Last week, we had an opportunity to participate and discuss with other internet creators and practitioners in Geneva, at the Internet Governance Forum. Since there were numerous parallel tracks, I followed and participated in those tracks related to access, digital inclusion, policy, and privacy. I tweeted live from the event (#IGF2017), and there are the main lessons and thoughts that came out to the surface (many of them, again, for years now):
- Technology is personal, and political.
- We need to unpack power structures in technology, digital security, and usage.
- Basic literacy training with respect to how to use computers and basic applications with computers and basic applications on the Internet.
- Digital literacy is a key pillar in terms of opportunities and barriers, of privacy and security online. It’s not just about the usage, also about the awareness and engagement with the local communities.
- Digital skills and awareness are needed not only in underdeveloped countries – also – in developed countries.
- We need good practices for the safer online environment -> our entire educational system has to start early on what they hear and see in an online sphere.
I am so excited – the conceptual artist and illustrator from Belgium, Nima Nilian, approached to me the other day and showed me the illustration/cartoon he made of me geeking out/working on my computer, and asked for permission to publish it online. I can’t get over how multi-talented this artist is and how honored I am. This illustration is so cute, be sure to check out all his work at Artstation.
It’s been over a month since the Digi project inception meeting in Oslo. Those who missed my previous posts on this, in a nutshell: the Non-discriminating access for Digital Inclusion (DigI) project is a three year project, running from 2017–2020 with the main objective to establish pilots for the InfoInternet access in DRC Congo and Tanzania. The project was founded by the Research Council of Norway as part of the Visjon2030 portfolje. R&I work related to the pilots will prove business profitability for commercial establishment of the InfoInternet as an independent and self-sustainable ICT and communication infrastructure for digital inclusion.
The project vision on free access to information for everyone’ is realised in Tanzania through the intervention free access to digital health information and in DRC through free access to information as basis for digital economy.
The assumption of the project is that information uptake will
- lead to knowledge update, both for health education and for school education;
- prepare the ground for digital literacy;
- contribute to better health for humans and animals; and will
- foster societal growth both in terms of digital entrepreneurship and the overall economy.
We approach the vision of the design of new technology, the InfoInternet, providing hot-spots with free access to information both on user devices (BYOD) and on tablets. Through the hot-spots, we address availability and affordability. The hot-spots themselves will create jobs related to the digital economy (e.g. voucher sales), and are the entry points for other actors supporting information access, e.g. sponsoring Internet Access through advertisements.
This is what happened in Oslo. Day one of the kick-off meeting happened at UNIK, in Kjeller where the first internet in Europe came in 1973. Beside the meeting and presentations I followed, I had a pretty hectic day: it was a deadline day for the Marie Curie project proposal I was applying for (note to self — never, never ever wait the last minute for a deadline or submit three minutes before servers are closing down the submission form). Bernard Ngowi from the National Centre for Medical Research, in Tanzania, presented Digital Health for Africa, and experiences from Tanzania [click here to see the presentation]. Andrea Winkler from University of Oslo talked about Germany-Norway collaboration and Centre for Global Health [click to open], and Erwan Le Quentrec from Orange presented Economic Development using Mobile Phone can transform social development into cooperation and co-development [click to open].
Afterwards, we drove to Oslo marina and from there, our group took a boat through the fjord into the beautiful nature and green area by the sea, to the peninsula of Nesodden where we had a lovely dinner in a rustic boathouse in Flaskebekk. It was so fun and adventurous to go through the fjord and drive the boat (thanks Josef for letting me navigate and not ruin your boat and keeping the team alive on the surface). After the dinner and some frolics, I returned to the city by ferry, it was already late at night.
Day two of the Digi meeting started with the identification of topics and next steps, and planning and scheduling for Tanzania and Congo. Actually, we brainstormed and discussed all day, it was inspiring and interactive; we checked out the solar panel pilot at the gazebo, a health and village platform we plan for the rural areas in Tanzania. Also, we set up the future analogue meetings in the next couple of years. My tasks include digital literacy exploration and KPI, Uptake of Digital Health Information, Technology acceptance and User acceptance, etc. Everything is collaborative work and I’m very happy and grateful to work with amazing colleagues from different disciplines.
See you next time with the new Digi project letters from Tanzania, Berlin, and Paris.
Background: Agenda 2030
The United Nations have established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing 17 goals with a total of 169 targets. Given the ongoing development, it is obvious that development need digital inclusion, and the transformation towards digital societies.
Basis for digital societies is information for all, and the digital access. Given that roughly 4 billion people (status 2016) are not connected to the Internet, the first focus is ‘Goal 9 on sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. We see that target 9.C Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020 is directly addressed through the InfoInternet standard on free access to information for all.
My colleagues and I, at the Basic Internet Foundation, invited 9 partners for the DigI activity “Non-discriminating access for digital inclusion”, with the goal of piloting digital health in Tanzania (TZ) and the digital ecosystem in Congo (DRC). The Research Council of Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are supporting this pilot.
As part of the activities, the consortium has established a pilot installation of a village hot-spot for digital health, and is now planning the Connectivity of the 4 pilot villages in TZ and the villages Kano and Palu in DRC. During the pilot, we identified the need for cost-effective infrastructures in the villages. Regarding connectivity, we have standardised on cost-effective equipment from Mikrotik and Witelcom.
However, we have seen the need for a village server and an IoT gateway. We envision student work or hackathons to establish the infrastructure for sustainable development.
We currently discuss a “village platform” as the digital hub for the remote villages. Goal of this hackathon would be to establish a low-power community server for a village of 2.000 – 10.000 people. Given the costs of communication and electricity, we envisage:
- a low-power (<50W) platform for storage of local video information
- PoE or solar-powered operation
- server for local community content
- social network platform for the village society
- cache server for network content
- low-cost server
Hackathon: IoT home platform
Goal of this hackathon or student work is to establish a low-cost IoT gateway, first of all controlling the power from the solar panel, charging of battery, and priority of attached devices. Current low-cost solar regulators have no Internet connectivity, thus remote configuration and assistance is not possible.
The goal of the implementation would include:
- a solar charge regulator for panels up to 1000 W
- communication interface, typically Ethernet or Wifi based
- controlling of produced energy, consumed energy (e.g. USB), batteri status
- interface towards IoT devices, e.g. controlling other IoT devices
Both hackathons are done in collaboration with industry (Eye Networks, Witelcom, IPXextenso), the Partners of Partners of DigI, and the University of Oslo.
Goal of this hackathon is showcasing the talents of women and girls in coding and software development, and encouraging them to become involved in the world of technology through the creation of solutions using technology. This hackathon is expected to attract women in Africa who are already in a technology-related field, and who are helping other women. The goals of this hackathon are:
- coming up with solutions affecting societal problems and women today in Africa. Solutions such as: inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (SDG 4), including girls development, women’s health, and assisting rural women to upskill.
- one day “Digital media literacy” workshops on the following topics: 1) Bridging the gender divide on the internet, 2) How to use social media to address digital inequality, 3) education and leadership for girls and women.
- helping women and girls in science.