Keynote Gary Chapman
Professor Gary Chapman LBJ School of Public Affairs
â€śCommunity Wireless Around the Worldâ€?
Innovations are being implemented across the world to connect those to the Internet who are not already already online. The distribution of users across places like Africa and Latin America represent the smallest number of current Internet users but also represent the most explosive growth of new users. Where the US has 2% of new users in 2006-2007, India alone represents 33% of new users and China over 20%. These new Internet markets are creating new demand patterns. Wi-Fi â€śtreesâ€? (literally placed in the tree-tops) powered by generators are examples of the infrastructure being installed in remote places like Laos.
New devices like personal Internet Communicators (PIC), One Laptop Per Child , and Intelâ€™s World Ahead Laptop (prototype only) will become important in emerging markets. Extremely small CPUâ€™s designed to run on photovoltaics, car batteries and in environmentâ€™s that may be harsh are being developed for these devices are those who make around $1000 per year.
The Arid lands Information Network, implemented in East Africa uses MP3 files distributed to low power radio stations to broadcast educational programming to remote areas. Solar powered [ Green WiFi ]created a solar powered Wi-Fi units with battery back-up for remote areas. Data Mules a â€śWi-Fi Pony Expressâ€? uses a Wi-Fi box mounted to a motorcycle that visits remote villages deliver downloads and collect uploads that are then driven to a local hub to be delivered to the Internet. [ First Mile Solutions Asynchronous internet connections by motorbike, boat, bus.]
Software innovations are changing the availability of connections in remote areas as well. Icon based software for ULPC units allow users to see what others are doing without language. Ubunto ] is a R and D lab for the developing world that uses a Linux to create open source applications for emerging online markets. [ Sugar Interface ]
A demand driver in Uganda is Voice Over IP where telephones are scarce. Those without mobile phones sometimes need to travel two days to the nearest phone. Voice-over-IP offers a practical way to address the deficiency of telephones in rural areas. Internet access offers other services: agricultural pricing and weather information to rural farming communities; churches are creating small micro-financed banks to finance entrepreneurs in an emerging craft industry. Community radio using small digital recorders turn neighbors into citizen journalists.[ New Economic Plan for African Development ]
Disaster situations in the United States create the need to use technologies seen in the developing world. Katrina refugees in Texas needed infrastructure like medical services and communication services let alone showers. FEMA required that all refugees interact with the administration only through the Internet, so besides hardware and software many refugees needed computer training. As hardware became available to the refugees Findersites to help locate other family members also became available. Peoplefinder International of Beaumont TX, manually crated a database of all those missing worldwide. Solar powered Voice-over IP was also implement in gulf to help refugees connect. The applications used in the developing world also become applicable in the United States.