Again in 2010, I conceptualised and began a pilot challenge to see how we might introduce Web connectivity to unserved and underserved rural areas. The ICT4D group – together with a variety of worldwide organisations – had been speaking about how getting individuals on-line might rework lives, however many of the options seemed to be both top-down or boiler-plated.

My concept was easy – work along with an area accomplice to discover a rural location the place getting individuals on-line might make a distinction, guarantee individuals from the group have been educated to function and preserve the community (somewhat than being depending on outsiders), use low-cost easy-to-find WiFi gear (so if issues break down, the closest city would have spares), after which prepare the group, empowering them to create and use varied digital providers. Primarily, this was a community for the individuals, by the individuals.

Photograph credit score: Digital Empowerment Basis

Thus was born our award-winning Wi-fi For Communities (W4C) initiative. We now have had an incredible quantity of success with the programme – having deployed and impressed actually tons of of networks in South Asia and helped join probably the most marginalised of communities. This has additionally turn into a worldwide programme for the Web Society – what’s now our Neighborhood Networks initiative – with deployments in all corners of the world.

Having a community is one factor however realizing what to do with it’s fairly one other. Because of this with our initiatives within the Asia-Pacific the emphasis has at all times been on how the group can use the purposes and providers the Web allows in order that they’ll enhance their socio-economic circumstances.

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Some say imitation is the sincerest type of flattery. And certainly, since our early work some 10 years in the past, many others (together with donor businesses) have gotten concerned to help this type of complementary native entry networks, and I take nice satisfaction in seeing how that has developed over time.

Tomorrow, along with our accomplice UN ESCAP, we’ll host the Asia-Pacific Neighborhood Networks Summit as a part of the Third Session of the Asia-Pacific Info Superhighway (AP-IS) Steering Committee Assembly.

This particular summit will carry collectively varied stakeholders to share their experiences and information on group networks and discover how we may help enhance the lives of individuals from our area. This work is in help of the AP-IS, a region-wide initiative endorsed by UN ESCAP member states, and specifically, the “Broadband for All” pillar of  the AP-IS that appears into methods of selling reasonably priced entry to underserved areas.

For me, it’s particularly pleasing to see how one thing that began as a small pilot challenge 10 years in the past has been capable of join the unconnected – and opened up a myriad of alternatives for socio-economic growth for individuals all throughout the globe.

Find out how group networks may help shut the digital divide.

Photograph credit score: Atul Loke/Panos Photos for Web Society