The Internet: It's not all bad

Published at Dec 20, 2019, in Technology

The Internet has copped a pasting recently. Most notably due to companies like Facebook angering all and sundry in its fight for or against free speech - whatever it feels like on the day.

It was highlighted by Sacha Baron Cohen's elegant takedown a couple of weeks ago.

However, when used properly by companies the internet can be a good thing.

For instance, new Internet Society Foundation has issued its first set of medium and large grants (ranging from US$12,000 to US$30,000 each) to 13 ground-breaking projects that seek to spread the benefits of the Internet around the world.

The Internet Society established the Internet Society Foundation to fund projects that will improve the quality of people’s lives everywhere. The Foundation awards grants to Internet Society Chapters as well as non-profit organisations and individuals dedicated to providing meaningful access to an open, globally connected and trusted Internet for everyone.

Of the more than 40 applications received this year, 13 projects were selected by a committee that evaluated projects based on criteria that included originality and innovation, community impact and sustainability and technical feasibility, among others.

Projects that were selected for grants:

  • $29,828 to create a community-controlled technology facility enabling residents in Harlem, New York to use the Internet to produce and stream news and informational programming for and about their community. This will provide a needed facility for an underserved population that has historically been denied significant opportunities to create and distribute positive media content and tell their own stories. It is estimated that nearly 50% of New York’s public housing population do not have Internet access at home.
  • $25,000 for a project in Turkey to raise a generation of digital citizens who do not participate in hate speech or cyber-bullying. This will be done through an online platform, seminars, workshops, videos and platforms in seven regions of Turkey.
  • $30,000 to establish an innovative, open-source, solar-powered community network in an underserved rural area of the Caribbean island of Dominica, whose broadband connectivity was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. With resilience in mind, the new network is designed to be easily removed and redeployed before/after a storm.
  • $29,050 to identify, evaluate, label and network smart-city projects and initiatives in Québec, Canada. The project will develop a diagnostic and decision-making tool, create a web platform to share smart city initiatives and best practices through a labelling competition, and organise a conference for elected officials and local actors involved in smart cities.
  • $30,000 to create Wi-Fi access points and an off-the-grid Media Center within the Mamaila Tribal Authority, South Africa. The project will also build community capacity through training on cybersecurity, content development, entrepreneurship, and the construction, operation and maintenance of community networks.
  • $15,000 to provide Internet skills training in Armenia for un- or under-connected groups of people (people with disabilities, retired athletes, pensioners and jobless school graduates). The project will boost Internet literacy and social media skills, while providing training on online job-searching and how to set up small businesses.
  • $15,000 to install a solar-powered community network in a mountainous region of southwestern Paraguay, where expensive mobile data is the only way many residents can currently access the Internet. Wireless connection will be installed at three local schools, teachers will receive technical training, and community workshops will be offered on local content production.
  • $15,000 will go towards strengthening the engagement and participation of data users in policymaking in Hong Kong, using Hong Kong’s Open Data Index, initiated in September 2018 to examine data openness and introduce best practices.
  • $12,322 will go towards creating community networks for 5,000 people in three remote farming communities and awareness-raising in Madagascar. The project will also provide technical training and basic Internet skills to a group of people who will train others to use the Internet.
  • $25,000 for an online privacy and security campaign in Portugal that aims to raise awareness among kids, tweens, teens and young adults.
  • $13,800 for a project to upgrade Internet infrastructure in five high schools on Nicaragua’s southern coast – a region with a 14% Internet penetration rate and a 50% school dropout rate. The project will install fiber-optic Internet and high-speed Ethernet technology, outfit schools with a portable network, and provide Internet training for more sustainable communities.
  • $30,000 to generate reliable statistical data on Internet use in Mali, in particular on the use/misuse of social media, which has become popular in both rural and urban areas.
  • $30,000 for a project through the Internet Society Chapter in Switzerland, to create an urban laboratory for collective learning and outreach as a platform to engage experts and the general public on important issues of digital self-defense, with a special focus on privacy and security.

The Internet Society Foundation provides grants to the Internet community, Internet Society Chapters, non-profits and individuals working on one or more of the following program areas:

  • Initiatives that build community capacity to access and benefit from the Internet (including digital literacy skills, reaching unconnected populations, awareness-raising and local content-production);
  • Initiatives that respond to natural disasters;
  • Opportunities for research across technical, economic and public policy topics;
  • Initiatives that demonstrate innovative techniques to advance an Internet for all; and
  • Local and regional projects supported by ISOC’s nearly 140 Chapters (Beyond the Net).

The Internet Society Foundation will launch its next call for grant applications in early 2020. More information on future calls for grants can be found at: https://www.isocfoundation.org/grant-programmes/.

See, it's not all bad.


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