IoT solutions to help reduce human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka

The APNIC blog published yesterday an article written by Asanka Sayakkara, Assistant Lecturer at University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), about Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to deal with the problems that emerge from the interaction between humans-elephants.

From ISIF Asia, is really great to see how one of the organizations that received one of our first grants, continues to work on innovative solutions that use Internet technologies to address development problems. Kasun de Zoysa from UCSC worked back in 2010, on a Virtual IPv6 application test bed.

Asanka’s article as published at the APNIC blog is below and information about Kasun’s work is linked there. Hope you enjoy!

ISIF Secretariat


 

IoT solutions to help reduce human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka

IoT for elephants-human conflict

Human-elephant conflict is a very serious and destructive problem in rural Sri Lanka.

Each year, around 70 people are killed by elephants who wander into villages and farms in search of food; and nearly four times as many elephants are killed as a result.  Elephants wandering into farmland also damage crops.

Presenting at the Internet of Things (IoT) tutorial at the recent APNIC 42 conference held in Colombo Sri Lanka, Dr Kasun de Zoysa from the University of Colombo’s School of Computing, shared with attendees examples of how his team, in collaboration with Sweden’s Uppsala University, are employing simple IoT solutions to protect crops and both human and elephant lives.

“Different people have approached this problem in different ways: biologists and animal conservationists are trying their best to protect local habitats, and the government and villagers have built kilometres of electric fencing around their villages and farms,” says Kasun.

“Our approach seeks to complement these efforts by incorporating sensing and data processing technology.”

Such technologies include making electric fences smarter and improving elephant warning systems.

Smarter electric fences

Electric fencing is a common solution used to protect villagers from elephants, particularly farmlands bordering the jungle.

However, Kasun says elephants have learnt how to avoid electric fences and discovered ways to break them, making the practice less reliable.

Once broken, it takes a significant human effort to find the location of the breakage by walking along the fence wire several kilometers long under the threat of nearby wild elephants.

To overcome this, Kasun’s team have developed a cost-effective electric fence, with small IoT nodes placed along the wire that can communicate with each other using the same wire as the communication medium.

“Their packets are encoded into the high-voltage electric pulses in a way that enables us to identify which node is disconnected from the network,” says Kasun. “When a node is disconnected from the network (part of the fence is broken) we can send alerts to maintenance crews with the exact location of the breakage.”

Infrasonic elephant localization system

Kasun says that although this new system will help with alerting villagers to potential elephant intrusions, it is not by itself a sustainable solution to protect people’s lives.

“This is where our second approach comes in,” says Kasun. “We have been testing an infrasonic localization system to locate elephants.”

Elephants emit infrasonic (low frequency sounds) which travel further compared to audible frequencies. The system we are working on can accurately locate elephants in the area and alert people via various means including SMS alerts and social media.”

Kasun says that both the infrasonic elephant localization system and the smart electric fence are still in experimental stages; however, they plan to launch a pilot program in the coming months to evaluate their effectiveness.

“Success of this pilot deployment will provide us with the valuable information we need to complete this work and produce a cost-effective, open-source product that anybody can build.”

Read more about Kasun’s team’s preliminary work with infrasonic elephant localization systems.

 

Hear from Nancy, a woman entrepreneur transforming traditional art through technology

By Nancy Margried, Batik Fractal

Nancy working with a traditional artisan
Nancy working with a traditional artisan

As a woman entrepreneur in technology, I have a unique perspective on running the company. I believe in nurturing  and rely on my own organization’s strength on sustaining the business.

Commonly nowadays, as a startup, it is easy to be carried away on the trend where startups rely on investments to create traction or to scale-up and grow. I started my company with my two co-founders from scratch and decided to sustain the company on its own. Since the first time, rather than using investment money to gain traction, we rely on the trait of our product (jBatik Software) and our paying customers to grow our business. We realized that only if our customers happy with our service, will then our company be successful. In other words, our success is integrated with the success of our software users.

jBatik is a pattern generator software that we use to empower the traditional textile business in Indonesia. Our main customers are batik artisans where they use the software to create endless of new batik patterns to increase their productivity and of course, their profit. To date, there are more than 2,000 artisans who have been using our software which we reached out through direct training to the rural areas of the Indonesia, the places where they live. All of them are paying customers, and we are very happy to see that their income has increased 20-25% through the utilization of jBatik Software.

ISIF Asia Award has leveraged our business in term of visibility and credibility. The opportunity to network with the fellow ISIF winners has given me a better perspective and an improved point of view on addressing the pain points and needs of our beneficiaries, which are the traditional artisans. All of these are very important to continue and grow our social business. After winning the award, we have been able to improve our software training, reaching to more organizations to collaborate to acquiring new users within new strategies and we have successfully secured funding from Indonesia government to build new software to serve more traditional artisans.

Our work is far from perfect. With the focus on progress, we believe that collaboration is the key to our innovation. Only by collaborating with each stakeholder, then we can create a breakthrough to solve our problems.

By Robert Mitchell, APNIC

With nominations for the ISIF Asia Awards 2016 now open, we thought we’d check back with some of our previous award winners to understand how the award benefitted their projects and get some advice on what to include in your nominations.

Khairil Yusof is the cofounder and coordinator of the Sinar Project, which received an ISIF Asia Grant in 2013 in recognition of their work using open source technology and applications to systematically make important information public and more accessible to the Malaysian people.

Established in 2011, the Sinar Project aims to improve governance and encourage greater citizen involvement in the public affairs of the nation by making the Malaysian government more open, transparent and accountable.

Sinar project in action
Sinar project in action

What are the benefits of these kinds of Grants/Awards?

Here’s what Khairil had to say about ISIF Asia’s Grants and Awards:

These awards and grants recognize the difficult and highly technical work that a few civil society organizations do, which is often not understood or appreciated by other traditional awards or grants (for Rights) programs.

Also, being invited to an award ceremony at large event such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), provides you with lots of exposure in an environment where you can meet potential partners and donors that understand your work.

 

What were three key outcomes that the ISIF Asia Grant allowed you to achieve?

  1. The money from the Grant helped our part-time/volunteer effort to register as a proper organization.
  2. It also helped one of our founding members to work full time on funding applications.
  3. Attending the IGF in Turkey provided us with the opportunity to speak with potential donors, which eventually led to initial funding for the establishment of Malaysia’s first fledgling civic tech NGO, and allowed us to continue our work full time.

How has your project progressed after receiving the Grant?

The opportunity to showcase our work to donors led to further funding, which helped with consolidating open standards government data. In turn, this provided open data via REST APIs.

Other achievement include:

  • Powering Malaysia’s Open Parliament efforts [1,2] and the same in Myanmar [1, 2, 3]
  • Uncovering corruption and promoting transparency [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
  • A civil society led open data approach, combining civic tech and open data with traditional social audits
  • Starting a Digital Rights initiative backed by a team with technical capacity, and funded by Access. We are now building partnerships with the TOR Project to collect and report on network interference data and build Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) like alerts for digital rights incidents. We are also providing policy input on Internet and digital rights issues such as trade agreements

What should nominees include in their applications?

  1. Don’t be shy with sharing your methodology and the insights you’ve learned along the way, even if you might think it is trivial. If you’re a very technical team, run your methodology by non-technical friends or family members to get their insights. What you think is mundane, might be inspiring to others.
  2. Review all the outputs you have done; blogs, reports, software, photos, etc. If you’ve been passionately working on your ideas and project, you will be surprised at how much you have achieved. List the highlights in your proposal and reference the other outputs in an appendix or link.
  3. Do Google alerts for mentions and links to your project. It might feel a bit narcissistic, but again you might be surprised at who is referencing or mentioning your project internationally or is inspired by your project work.

ISIF Asia 2016 grant recipients announced!

ISIF Asia 2016 Grants

The first CERT in the Pacific, a Peering Strategy for the Pacific, and a mobile app reader to access books in Thailand’s Karen dialects are just some of the initiatives that will receive funding.

This year ISIF Asia will award its largest ever grants pool, across four categories, to support research and development of Internet technologies for the benefit of the Asia Pacific.

APNIC Internet Operations Research Grants

Around AUD 115,000 was awarded to support the following projects:

  • Realistic simulation of uncoded, coded and proxied Internet satellite links with a flexible hardware-based simulator. The University of Auckland, New Zealand. The main focus of this research is to establish realistic satellite simulator of UDP flows. It also automates experiments run on non-coded and coded configurations. The project builds upon a 2014 ISIF Asia grant to improve connectivity in the Pacific islands (see report).
  • Rapid detection of BGP anomalies. Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures (CAIA), Swinburne University of Technology, This research focuses on producing techniques for the real-time detection of different types of BGP anomalies that can be used by an operator. The evaluation of this tool will be carried out with a controlled testbed using BGP Replay Tool (BRT) to emulate past BGP events.
  • A Peering Strategy for the Pacific Islands. Telco2 Limited, New Zealand. This research continues and expands a set of Internet measurements of latency to Pacific Island telecommunications providers from various locations around the world, that when evaluated in conjunction with submarine cable availability, can be used to determine a metric for efficiency of transit that can be considered along with the economic impact of having an efficient transit. The measurements will be made available in real-time via a web interface to help operators, regulators, and funders understand the physical routing of network traffic, availability of content, and benefits of peering to improve availability, reachability and security of the Internet in the Asia Pacific region.

Internet Society Cybersecurity Grant

With the support from the Internet Society, one grant of AUD 56,000 was allocated for this category, plus additional Monitoring , Evaluation and Communications support valued at AUD 2,500 and a travel grant to participate at the Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico where they will be one of the speakers at the workshop “Cybersecurity – Initiatives in and by the Global South“.

  • Developing Tonga National CERT to the Department of Information & ICT under the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, Information, Communication, Disaster Management (MEIDECC), Tonga. The Tonga Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) launched recently, is the first national CERT in the Pacific region. Tonga CERT was launch with a long-term goal to expand its services to the greater Pacific once fully operational. Tonga CERT will conduct incident handling; perform vulnerability handling; and provide security consultation and advice. Read more from Andrew Toimoana, Director of MEIDECC, Tonga.

Community Impact Grant

The AUD 50,000 Community Impact Grant was awarded to:

  • Equal Access to the Information Society in Myanmar, the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, Myanmar. This project focuses on women and youth, and benefits 500 people through 20 libraries across the country. The curriculum, developed specifically for Myanmar, focuses on critical thinking in a digital environment of smartphones and tablets. It develops the skills of young female leaders by providing them with specialized information technology training, leadership and job skills, and opportunities to engage in critical public discussion. Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation will also participate in a three-week mentoring program in Singapore, facilitated by JFDI.Asia, valued at AUD 25,000 plus expenses during their stay.

Technical Innovation Grants

Just over 195,000 AUD was allocated to support five projects under the Technical Innovation category.

  • Khushi Baby, India. This project improves digital medical records for mothers and children by streamlining data collection, improving decision making in the field, aiding in district resource management, and delivering effective dialect-specific voice call reminders to mothers. Khushi Baby will also participate in a three-week mentoring program in Singapore, facilitated by JFDI.Asia, valued at AUD 25,000 plus expenses during their stay.

Four small technical innovation grants of up to AUD 30,000 were awarded to:

  • My Community Reader: a Mobile-First Distributed Translation Tool and Reader for Ethnic Minority Languages. The Asia Foundation, Thailand. This project will build, test, and deploy a tool to translate text into minority languages books, significantly expanding the available online library of digital and printable mother-tongue children’s books. It will also deliver a mobile app so people can search the library and download titles on local Android devices.
  • UAV-Aided Resilient Communications for Post Disaster Applications: Demonstrations and Proofs of Concept. Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. This project will design and demonstrate UAV-borne radio payloads as critical network nodes in the development of a post-disaster resilient, delay tolerant communications system, using both multi-rotor and fixed wing platforms with long range radio payload to demonstrate the concept. The UAV will act as data aggregators and wireless store-and-forward relays for collecting important information and providing connectivity to evacuation centers, ground teams and concerned agencies. Data can be gathered from multiple sources below and delivered to another ground team or to a central station, while it can use the wireless link to broadcast messages to the ground nodes. Relayed information can include survivor profiles, food supply audits, medicine requests, and images of victims. This system will be used to assist response team coordination, hasten rescue efforts, and deliver timely updates, among others.
  • Legalese. Legalese Pte. Ltd. Singapore. This is a web application that will enable the growing Asian population of first-time entrepreneurs and first-time investors to transact seed-stage financing with confidence and without expensive legal fees.  The app educates end-users about entrepreneurial finance, facilitates choosing and configuring investment agreements, manage signatures through to completion, and develops libraries of contract templates for Asian languages and Asian jurisdictions.
  • Deployment of Collaborative Modern HoneyNet to improve Regional Cybersecurity Landscape (CMoHN). Institute of Systems Engineering, Riphah International University, Pakistan. The project will deploy and establish the core skills required to manage and integrate different honeynets and design new honeypots for countering cyber-attacks. The project will connect with other honeynets in the region to form a regional collaborative honeynet network, and promote R&D activities to secure network infrastructure through publications and conducting community awareness seminars.

Seed Alliance completion report 2012-2015 published

Back in 2011, APNIC and LACNIC were interested to join efforts to strengthen their regional programs for Internet development. Both ISIF Asia and FRIDA had many stories to tell and supported many projects since they were established. Although they operated in different ways, there were several areas where collaboration was possible. As they discussed the benefits and challenges of a collaborative partnership, AFRINIC was also considering the possibility to establish its own program, so an idea started to take shape.

APNIC and LACNIC approached their main donor, IDRC, to explore possibilities for support such partnership. A whole year of negotiations, planning and strategizing followed, to align the objectives of these three Regional Internet Registries operating in very diverse regions, but with a common interest to give back to their communities, with those of IDRC. During the IGF 2011 in Nairobi (Kenya), a meeting was planned to discussed a final draft proposal document, cementing the idea of establishing a partnership to support valuable research and development initiatives that showcased innovation and technical knowledge, through Internet technologies, for social and economic development. The Alliance for Internet Development and Digital Innovation was born.

DSC00270
Laurent Elder from IDRC facilitating the conversation. From left to right: Phet Sayo & Fernando Perini (IDRC); Hisham Ibrahim, Adiel Akplogan & Vymala Thuron (AFRINIC); Paul Wilson & Louise Flynn (APNIC) and Alexandra Dans (LACNIC). Not in the photo, although attended the meeting were Raúl Echeberría (LACNIC) and Sylvia Cadena (APNIC)

 

The Seed Alliance started operating with contributions from all three RIRs and generous support from IDRC, and contributions from regional sponsors. The initiative attracted the interest of other players, looking for a way to talk about innovation, scale and growth on the Internet, from a regional perspective, to support social an economic development. To use technology for good, not necessarily for profit. A year later, the Seed Alliance hosted its first awards ceremony, at the IGF 2012 in Baku (Azerbaijan). By then, Sida, joined the alliance as a new funding partner and thanks to their generous support, the Seed Alliance started a three years program cycle, that concluded last year at the IGF 2015 in Joao Pessoa (Brazil).

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Raúl Echeberría (LACNIC), Paul Wilson (APNIC) and Anne-Rachel Inne (AFRINIC) welcome Jens Karberg (Sida) as a partner of the Seed Alliance at the awards ceremony at the IGF 2012 in Baku
2015 Awards
Seed Alliance partners, sponsors and supporters with FIRE, FRIDA and ISIF Asia awards winners at the awards ceremony 2015

This report, published on the Seed Alliance website, offers an overview of the Seed Alliance’s work completed under the three-year program cycle 2012-2015, funded by Sida and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) which supported a total of 116 projects across 57 economies for around US$ 2.2 million of funding in Grants and Awards throughout Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, helping to strengthen and promote the Information Society within these regions.

From 2012-2015 ISIF Asia was able to support  44 projects across 22 economies in the Asia Pacific region, 22 grants and 22 award winners. Besides direct funding for their projects, ISIF Asia recipients received many mentoring and networking opportunities that increased their knowledge, expanded their network of contacts and provided visibility to their work in a very competitive environment. Our lessons learned, recommendations and challenges are included in the report. As APNIC provided secretariat support to coordinate this three years cycle, we learned a lot about partnerships, about the ingenuity and innovative approaches that are born and bred in our region, about the challenges that the organization we support face. It is a incredibly lucky position to be: to be able to support ideas grow. We continue to do so!

We invite to download the report as well as explore the Seed Alliance website. More information about the report can be found here and the report can be downloaded here.

ISIF Asia Awards 2016: Nominations open until 15 September

At the ISIF Asia secretariat we get very excited this time of the year, when the call for nominations for our annual awards opens. It is a time where we can get to acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions that the Asia Pacific region makes to the future of the Internet. It reflects the name of our blog, Discover, where we seek new and exciting ideas that are changing lives and the way we do things through the power of the Internet.

Internet development innovation in the Asia Pacific cuts across many languages, many cultures and many issues that affect our communities.

Our Technical Innovation Award is looking to recognize those that have found creative ways to connect the unconnected; to lower costs and facilitate maintenance of Internet connections; to power networks using alternative fuels or making power consumption more efficient; to restore networks and Internet services after disasters; to design and develop devices that respond better to the region’s challenging weather patterns; to support specific services across overpopulated cities using IoT devices; to deploy and learn more about IPv6; to protect privacy and offer a safe Internet experience across this diverse and vast region.

Our Community Impact Award is looking to recognize other efforts that might not be so technical in nature, but that are changing the lives of women and girls across the region that are working on ICT, or tools that enhance democracy and transparency through open data and citizens participation, to protect the environment as well as those one developing applications and services that look to empower a community on their decision making, on their quest to overcome poverty.


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On the photo, ISIF Asia 2015 award winners with our partners and sponsors.

Technical innovation at the service of social change is our focus. Each of the awarded initiatives will receive a cash prize of AUD 3,000 plus a travel grant for a representative to attend the awards ceremony at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico in December 2016.

ISIF Asia has being hosting its awards ceremony at the IGF since 2011. The event offers a great opportunity to engage in the discussions about the future of the Internet in a very special space, where governments, academia, private sector, civil society and the technical community get together, with many networking opportunities to expand their professional network and promote their work.

In addition, one of the two projects awarded will receive AUD 1,000 as part of the Community Choice Award, given to the one with the highest number of votes from the community. Voting will be open from 16 September to 5 December 2016.

The awards will be granted to initiatives that have already been implemented or are in the final stages of implementation, and that are aligned with the funding categories and eligibility criteria.

Nominations close on 15 September 2016.

For more information about how to submit your award nomination for an ISIF Asia Award and to learn about previous winners, please visit: https://isif.asia/award

ISIF Asia largest ever grants funding pool: Apply now!

Really excited about the 386,000 reasons we have to celebrate and support Innovation on Internet development in the Asia Pacific. Thanks to the amazing support from APNIC, the Internet Society and the Canadian International Development Research Centre, ISIF Asia is launching today four new categories, with different types of funding support for research, technical innovation, community impact and cybersecurity. These four grants open simultaneously today until 31 May 2016 (midnight UTC).

From different angles and through different mechanisms, this largest ever pool of AUD 386,000 will support initiatives at different stages of development, that are using the Internet for social and economic development in the Asia Pacific. Projects that introduce, improve, and apply Internet technology for the benefit of the Asia Pacific community may be eligible for financial support in the following categories.

Get to know each one of these four categories and do your homework before your submit your application. Each one has a specific purpose and different support packages, because no one size fits all. Every idea needs a

APNIC Internet Operations Research Grants

The aim of the APNIC Internet Operations Research Grants is to support the development of a research community focused on improving the availability, reliability, and security of the Internet in the Asia Pacific.

The grants are open to researchers working on Internet operations, infrastructure and related protocols in areas such as:

– Network measurement and analysis
– IPv6 deployment
– BGP routing
– Network security
– Peering and interconnection

Public or private sector organizations, universities, research and development institutions and non-government organizations will be considered, with members of Network Operator Groups (NOGs), IXPs, root server operators, academics, and post-graduate students particularly encouraged to apply.

Applicants can apply for funding between AUD 5,000 to AUD 45,000 based on research needs, a realistic timeframe, and a detailed budget. AUD 90,000 is available in total to fund successful applications.

Internet Society Cybersecurity Grant

A single grant of AUD 56,000 is available for a project focusing on the resiliency and security of the Internet’s naming and routing functions, through innovative approaches to Domain Name Security Extensions (DNSSEC), RPKI and BGP. These approaches should enhance user confidence in Internet-based services and options for the deployment of secure routing standards.

Strong emphasis is placed on documenting impacts and sharing knowledge through papers, videos, and associated communication materials.

Community Impact Grants

Innovation and development are integral components of these grants, with AUD 60,000 available to fund two new projects and a single grant of AUD 50,000 to scale up an existing solution. The organization selected under the scale-up grant will also receive a capacity building package valued at AUD 10,000.

Areas of focus for this grant include women and girls in IT, enhancing democracy, open data, economic empowerment, poverty alleviation health and education.

Technical Innovation Grants

Innovation and development are integral components of these grants, with AUD 60,000 available to fund two new projects and a single grant of AUD 50,000 to scale up an existing solution. The organization selected under the scale-up grant will also receive a capacity building package valued at AUD 10,000.

Areas of focus include access provision, electricity supplies, devices, Internet of Things (IoT), IPv6, and privacy.

Apply Now

The ISIF Asia grant programs present a great opportunity to secure seed or supporting funds for those who are addressing local and regional issues using Internet technologies in an innovative way, and would not
be made possible without contributions from APNIC, the Internet Society and the Canadian International Development Research Centre.

Please note, all grant allocations are competitive and follow a rigorous selection process.

More information, eligibility criteria for each grant program, and application forms are available on the ISIF Asia website.

2015: a year in review

2015 has been a busy year of the ISIF Asia program with awards, grants and capacity building activities been supported around the Asia Pacific region. Here is a summary of what we have done in 2015.

ISIF Asia Awards 2015

The Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Awards seek to acknowledge the important contributions ICT innovators have made to their communities, by addressing social and development challenges using the Internet. The Awards recognize projects that have already been implemented, or are in the final stages of implementation, and have been successful in addressing their communities’ needs.

During 2015, 5 awards of AUD 3000 were given to very interesting projects from India, Indonesia and Pakistan covering very relevant issues were Internet technologies make a difference for community development, such as citizens participation to improve public infrastructure in India; bridging fractal algorithms with traditional batik design in Indonesia; supporting female doctors in Pakistan to access the workforce; mapping diseases in rural areas of Pakistan. 5 award winners were selected out of the 78 nominations received from 12 economies across the region.

  1. Innovation on access provision: doctHERs – Pakistan, NAYA JEEVAN / http://www.docthers.com
  2. Code for the common good: Batik Fractal – Indonesia, Piksel Indonesia Company / http://www.batikfractal.com
  3. Innovation on learning and localization: Jaroka Mobile Based Tele-Healthcare – Pakistan, UM Healthcare Trust / http://www.umtrust.org
  4. Rights: I Change My City – India, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy / http://www.ichangemycity.com
  5. Community Choice Award: I Change My City – India, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy / http://www.ichangemycity.com

This year was particularly interesting to receive an application from China, for the very first time since the inception of the ISIF Asia program. 31 applications were accepted for the selection process and are publicly available for anyone interested to learn more about the ingenuity and practical approaches that originate from our region. 16 applications were selected as finalists for full review. When the final selection of the 4 award winners was completed, the process was opened for the community to cast their vote to select the Community Choice Award winner, selected with 426 valid votes. Besides the cash prize, the award winners were invited to attend the 10th Internet Governance Forum (Joao Pessoa, Brazil, 10-13 November 2015) were the awards ceremony took place. The full video of the awards proceedings is below:

 

Internet Governance Forum participation

As part of the Seed Alliance support, ISIF Asia led the development of a workshop proposal that was accepted by the MAG for inclusion in the official IGF program. A follow-up of the work conducted during the IGF in Bali and the IGF in Istanbul the workshop No. 219 “Addressing funding challenges for continuous innovation” to understand how funding for Internet innovation operates, how the Internet community respond to those challenges, as well as explore solutions together. In light of the publication of the new Sustainable Development Goals in August 2015, the workshop also explored the link between funding opportunities to achieve Goal #9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation” where 9c set the objective of “Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020”.  The workshop speakers were Jens Karberg (Sida), Laurent Elder (IDRC), Paul Wilson (APNIC) and Vint Cerf (Google). You can follow the workshop on the video below:

Capacity Building Fund

During 2015, ISIF recipients benefited from additional support through the Capacity building fund to promote the results of their ISIF supported projects at 9 international events that have raised their profile which open doors to negotiate additional support for their projects through a stronger and wider network of contacts, as follows:

  1. 10th Internet Governance Forum. 10-13 November 2015. Joao Pessoa, Brazil
  2. APNIC 40. 3 Sep 2015 to 10 Sep 2015. Jakarta, Indonesia
  3. COHRED Forum 2015. 24 Aug 2015 to 27 Aug 2015. Manila, Philippines
  4. WiSATS 2015. 6 Jul 2015 to 7 Jul 2015. Bradford, United Kingdom
  5. APrIGF 2015. 30 Jun 2015 to 3 Jul 2015. Macau, Macau
  6. RightsCon. 24 May 2015 to 25 May 2015. Manila, Philippines
  7. ICTD 2015. 15 May 2015 to 18 May 2015. Singapore City, Singapore
  8. AVPN 2015 Conference. 20 Apr 2015 to 23 Apr 2015. Singapore City, Singapore
  9. APNIC 39.  24 Feb 2015 to 6 Mar 2015. Fukuoka, Japan
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Additionally, a “Mentoring workshop on evaluation and research communications” was provided for 2014 grant recipient Operation ASHA for the project “Linking TB with technology” from 23 Mar 2015 to 26 Mar 2015 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where Sonal Zaveri and Vira Ramelan provided mentoring to Jacqueline Chen and Vin “Charlie” Samnang for the eDetection app project to provide training on U-FE and ResCom concepts, refine key evaluation questions and draft plans for communications strategy.

On top of these face-to-face opportunities, ISIF provided access to the JFDI.Asia pre-accelerator course from August to November 2015, providing 60 accounts for ISIF recipients to join in teams the course. JFDI was founded in Singapore in 2010 by Hugh Mason and Wong Meng Weng. The community has since helped thousands of people in Asia to engineer innovative businesses around their ideas. They can do this because innovation is evolving from an art into a science, and because we have built a community who share their expertise and experience turning ideas into reality. The 60 teams are all ISIF Asia funding winners seeking to accelerate their learning and thereby scale and grow the impact of their ideas.

Site visits

The site visits allowed ISIF Asia to gain a deeper understanding of: 1) the context in which the supported organization operates, partnerships with other organizations and relationships with project beneficiaries; 2) the problematic that the project addressed; 3) the solution proposed; 4) the results that the project achieved and 5) the challenges the organizations face for future development.  The site visits were documenting using photographs, videos, and blog articles. The visits were not only informative about the challenging contexts that these 2 projects operate but were also inspiring, as what can be achieved when talented and highly committed professionals, put their knowledge and effort to good use, for the benefit of disadvantaged communities. During 2015, ISIF Asia visited:

  • iSolutions. Aug 2015. Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.
  • Access Health International. Mar 2015. Manila, The Philippines
  • Operation ASHA. Mar 2015 to Mar 2015. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

2014 grants completed!

During 2015, we have seen the completion of most of the 2014 grant recipients. Projects addressed development problems and demonstrated the transformative role the Internet can have in emerging economies. This summary of 2014 grant recipients and their projects are examples of the kind of partnerships that ISIF encourages and supports.

  • The Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society – PICISOC in collaboration with University of Auckland (Pacific Islands) worked to improving Internet Connectivity in Pacific Island countries with network coded TCP with deployments in several islands of the Pacific with very positive and encouraging measurements for future development.
  • The Punjabi University, Patiala (India) completed their project to overcome the barriers that Sindhi Arabic and Devnagri scripts posed for researchers. They have completed the transliteration tables for both scripts and millions of words have being input into the database which is now on their final version.
  • The Cook Islands Internet Action Group (Cook Islands) has released the Maori Database app, website and social media page that has raised attention from the local media and interest from the local government to preserve the language.
  • CoralWatch, The University of Queensland (Australia/Indonesia) finalized their mobile app in Bahasa-Indonesia and English to improve citizen science monitoring of coral reefs in Indonesia
  • The Internet Education and Research Laboratory, Asian Institute of Technology, in collaboration with the Mirror Foundation and the THNIC Foundation (Thailand) deployed Chiang-Rai MeshTV: An Educational Video-on-Demand (E-VoD) System for a Rural Hill-Tribe Village via a Community Wireless Mesh Network (CWMN). The Chiang-Rai community has now a fully operational mesh network that streams educational videos for learning development over a community wireless network, increasing their access to educational content fit for a low literacy context motivating families to support their kids to keep on their learning path.
  • The Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations – ISITI-CoERI. (Malaysia) continued their research in and develop a game to digitalize and preserve Oro, a secret signage language of the nomadic Penans in the rainforest in Malaysia. Their efforts have allowed to document traditional knowledge from the elders and making it relevant for the younger generations.
  • iSolutions (Micronesia) deployed the Chuuk State Solar Server Education Hub, through a scale-up grant, following the deployment of the PISCES project support in 2013 to connect schools to the Internet in Chuuk. The solar server education hub connects schools to educational content and share communications capabilities, lowering the cost by rationalizing the use of their limited broadband connections and using solar energy.
  • Nazdeek, in collaboration with PAHJRA and ICAAD has introduced a different approach on how to improve maternal health in India. They are using SMS technologies liked to online mapping to increase accountability in delivery of maternal health services. Their approach allows Adivasi tea garden workers in Assam to understand their rights and how to claim the benefits they are entitled to.
  • The ECHO app from eHomemakers in Malaysia received an award in 2012 for their work to support workingwomen in Malaysia to communicate and coordinate better when they work from home. In 2014 they received a scale-up grant replicate their experience in support to Homenet in Indonesia.
  • The University of Engineering and Technology and Vietnam National University are working on better systems for monitoring and early warning of landslides in Vietnam.
  • Operation ASHA successes in India, have inspired this scale-up grant to support the deployment of an application to monitor TB in Cambodia and support the work that healthworkers do to contain the spread of the disease and provide adequate follow-up for patients. They developed the eDetection app and improved diagnostics to reduce the spread of TB in Cambodia.
  • BAPSI has completed training and testing the development of Morse code-based applications to provide deaf-blind people with the opportunity to use mobile phones to better communicate with those around them that do not know sign-language.

2015 supported projects are well under way!

The selection for the 2015 grant recipients was also completed and 4 projects have received support. Their progress reports are starting to flow in, and they will reach completion during the first semester of 2016.

  1. Development of mobile phone based telemedicine system with interfaced diagnostic equipment for essential healthcare in rural areas of Low Resource Countries. Department of Biomedical Physics and Technology. University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  2. Deployment of a Community based Hybrid Wireless Network Using TV White Space and Wi-Fi Spectrum in Remote Valleys around Manaslu Himalaya. E-Networking Research and Development. Nepal
  3. Improved Carrier Access in Rural Emergencies (ICARE). Innovadors Lab Pvt Ltd and School of Computer and Information Science, IGNOU. India
  4. A Peering Strategy for the Pacific Islands. Network Startup Resource Center and Telco2. Pacific Islands

The Discovery Asia blog

44 new articles have been published this year, to highlight the talent, skills and commitment that the Asia Pacific region has to offer, continues to raise attention to the vibrant community we serve, their needs and their innovative approaches to solve development problems using the Internet for the benefit of their communities. We encourage you to share your stories. It has been a busy year, and we look forward for new challenges during 2016! We look forward to complete 100 articles soon!

Seed Alliance end of a 3 year cycle

The three years grants from IDRC and Sida that made the collaboration with FIRE and FRIDA programs possible has come to a close during the 10th IGF in Brazil, where the Seed Alliance website was launched. The website provides a comprehensive view of the work that IDRC and Sida’s funds have made possible supporting 116 projects from 57 economies. It has allocated around US$ 2.2 million of funding in Grants and Awards throughout Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, helping to strengthen and promote the Information Society within these regions through 102 opportunities for networking, outreach, evaluation and/or capacity building. The website will be officially launched in February 2016, but we invite you all to explore it!

New funding confirmed for project implementation and more grants in 2016! 

After a successful external evaluation process commissioned by IDRC and a new proposal negotiation as part of the Seed Alliance activities, ISIF Asia has received renewed funding commitment from IDRC for 2016 and 2017. A new call for grants will open early in 2016 to which APNIC has renewed its commitment as well. In addition, the Internet Society has decided to increase their funding contribution to ISIF Asia and fund a full grant, more details about this will be shared earlier in 2016.

The selection process for the 2015 round is currently under way, with 60K AUD to contribute towards research in our region. And finally, APNIC has renewed the funding for the Internet Operations Research Grants 2016.

We thank all our partners and sponsors for their renewed support!

ISIF Asia Award Winners for 2015 announced and Community Choice Award open

The Awards recognize initiatives from organizations that have already been implemented, or are in the final stages of implementation, and have been successful in addressing their communities’ needs.

During the 2015 call for nominations, four award winners were selected out of the 78 nominations received across four categories, covering 12 economies in the Asia Pacific. Proposals from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand were assessed by the Selection Committee.

The commitment and continuous support from the Selection Committee to choose the best projects is key to provide legitimacy to this award. We thank Phet Sayo (IDRC), Gaurab Raj Upadhaya (APNIC EC), Rajnesh Singh (Internet Society), Edmon Chung (Dot Asia Organization), George Michaelson (APNIC staff), and David Rowe (ROWETEL, former ISIF Asia grant recipient) for their time, their comments and their eye for detail.

Each winner has received a cash prize of AUD 3,000 to support their work and a travel grant for a project representative to participate at the 10th Internet Governance Forum (Joao Pessoa, Brazil – November 2015) to participate at the awards ceremony, showcase their project, make new professional contacts, and participate in discussions about the future of the Internet.

This year was particularly interesting to receive an application from China, for the very first time since the inception of the ISIF Asia program.

31 applications were accepted for the selection process and are publicly available for anyone interested to learn more about the ingenuity and practical approaches that originate from our region. 16 applications were selected as finalists.

53% for nominations came from private sector and social enterprises, 24% from non-profits, 13% from the academic sector and 10% from government agencies.

The category that received more applications was Innovation on learning and localization with 38%, followed by Code for the common good with 28%, Rights 24% and Innovation on access provision 9%.

86% of the nominated projects are lead by men, only 14% lead by women.

One winner was awarded for each category, three from non-profits and one from private sector and three projects will be represented by women at the Awards Ceremony.

One of the four award winners will receive the Community Choice Award, an additional AUD 1000 for the project with more online votes from the community. The online vote opened on 9 September until 9 November. The winner of the Community Choice Award will be announced at the Awards ceremony. Cast your vote and support the winners!

DocHers  Batik Fractal  Jaroka  I change my city

Awards winners were selected in four categories, as follows:

  • Innovation on access provision: doctHERs – Pakistan, NAYA JEEVAN. doctHERs is a novel healthcare marketplace that connects home-restricted female doctors to millions of underserved patients in real-time while leveraging technology. doctHERs circumvents socio-cultural barriers that restrict women to their homes, while correcting two market failures: access to quality healthcare and women’s inclusion in the workforce. doctHERs leapfrogs traditional market approaches to healthcare delivery and drives innovative, sytems change.
  • Code for the common good: Batik Fractal – Indonesia, Piksel Indonesia Company. Piksel Indonesia is creative social enterprise founded in 2007 and registered as legal entity in 2009. Piksel Indonesia is the creator of Batik Fractal and jBatik Software. Through a yearlong research about batik and science, we then developed a modeling software application to create batik design generatively and presented the innovation in 10th Generative Art International Conference in Milan Italy. In 2008, this innovation funded by Business Innovation Fund SENADA USAID and created jBatik v.1 and focus to empower batik artisans in Bandung. Since that time, Piksel Indonesia is working to empower batik and craft artisans in all Indonesia especially in Java and Bali. Currently, we have trained around 1400 artisans to use jBatik software. The training was firstly organized by the local government in each rural area and villages where batik artisans usually live. As an innovation, the use of the software into traditional art needs intensive training and continued the effort. Through several training levels in mastering the use of jBatik software, the artisans can incorporate technology to develop their traditional craft work. The artisans are not only now have access to affordable technology and use the technology to develop their batik, but also have been proven to contribute to increase productivity, bring more sales and increase their profit which lead to improved income.
  • Innovation on learning and localization: Jaroka Mobile Based Tele-Healthcare – Pakistan, UM Healthcare Trust. We aim to devise newer and effective ways for bringing a rapid change in healthcare domain for rural communities. We have launched Jaroka to lower the cost of delivering care dramatically by leveraging ICT to deliver the scarcest resource, medical expertise, remotely. Jaroka Tele-Healthcare model utilizes internet and mobile platform to extend tele-healthcare services in rural Pakistan. This includes voice, Short Text Messaging (SMS),Multimedia Messaging (MMS),GPRS/Edge and VSAT to quickly and efficiently extend medical advice to Rural Health Workers (RHWs) in the field by connecting them to our network of specialists in cities and abroad. This model also includes Pakistan’s First Health Map through which the latest and live healthcare information is shared with relevant stakeholder across Pakistan to improve the healthcare in Pakistan.Through this project over 130,000 has been provided treated at hospitals and in fields.
  • Rights: I Change My City – India, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy. Ichangemycity.com is a hyper-local social change network that has created communities of citizens in Bengaluru, keen on solving city centric problems and has resolved around 10,000 complaints by connecting them to various government agencies. The site has tried to help solve issues ranging from garbage collection, poor street lighting, potholes and security related issue in the suburbs. It has also provided citizens with useful information on how much funds have been allocated to wards and constituencies and how the same has been uitilised. The unique power of ichangemycity.com is that it networks people locally to address issues of common concerns. It connects people on-line to bring them together off-line for civic engagement on the ground. The multiplicity of various government departments and the paperwork involved acts as a deterrent for many individuals to connect with civic agencies. Ichangemycity.com tries to address this problem by being a seamless bridge between government and citizens. Ichangemycity.com works on the 4C mantra- Complaint, Community, Connect, and Content.

ISIF Asia and the business of scale: 60 teams on JFDI.Asia pre-accelerator course!

“Talent is universal, opportunity is not” said Megan Smith, US Chief Technology Officer and former Google.org vice-president. ISIF Asia is about giving opportunities to those that have the talent, the ideas and the strength to make them happen. But as the path for each one of the ISIF supported projects is different, as their context and the challenges they faced, the opportunities we seek to provide are thought to open new ones, to get out of the comfort zone and try something different, to see if “that” is what it takes for a great idea, to be a reality, that is shared and valued by communities around the Asia Pacific. Is not all about the market, or about been the “next big thing” on the Internet, is about making sure that ideas supported have a better chance to have a positive impact in the real world. It can be a more progressive policy move, an Internet-powered social movement, content or services that fill in a gap, a need. And we want to be there to help them to “get there”!

ISIF Asia former and current funding recipients have fascinating stories to tell about what they have done and what they dream to do, like the ones below:

  • Amakomaya is an Android application developed for rural pregnant women of Nepal. The application provides localized information relating to the prenatal, natal and postnatal periods of pregnancy.
  • Cook Islands Maori Database is an online resource for Maori Words, their English translations with example usage in a sentence in both English and Maori, that offers a platform on which other applications can be built to preserve the language and promote its use. The team developed an android and IOS application, as well as teaching and learning resources for both teachers and student to facilitate integration of the tools into Maori lessons.
  • Sinar’s main objective is to improve governance and encourage greater citizen involvement in the public affairs of the nation by making the Malaysian Government more open, transparent and accountable. They have developed a suite of applications for citizens to get involved.
  • BAPSI has developed solutions to help deaf-blind people access mobile phones as the solutions available for the blind (voice recognition), are of no use for the deaf and vice versa (voice to text conversions).

So, we are very excited to share the good news that thanks to the support from our donors, IDRC and Sida, and in collaboration with JFDI.Asia, it was announced that 60 ISIF Asia supported teams will join the JFDI Discover pre-accelerator program where they will learn to apply the powerful startup tools and techniques taught through the 21-day JFDI Discover pre-accelerator program. The aim is to give them confidence and evidence to answer the key questions that angel investors, accelerators, and government agencies are certain to ask them, such as: “Who is your customer?”, “What problem are you solving for them?” and “Has this team got what it takes to succeed?”. JFDI CEO Hugh Mason said, “Achieving positive impact with a startup is not easy in many parts of Asia. Alongside the impact, we want to help these teams to think about how they can become commercially sustainable to ensure that their good work continues long into the future. There is a lot to learn and share and we have every confidence that long-term collaborations and friendships will grow from this program, creating wealth for the 56 Asia-Pacific economies ISIF Asia covers and beyond.”

We had the opportunity to visit JFDI.Asia a few months ago, as ISIF Asia participated at the ICTD conference. We were invited to attend their Open House and we saw how this is really a “community of people who practice, finance and teach innovation” as they described them selves. We are very happy to have found a partner that believes that “innovation need not be a mystery and entrepreneurship should not be painful or lonely. Both can be learned, working with peers and guided by mentors”. We hope this is the first step to a closer collaboration in the future. As not all ISIF supported projects are start-ups, this course will be offered as a first step to find out if the path of entrepreneurship is one that suits them. More information about the platform is here http://www.jfdi.asia/discover.Once they have completed the pre-accelerator course, they can consider to enroll in the accelerator boot camp http://www.jfdi.asia/accelerate, which is a 100 days commitment. Check the video below for an introduction!