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 Digital Opportunity through Technology & Communication Partnerships

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DOT-COM/InterAction Speaker Series:
Connectivity in Low Resource Environments

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Connectivity in Low Resource Environments
When you deploy to the field, how do you effectively use technology when the infrastructure for it barely exists? What are the connectivity challenges in using technology in low resource environments? What tools are used in providing connectivity in the field? What are the innovations to be aware of? And what solutions have others successfully implemented?

Dipak Basu: NetHope
Executive Director, NetHope
Senior Manager, Customer Program Management Office, Cisco Systems

PRESENTATION: NetHope: Applying the Internet for Lasting Change Nethope.pps MS PPT 991K.

SUMMARY: Dipak Basu described NetHope, the IT solutions consortium of international NGOs who work in the poorest regions of the world, and its experience in finding connectivity solutions for development professionals in such areas as Iraq and Afghanistan.

ABOUT DIPAK BASU: Dipak Basu, Executive Director for NetHope, is a veteran of the telecommunications and computer networking with 25 years experience in consulting, marketing and engineering. Mr. Basu has spent much of his life employing technology to enact lasting change worldwide. Since 2001 Mr. Basu has led the effort to create NetHope, a consortium of nine of the world's largest non-profit development organizations that are dedicated to using technology to enhance humanitarian operations in the world's neediest areas.

Robert Bortner
Project Co-ordinator, Greenstar South Africa, Greenstar Brasil

PRESENTATION: Using ICT in a Low Resource Environment: so what good is ICT? Greenstar.pps MS PPT 6MB.

SUMMARY: Robert Bortner described the Greenstar model of using solar powered community centers in the most rural of areas to promote cultural and economic development. Through a combination of solar panels, VSATs, spread-spectrum digital radio, or conventioanl cellular connection, these centers provide their communities with electricity, water purification, communications, education, and support for telemedicine and local employment.

ABOUT ROBERT BORTNER: Bob Bortner, the Project Coordinator for Greenstar South Africa and Greenstar Brasil, is skilled in international business management strategy, technology access and utilization, with expertise in cross-cultural people skills and database design. Working with Greenstar since late 2001, Bob has engaged multiple public and private-sector partners in a planning effort for Greenstar investments in South Africa and Brazil. He has helped to establish the business case for programs in the village of Kgautswane, Limpopo Province, and to identify how Greenstar will participate in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Over the past couple of years, Bob has also assisted with the utilization of IT in a number of development efforts including Tarahaat in India, Fundação Pensamento Digital in Porto Alegre Brazil and Digital Partners in the US.

George Scharffenberger
Vice President, International, Voxiva

PRESENTATION: Connectivity in Low Resource Environments voxiva.pps MS PPT 2.99 MB.

SUMMARY: George Scharffenberger described a number of best practices in approaching connectivity and ICT issues in developing countries. He reviewed the integrated technology model that Voxiva uses, including a combination of telephones and the Internet for data transmission of disease surveillance information.

ABOUT GEORGE SCHARFFENBERGER: George Scharffenberger, Vice President International, Voxiva, brings 30 years of experience in international development work, including overseas assignments in Madagascar, Senegal, The Gambia, and Morocco. Over the past decade his work has emphasized organizational and institutional capacity building and particularly the use of technology and the development of information-based networks. Prior to Voxiva, Mr. Scharffenberger was President and CEO of Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), an international not-for-profit organization specializing in information, communications, and enterprise development. Previously he was Vice President for Pact where he designed a methodology for community information / communications assessments and led assessment teams to Timbuktu, Mali and in the Gobi region of Mongolia.

Dr. Michael L. Best
Research Scientist, MIT Media Laboratory
Visiting Assistant Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the College of Computing at Georgia Tech

PRESENTATION: Connectivity in Low Resource Environments: terrestrial wireless technologies & policies MikeB.pps MS PPT 5MB.

SUMMARY: Dr Best described the three keys to connectivity: low-cost technologies (including terrestrial wireless), micro and small enterprises, and a supportive public policy. He outlined the current wireless technology available for local connectivity, described his experience in India using small and medium enterprises to deliver telephony and Internet access to local communities, and addressed the need for supportive public policy to allow these types of interventions to succeed.

ABOUT MIKE BEST: Dr. Michael L. Best is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Information Technologies and International Development published by the MIT Press. Dr Best's research focuses on the role of computers and communication in social and economic development. In particular, he studies the Internet and Internet enabled services in least developed countries of Africa and South Asia. His current projects are examining innovations in terrestrial wireless infrastructure (such as WiFi), the role of sustainable energy sources for rural Internet, and new technologies and policies to support rural Internet telephony. Michael's work encompasses the engineering of new technologies, public policy interventions, as well as social and economic assessments.

Dr. Dennis Foote (Moderator)
Vice President, The Academy for Educational Development
Program Director, dot-ORG

ABOUT DENNIS FOOTE: Dr. Dennis Foote is vice president at the Academy for Educational Development and the director of dot-ORG, one of the three programs of the USAID funded DOT-COM Alliance. He is responsible for project implementation and business development in the areas of access to and applications of ICT for development interventions in this globally focused program. Previously, Dr. Foote was Director of the USAID-funded LearnLink program, with diverse ICT for educational development activities in Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central America, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Morocco, Namibia, Paraguay, Romania and Uganda. His previous professional positions include the President at the Applied Communication Technology in California, where he oversaw all aspects of program planning and implementation, general management, and business development for the corporation. He received his Ph.D. in communication research from Stanford University.

Post-Event Discussion on Global Knowledge Discussion List
Following the DOT-COM/InterAction Speaker Series: Connectivity in Low Resource Environments event on September 24, 2003, DOT-COM and InterAction are hosting a month long follow-up discussion on GKD, starting October 27, examining the practical approaches to bringing ICT connectivity to poor, rural and other un and under-served communities.

To Join the Discussion

The agenda for this topic (October 27- November 21, 2003) will focus on:
  1. Learning about activities bringing connectivity to un or under-served communities
  2. Examining how much bandwidth is necessary to have an impact, and why
  3. Identifying models that can and should be brought to scale
  4. Exploring what's on the horizon...and where we want to go over the next 3 years
A White Paper citing the cases, projects, experience, success stories, and recommendations presented by discussion members will be widely circulated throughout the development community. We encourage all discussion members to participate and share their experience and knowledge regarding:
  1. Policies, strategies, tools, and partnerships to extend connectivity to un-served communities
  2. Case studies, projects, achievements, challenges and lessons learned
  3. Success stories of efforts that have overcome challenges and effectively expanded connectivity in low-resource environments
To Join the Discussion

DOT-COM/InterAction ICT Speaker Series Background
The DOT-COM/InterAction ICT Speaker Series, funded by USAID (DOT-COM) and the Markle Foundation (InterAction ICT Working Group), is intended to explore ways in which Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) impact development efforts.

The main goals of the speaker series include sharing information about innovative and effective uses of technology in development efforts, building a community around a broad spectrum of information technology interests, and exploring gaps and challenges to effective implementation and use of technologies in our work.

If you have questions or comments, please email Siobhan Green, Information and Dissemination Coordinator, DOT-COM Alliance, .

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