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A Framework for Information Access in Rural and Remote Communities

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Access to information is predicated on the access to a digital infrastructure. However, access to electricity and the Internet remain elusive for a significant percentage of the world's population, let alone a sustainable access in one’s local language, local context, and relating to local culture. This paper examines the issues of resource constraints, and proposes a framework to classify them. It then proceeds to utilize this framework to look at three different case studies of implementations of offline Internet access in Madagascar, Jamaica and India.

Presented at IEEE ISTAS 2016. http://istas2016.org

Published in: Internet
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A Framework for Information Access in Rural and Remote Communities

  1. 1. A Framework for Information Access in Rural and Remote Communities. Presented at: ISTAS 2016 October 20-22, 2016 Trivandrum, Kerala, India Sameer Verma, Ph.D. Professor, Information Systems San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA 94132 USA
  2. 2. Sameer Verma, Ph.D. sverma@sfsu.edu ● Professor, Information Systems ● College of Business ● Interests: Access to Information, Remote/offline networks, Free and Open Source Software, Digital Commons, Open Data.
  3. 3. John P. Ryan, Ph.D. john@peoplecentered.net
  4. 4. Introduction ● Universal access to the Internet – Tool for empowering – Take ownership – Build capability and capacity ● Analyze very specific, but central problems in the field ● Propose a framework – Access to electricity – Access to the Internet ● Three case studies – Madagascar, Jamaica, India
  5. 5. Access to Information ● The limited scalability of analog access ● 48.6% of the world's population is connected ● Internet access is not a binary variable (yes/no) – Throughput, latency, etc. ● High variance in use cases – Email, Web, Netflix
  6. 6. Access to Electricity ● 1.2 billion people live without any form of electricity – South Sudan is at 5.06% – Samoa sits at 100% ● Rural electrification rate sits at 67% – Latin America: 85% – Africa: 26%
  7. 7. Devices ● Low-powered mobile devices – Smartphones – Tablets ● Year-on-Year (YoY) growth of 9.8% in 2015 (1.43 billion units shipped) ● Expect to ship 1.86 billion units in 2019 ● Estimated mobile devices worldwide: 4.61 billion units
  8. 8. Framework Electricity Internet
  9. 9. Framework Electricity Internet
  10. 10. Case Studies ● Madagascar – Town of Maroantsetra in eastern Madagascar. – Surrounding rural villages not on the electrical grid. – Non-traditional power sources such as water turbines, solar panels and diesel generators.
  11. 11. Madagascar: Location
  12. 12. Madagascar: Server
  13. 13. Content Delivery ● Pathagar (http://pathagar.info) – Python Django – Embedded database – OPDS: Open Publication and Distribution System ● Malagasy and French
  14. 14. Case Studies ● Jamaica – Primary school in August Town, a small town on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. – On electrical grid. – Single DSL line. Not reliable.
  15. 15. Jamaica: Location
  16. 16. Jamaica: Server
  17. 17. Jamaica: Content Delivery ● Pathagar (http://pathagar.info) – Python Django – OPDS: Open Publication and Distribution System ● Moodle – Learning Management System – Class-based materials
  18. 18. Case Studies ● India – Bhagmalpur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, India. ● Hundred kilometers north of Varanasi. – Unreliable electrical grid. ● Solar + diesel generators. – Unreliable Internet access. ● 2G/3G dongle.
  19. 19. India: Location
  20. 20. India: Server
  21. 21. India: Server
  22. 22. India: Content Delivery ● Wikipedia ● TED Talks ● Khan Academy ● Openstreetmap ● Project Gutenberg ● Audio/Music ● Pathagar 1TB hard drive for offline content
  23. 23. Framework Electricity Internet
  24. 24. Conclusion ● Begin with the use case. ● Examine access to electricity. ● Examine access to the Internet. ● Select network infrastructure technology. ● Select content delivery technology accordingly. ● Focus on off-the-shelf equipment. ● Focus on Commons licensing.
  25. 25. Future Scope ● Community participation ● Learning analytics
  26. 26. Community participation Bailey, A., McNaughton, M., Muschette, N. and Verma, S. (2015) The Role of ICTs in Early Childhood Education in Jamaica: Early Observations from a One Laptop per Child Pilot Project. Caribbean Journal of Education. Vol 37, No. 1
  27. 27. Analytics - XOVis
  28. 28. Eventual Consistency Cloud Micro-Cloud Micro-Cloud Micro-Cloud CouchDB CouchDB CouchDB CouchDB Incremental replication
  29. 29. XOVis: Quest for Data
  30. 30. Workshop Sameer Verma sverma@sfsu.edu Anish Mangal anishmg@umich.edu Leh, Ladakh. Perhaps the highest solar-powered offline content service.
  31. 31. Thank you

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