triggered creative ideas among active members of the center.

They came to conclusion that an Internet radio station would be the greatest opportunity for helping the blind and visually impaired. The project started in January 2016 supported by the Internet Society’s Beyond the Net Funding Programme”. Today, it is a dream come true.

Radio MENQ (“We” in Armenian language) has become a platform empowering people with disabilities. The programming covers practical and psychological matters. Many artists and scientists with disabilities have been invited as guests to share their lived experiences. This radio station is opening up new horizons for the visually impaired and their families.

The project team is comprised of people with disabilities of various specialties. All of them are proficient in their areas and highly motivated in bringing change to people’s lives. Radio MENQ is contributing to the cultural and spiritual development of its audience through psychological advice, reading of prose and fairy tales for children, gaming competitions, and hours of music.

Just taking a look at some of the programs currently on air illustrates the important role this station plays:

  • “You can” – 13 episodes about people who are blind, from ancient to modern times, who demonstrated notable achievements, like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli, Diana Gurtskaya, Louis Braille
  • “Internet and the blind” – Opportunities and how to use them
  • “Psychology in life” – How to use internal resources to achieve goals
  • “Toward Independence” – Ways to improve self-dependence
  • “Problem and solution” – What role can visually-impaired people play in the society. The role of family and education in the process of socialization. How to overcome psychological barriers when searching for a job.
  • “Rights and privileges” – About legislative solutions for blind people
  •  “Loving a person” – How to destroy barriers in relationships
  •  “My Universities” – How to get a higher education and find a job
  • “Sports and We” –  Brilliant victories in Paralympics sports
  • “Learn to play Chess” – Lessons from the blind master Yura Awetisyan

Radio MENQ has been promoted through mass media, social networks and public events with the involvement of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia Republic. We are proud to say that the blog is getting up to 2,800 visits monthly, and a mobile application to reach a wider audience is in the pipeline.

In Armenia, the estimated number of blind and visually impaired people is 25,000 and in Diaspora 50,000. While the team was discussing ways to expand the project to Diaspora communities, they received this message from United States: “Barev dzez! My name is Laurel and I am a blind student studying at the University of Oklahoma. My instructor is Armenian, and I got inspired to learn Armenian as well. I found your radio station online. I love listening to your programs, and I use it to help teach myself Armenian. When I discovered how hard it was to read with a screen reader in Armenian, I thought why not do something. I am actually working on creating a project that could help blind people in Armenia, Georgia and Russia through technology and educational opportunities. I would really like to connect with the blind community in Armenia, and I plan to visit Yerevan in September.”

The famous blind pianist Levon Karapetyan, who used to move around with helpers, is another inspiring story. While he was in France for a study period he listened to Radio MENQ’s “Toward Independence” and he got very interested in self-development tools mentioned in the program. When he came back to Armenia he visited the station and asked the team to teach him how to use the white cane and other tips to move independently. The mobility training changed his life for the better. A special episode devoted to his experience will be broadcast in the future.

In addition to being a public health concern, blindness also has a great impact on the social and economic wellbeing of an individual. First efforts to educate the blind were attempted at the beginning of the 19th century thanks to the Louis Braille system. Until that time, blind people were considered mostly uneducable and untrainable. One of the worst stereotypes about blindness is the belief of that it limits to the kind of jobs you can do. Blind children acquire this sad way of thinking from society.

The radio station aims to raise awareness about how an appropriate environment can increase the ability of a person with disabilities to work independently and add value to society. After Radio MENQ went on air, many young people have started to learning how to be program presenters and sound technicians. The Armenian blind community is starting to break the stereotypes and prove they are able to work on equal footing.

This project is illustrating the power of the Internet in creating innovation and local solutions with global impact. Radio MENQ is becoming a reference for visually impaired people, also facilitating the collaboration and partnerships needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Watch the video and see the amazing job they are doing

Listen to Radio MENQ

This project is relevant to achieving the following SDGs goals:

More projects for the visually impaired:


Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are open until 23th March
Find out more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

Internet & Seniors. Falling in love with life again.

Beyond the Net Journal: Harlem – New York. Meeting Up With HICAP students after 6 years to recall how the Internet can change seniors lives for the better.

The Internet is able to keep seniors engaged in a variety of ways that were not imaginable a few decades ago. The Harlem Internet Computer Access Program, started in 2010 by the US New York Chapter and funded by a Community Grant, is still a shining example of how the Internet can be a great resource for seniors. The project provided Internet access and computer education to low-income, disabled senior citizens. HICAP’s impact to the Harlem community is still palpable. All participants, who attended to 80% of their classes and passed competency tests, now have computers and Internet access in their homes.

Merle Bush, the passionate computer instructor of HICAP, is firmly convicted about the need for seniors to be connected. Events like the death of a spouse or a medical recovery increase feelings of loneliness and depression. When living at home alone, life becomes smaller and options for socialization decrease. “Some people believe that when they become seniors, that’s the end of the line. ” Merle says. “The Internet is as good for them as it’s good for me, to see what’s going on in the world and to connect with friends and relatives”.

Merle takes pride opening up a whole new world of possibilities to people who may otherwise miss opportunities “Medicare, social benefits, paperwork, on line shopping, social media… these are all great things that seniors can do with what they learnt” she explains, “but this project has been more than imparting knowledge, we all gained lifelong relationships.”

The impact this project has made on seniors is unbelievable. An example is Ms. Barbara Stephens, who lives on the fourth floor and has a prosthetic foot. For a period of six weeks, the building’s elevator was being expanded for wheelchair access. So it was supposed to be wise suspending classes until the date of completion. All the tenants were offered $500 toward expenses and a six week hotel stay. But the students took a vote: they all wanted to stay and forgo the cash to attend class. They did not miss one session, including Ms. Barbara Stephens. Enjoy her dance at the end of our video….

Now Merle has a full-time job, but her students, including Barbara Stephens, Mamie Perfet, Joyce Walker, The Wu Family… they all keep in touch. We attended one of their meetings to hear from their voices how the project is still affecting their lives.

Watch the Video

Special thanks to Joly MacFie, President of US New York Chapter, for his kind collaboration.

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If you like this story please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

Do you have a great idea? We are interested in your project.

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $30,000 USD.

Find out more about Beyond the Net Funding Programme.
Categories
Human Rights Internet Governance

UNHRC Creates New UN Special Rapporteur on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”

Many of you might be interested to know that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has just adopted the establishment of a new UN Special Rapporteur on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”. A Resolution to this effect was in consideration at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council for the past 4 weeks, and the Internet Society was following these developments closely and engaging with stakeholders during the informal discussions.

Noteworthy, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur will include special consideration of issues related to the digital age and new technologies, including surveillance. This focus led to some arguments in the drafting sessions, but eventually the Resolution was adopted today without a vote.

This development is a direct follow-up to the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/166 from December 2014, led by Germany and Brazil, that asked the Council to consider the creation of such a mandate.

If the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression is any indication, we can expect this new independent expert to bring some useful human rights insights into some of the key privacy issues that affect people today, whether online or offline.

The text of the resolution establishing the mandate is currently available on the extranet of the HRC (Request the password from UNHRC).

We welcome the creation of this Special Rapporteur and look forward to working with the UNHRC, our community and others around the world to address these important issues around privacy.

Are you excited by this development?

Photo: IMG_1954″  © 2012 Tom Page CC BY-SA 2.0 CC BY-SA 2.0

Categories
Community Projects Growing the Internet Internet Governance IPv6 Women in Tech

Eleven New Projects Receive Community Grants Awards!

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.

Categories
Beyond the Net Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Women in Tech

Congratulations to the Latest Community Grant Recipients!

I’m so pleased to announce the latest recipients of Internet Society Community Grants.

These grants are awarded twice a year to Internet Society Members and Chapters. Each applicant must have a clear vision of how they want to use the Internet to bring positive change to their local communities. It’s about supporting innovation, change, and local solutions with global impact.

If you’d like to find out how to apply, you can read our Community Grants pages.

Please join me in congratulating this latest round of inspiring projects from our amazing global community of Members and Chapters.

What a difference you are all making.

1. e-Commerce content development and capacity building of indigenous Penans community in Sarawak

Project Leader: Tariq Zaman, Malaysia

The community in Long Lamai are mainly involved in subsistence farming, and like many other remote rural areas, find most of their young people moving away to urban centres. There is also a lack of awareness of the hidden assets that exist in the remote areas, such as flora and fauna, and the unique culture of Long Lamai.

This e-commerce project will leverage these assets by helping the community to develop and promote their handicrafts and homestays, and give the local people the skills to maintain the e-commerce website themselves. Ultimately, the project aims to generate new employment and reduce number of young people leaving these remote areas through the creation of social and economic opportunities.

2. Women experts in computer maintenance and Internet Security

Project leader: Sigrid Ortega, Bolivia

The project targets young women in the junior and senior levels of six high schools in Oruro, Bolivia. Through several workshops and courses, the aim is to enable girls and young women to learn computing, web-related technologies and issues related to Internet security. The successful students will be granted a certificate as Trained Technician on Maintenance of Laptops, Internet Security and Computer Networks.

The learned skills and knowledge will enable these young women to earn an income, create their own jobs, and find other employment opportunities, by unleashing their technological potential. At the same time, they will become agents and promoters of technological innovation and social change based on the principles of a responsible use of Internet.

3. Introduction and applications of the Internet for elementary students at PCS

Project Leader: Patrick Blank, Federated States of Micronesia

In the Federated States of Micronesia, only 5% of the population has access to the Internet. This project will see wireless Internet access points installed in an elementary school in Pohnpei. Moreover, the teachers will also be trained in using the Internet, and in turn they will use these resources in their curriculum. The ultimate goal is to create experienced Internet users and expand the use of the Internet, both inside and outside the classroom.

Not only will this project be a pilot project for other schools, but it will also be used as a test case of the sustainability of using the Internet in schools and it will highlight how underutilized the Internet is on the island.

4. Training on computer use and Internet access for women and girls in Vietnam

Project Leader: Ngo Thi Quynh Van, Vietnam

The Nghe An Public Library, a unit under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is the largest centre for information, education and entertainment of Nghe An province in Vietnam.

The main objective of the project is to develop and enhance the Internet literacy skills of women in rural areas, teaching them to use computers and navigate Internet, delivered through several educational courses.

5. ABC for Bangladesh

Project Leader: Monir Bhuiyan with support from ISOC Bangladesh Chapter

The aim of this project is to support and foster collaborations between the academic and business communities in Bangladesh. This project will help to connect academics and business people with research and contacts in fields including e-commerce, e-governance, and e-health.

6. Developing local contents for Boulkassoumbougou

Project Leader: Mamadou Diallo Iam, Mali Chapter

This initiative is the continuation of a successful project implemented in 2013 that connected a school group to the Internet.

In this second phase the project will develop educational content in the Bambara language. The ISOC Mali Chapter will work together with teachers from the school and with advisors of the education authorities to produce different lectures in the local language including grammar, reading, comprehension, as well as units on citizenship, environment, history, geography, science, math and technology. This work will help students in their learning process while contributing to the development of local language content on the Internet.

7. Soweto Wireless

Project Leader: Jabulani Vilakazi, South Africa Gauteng Chapter

Access to the Internet is a significant enabler of economic growth and human development, this project will create a wireless network that will give free and low-cost access to rural township and remote areas.

8. Orient and Rouse the Blind with Information Technology (ORBIT)

Project Leader: Hiwotu Teka, Ethiopia

This project aims to empower individuals with visual impairment to use a computer, the Internet and other technologies effectively. Skill training will be provided at selected schools for students and at the resource and training centre, equipped with adaptive technologies, as well as a variety of services like internet connection, e-library, audio-books, Braille and other general services.

9. Yemen e-Commerce

Project Leader: Ahmed Almarwani, Yemen Chapter

The project will be promoting e-commerce in Yemen, and boosting the confidence of the Yemeni community in the Internet as a means of purchasing and selling products and services using available online resources.

To achieve its goal, the project aims at providing training focusing on young Yemenis, preferably those who have a university degree, who are either unemployed or need an additional source of income and are eager to explore the various potentials of e-commerce to advance their careers. This project will help them develop skills through group training, seminars, and debates around what is needed to enhance the conditions for developing the e-commerce sector in Yemen.

 10. “TUJIUNGE” Unissons nous pour la disponibilisation de l’information à la communauté d’Uvira

Project Leader: Delu Lusambya, Democratic Republic of the Congo

This project involves the creation of a centre connected to the Internet for grouping, sharing and publication of information related to violence against women in the province of South Kivu, in the Democractic Republic of the Congo.

A resource centre will be set up, including 10 computers with Internet access, for sharing and publishing information around getting help for young women coping with violent situations in the Uvira community.

Categories
Community Projects Internet of Things (IoT) Technology

Internet of Things made fun at Bayanihan Creative Labs

On Thursday mornings, a dozen or so students from nearby colleges gather at the University of the Philippines’ Diliman Interactive Learning Center to tinker with bits of hardware for an hour or two. These hackathons are part of Bayanihan Cre@tive Labs, an initiative of Internet Society (ISOC) global member Nestor Tiglao. Nestor, who teaches electronics engineering at the same campus, received an Internet Society community grant to develop the makerspace group at the height of his research on wireless network system designs.

The term ‘Bayanihan’ refers to the traditional practice of cooperative work among villagers in the Philippines, and it is a well-appointed name for what the project wants to build: a community of like-minded people who come together to play with available technologies, and explore localised uses for machine-to-machine communication and other areas relevant to Internet of Things.

This week, the group was going to try to build prototypes of simple wireless detectors using Arduino starter kits and gas and alcohol sensors that Nestor had bought separately from a local shop. Liquefied petroleum gas is used popularly as cooking and transport fuel among local households, and gas sensors can be useful in detecting leakages and preventing accidental fires and explosions.

The group divided into pairs and began attaching the small sensors onto breadboards, quickly progressing into basic circuit wiring and a bit of coding to calibrate the sensors’ readings. In between, hackers were curiously crossing over to other pairs, consulting data sheets and googling tips on the Internet. By lunchtime, the group had several working gas and alcohol sensors, which they tested using a butane lighter that Nestor had borrowed from a colleague next door.

The project insists on utilising open source hardware and software for its activities. Arduino kits, for instance, are both reusable and customizable, and can thus be repurposed for various experiments. The group also uses Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized single-board computer developed by a foundation of the same name to promote basic computer science to young people.

As the makerspace is quite new, its activities remain informal, with both regulars and newcomers dipping into sessions on their free time. Most of the current participants are engineering students and interns in their late teens. Many are in their first year at university and hackathons such as this lets them play around with and find applications for the concepts they learn in the classroom.

The group itself is open access, and Nestor is keen on pulling in startups and institutions to take part in Bayanihan Labs. He hopes that such collaborative venues would encourage local scientists and entrepreneurs to innovate on existing technologies and catalyse the production of affordable IoT devices for the country. He also wants to bring the hackathons to secondary schools to pique young people’s interest in creating useful IoT devices from cheap and readily available materials.

In between physical meet-ups, the group continues to collaborate through their mailing list and make their hackathon outputs available online in their social media pages. This week’s output, they tell me, will be further enhanced in the coming sessions. The next step will be using a Wifi transceiver, or a wifly module, to transmit data generated by the sensors on to a designated server for aggregation. One of the end-goals is to send this data straight to the mobile phone as SMS. The group is also looking into other sensors to monitor environmental and health conditions—temperature, pollution levels, heartbeat—all crucial in a country that is prone to natural disasters, and where quality healthcare remains out of reach for most of the population.

More Information
Categories
Growing the Internet

Internet for Differently Abled Communities in Uganda

AfChix Uganda is a chapter of AfChix Africa, a network of women in technology started in 2004 with a mission to network with women and potential girls in computer science/ICT for purposes of supporting them to grow in their careers and to encourage young girls to take up ICT/Computer Science programs for their careers.

AfChix Uganda consists of a team of young girls and women engineers and computer science graduates.

During their research for the Grace Hopper Paper 2013, a team of four members (Software Engineering Students) from Makerere University chose to write about: “Mobile Experiences for the differently abled users” and the Uganda Society for the Deaf Vocational Training Institute was their major case study.

Through an interpreter, the team interacted with the deaf students who were in the computer lab and being their first time to interact with the deaf, they were surprised at the level of understanding by the deaf students. The students had amazing vocational skills yet there was need for them to make their products and services known to the world but the only difference here was the language; They were passionate about ICT but the computers that were considered to be working at the time were only four, very old models and according the school adminstration, and they were received in 2004!

As the team left after the research, we knew we could play a role in making their voices heard!

The starting point was when there was a call for proposal by Internet Society (ISOC). Being a member of ISOC, on behalf of the team, the project coordinator of AfChix Uganda wrote and submitted a proposal to ISOC for the same and the proposal was considered.

Our objective was to enhance the computer/ICT facility by providing 20 better computers and connecting them to the internet, provide training to the deaf students through the interpreters which will eventually allow the students to take advantage of the benefits that come with the internet and ICT in general.

After receiving the grant from ISOC, our project attracted a number of other partners who came on board and were willing to assist. Among these we have Orange Uganda who offered bandwidth and other accessories and Bank of Uganda who recently donated 10 computers to support the project.

The team already did the base line survey of the network, found out the level of understanding of ICT knowledge by the students, got quotations from over 10 potential suppliers and the selection committee chose the right suppliers who are now working on the network with our team. Due to the long procedures from the new donations from Bank of Uganda who kept us waiting for the computers, our work was slowed down and we are now only targetting to finish with the networking of the computers by first week of May.

Categories
Development Human Rights Women in Tech

Inspiring Change: Connecting the Chuuk Women's Council

The Chuuk Women’s Council is a 31-year-old community based organization on the Pacific island of Chuuk. It serves as the umbrella organization for 64 different women’s organizations Chuuk State Wide, Federated States of Micronesia, which promotes women’s leadership, education on health and gender issues, environmental conservation, and the preservation of traditional and cultural crafts.

Kiki Stinnett, President of the Chuuk’s Women’s Council, writes about the installation of an Computer Learning Lab, something that was made possible through the work of Professor Laura Hosman from the Illinois Institute of Technology and an Internet Society Community Grant.

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My name is Kiki Stinnett and I’m the President of the Chuuk Women’s Council, a registered NGO in the Federated States of Micronesia. 

Thirty-one years ago my mother and a group of local women started the CWC. They were mostly nurses and looking for a way to empower women in our community and promote healthier lifestyles.  While I decided to pursue a career in business, I still grew up influences by the CWC and over time it became a part of me.

When my mother passed away in 2009 I was elected President and have served the Chuuk Women’s Council in this capacity since her passing.

As an Islander I’ve always felt that being connected and staying connected with our culture and communities is important. Chuuk is a small island where women have a big voice and the ability to be heard on a wide range of issues.  We have a role to play in our part in the world which is very important.  

Finding affordable Internet or even a computer in Chuuk isn’t easy. Many people who don’t live on the capital island of Weno don’t even have electricity, let alone a computer. In the CWC offices, for example, we initially had only 1 computer and it was such a precious commodity only a few designated people were allowed to use it.

So when Laura Hosman approached us about building a computer lab I knew it would be a perfect fit within our organization, with our core staff, and enhance the work we are doing.

We installed the laptops in our sewing room. In the morning we sew and in the afternoon it’s our computer lab.  We don’t charge for the use of the computers or the access to the internet.   Anyone can come in and use one of the laptops and the Internet.

It’s been amazing to see the reaction. We have girls as young as 8 coming in to do their homework.  It’s a real change for them because many of our schools don’t even have computers and those that do are usually not connected to the internet.

I’m really excited to see these young girls and visitors do things like reports, research, and learn online.  I mean, instead of spending their time watching boxing or movies on TV they’re now doing something that they consider cool and it’s also applicable to their education.

I really feel that with enough exposure to the Internet and computers these girls could easily be inspired to go on towards being engineers or scientists.

But they aren’t the only ones. One of the oldest women who comes to our center to use our computer and internet is in her 50s.  Many of these young girls and older women can only communicate with their off island children and relatives through Facebook and our center provides them the means to keep up with their loved ones.

It’s also invaluable when we give health education classes. Imagine seeing a heart actually pumping blood instead of looking at still pictures of it in a book. It’s changed our world.

We also want to set up an online shop for all the crafts that women make for our gift shop.  All the proceeds for those sales will go to funding many of the programs we run through the center.

As mentioned earlier, the computers and the internet also help us keep in touch with friends and family who live in other parts of the world.  That is so important to us as many of our family members live in the United States. It’s amazing to be able to hear from them and let them know about our lives in the Islands.

We’re also very excited to announce that we recently received a grant from the Government of Japan to expand the CWC Facility to include a second floor. This addition will provide another 2,600 sq. feet of space and will mean we will soon have a full time, dedicated computer lab for people to use any time they want. 

Internet access and computers in the CWC are opening doors for our entire community and we’re so excited to see where this will take us.

We’re a small Island in Micronesia and because of the Internet we now know that there are people out there who are thinking about us.

What’s Next

The story of connecting the Chuuk Women’s Council isn’t over yet.  They’re currently looking to building a “Train the Trainer” program to improve the skills of those who are using the computer lab.  If you’d like to help you can contact the Women’s Council via their website or email them at cwcfiinchuuk@yahoo.com 

Find out more