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W5: Artful Integrations of Infrastructures by Community-Based Telecoms

FAV HS 3, Favoritenstr. 9-11, Ground Floor, Room: HHEG01

This workshop considers the experiences of communities that own and operate their own telecommunications systems. We will reflect on what communities do to tackle the infrastructures, or taken for granted arrangements, that are embedded in and affect deploying and adopting telecoms. Infrastructures include all sorts of social, technical, political, legal, administrative, methodological and institutional structures and processes; and communities often devise ways to compensate for their weaknesses in local telecom projects. Communities have, for instance, tackled policy infrastructures, because laws do not support their telecoms; social norms that unconsciously govern people’s participation; and, academic research conventions. We propose that community-based telecoms, from community Wi-Fi to radio integrate infrastructures to align with community values, and this workshop seeks to learn from each other’s experiences.

Saturday 1 June 2019

People

Organisers

  • Nicola J. Bidwell - International University of Management, Namibia
  • Melissa Densmore - University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Andre van Zyl - OVCOMM cooperative, Ocean View, South Africa
  • Sarbani Banerjee Belur - Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • Nicolas Pace - Association for Progressive Communications and Altermundi, Argentina

Workshop Hosts

Melissa and Andre, Cape Town @ iNethi project

iNethi is a wireless community services platform, designed to allow community members to build their own services, and to promote networked communica- tion and content sharing within the community, to be accessed through a hybrid wireless mesh network that uses WiFi and TVWS. Our goal is to build more re- silient communities by using information technologies to help them tap into local creativity, innovation, and other resources, with an eye towards improve- ment of socio-economic status.

https://www.inethi.org.za/

Michael, Myanmar @ Asorcom Wi-Fi Community Networks

Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM) was formed on the 9th April 2013 by a group of SCYNO – Siyin-Chin Youth Network Organization and the Siyin Project who were eager to help & develop the community they have grown up and familiar with the needs within. Their experience together with the information available and working with the community closely to provide an outcome that will impact and change the community to a better a sustainable society.

https://asorcom.net/

Sarbani and Dinesh, Karnataka, India @ Janastu Community Radio

Janastu, a non-profit organisation, has been providing Free Open source Soft- ware Solutions and support (FOSS) to small non-profits (NPOs/NGOs) since 2002. This includes one-on-one consulting regarding their information man- agement needs, building their online and offline knowledge bases, providing support to their projects by designing web-sites, configuring news-filters, help- ing them migrate to open source solutions, help deal with localization and In- dian language issues, geographic information collection and necessary R&D.

https://janastu.org/home/index.html#/about-us

Angie and William, Colombia @ Colnodo Community Networks in Colombia*

Colnodo is an association of non-profit non-governmental organisations found- ed in 1994. Its goal is to facilitate communication and the exchange of infor- mation and experiences among Colombian social organisations at the local, na- tional and international level through low-cost electronic networks. In pursuing this goal, Colnodo has developed programmes that place priority on issues such as human rights, women’s empowerment, governability, democracy and public participation, sustainable development, the democratisation of knowledge, digital inclusion and the strategic use of ICTs for development.

https://www.colnodo.apc.org/

Monday 3 June 2019

Activities

  • Local Discussions and organise breakouts
  • Remote Break away (B1)
    • Problems faced by community based telecoms
  • Local Reflections on break away discussions
  • Remote Break away (B2)
    • Strategies employed by community based telecoms
  • Local Reflections on break away discussions
  • Remote Closing plenary
  • Local Summary

Remote break away channels

  1. Technical equipment, community participation, local content and funding - Indonesia https://meet.jit.si/artful1
  2. Gender and mesh radio: class, caste and patriarchy - India https://meet.jit.si/artful2
  3. Legislation, bureaucracy and research collaboration - South Africa https://meet.jit.si/artful3
  4. Accessibility, energy, climate, free software, post- conflict and peace - Colombia https://meet.jit.si/artful4

check-ins from Myanmar, India, South Africa and Colombia and now discussing problems in community based telecoms

Check-ins from Myanmar, India, South Africa and Colombia and now discussing problems in community based telecoms

Panels with remotely located NGOs and Researchers in Developing Contexts

Panels with remotely located NGOs and Researchers in Developing Contexts

Remote Break away - Problems faced by community based telecoms

Connecting with groups in Colombia to discuss accessibility, energy, climate and usage of free software

*Connecting with groups in Colombia to discuss accessibility, energy, climate and usage of free software

As well as case studies from Myanmar on technical equipment for local networks and community participation / Legislation, bureaucracy, ethics and unavailability of FM in South Africa / and questions of gender and mesh radios in a class, caste and patriarchal system in India*

Video conferencing with Michael from Myanmar discussion of technical infrastructure of community radio. Their activity often seen as subversive and illegal by government...

Video conferencing with Michael from Myanmar discussion of technical infrastructure of community radio. Their activity often seen as subversive and illegal by government...

Discussing next steps and key learnings with the other venues (Myanmar, South Africa, Colombia)

Discussing next steps and key learnings with the other venues (Myanmar, South Africa, Colombia)

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Outcomes

3 key take-aways:

  • Build trust with community first and find out their needs -> Build a relationship before introducing output deadlines
  • Provide a space for the community to explore your provided options for their own benefit
  • We as academics often do not recognise innovation happening in the community, but we need to enable innovation with our project

Selfie with all of the workshop participants in Vienna

Tuesday 4 June 2019