APAN 46 Best Student Paper Award Went to ISIF Asia Alumni

Lei Qian, team member of ISIF Asia 2017 Grant recipient – Coding Internet satellite links for better goodput under bandwidth and latency constraints, was awarded APAN 46 Best Student Paper at Auckland, New Zealand.

APAN (Asia Pacific Advanced Network) meeting and research workshops provide global research and education networks with an environment to exchange research ideas, best practices, and real-life applications in the broad field of all working groups under APAN. In APAN 46 in 2018, Best Student Paper was selected based on the technical merit and significance of the paper. Lei Qian presented in the research workshop to introduce their project ‘Stimulating Satellite Internet Performance on a Small Island’ and went home with the Best Student Paper Award. His presentation slides can be found here.

Leading by Dr. Ulrich Speidel, the ‘Satellite Internet’ project focused on establishing realistic satellite simulator of UDP flows, and automated experiments run on non-coded and coded configurations in small remote islands at South Pacific. This satellite simulator is able to improve the dominant Internet transport protocol TCP that usually underperforms in remote islands. To find more details about their project on the technical side, read their paper submitted to APAN 46.

The Final Technical Report for their ISIF Asia 2017 grant was published in January 2019. It builds on their previous work also funded by ISIF Asia during 2016 and 2014 (download reports in PDF). To learn more about the work of the Systems Development and Evaluation Group of the Computer Science Department at the University of Auckland, follow their blog.

Drawing Synergies Between Community Networks and Community Radios – ISIF Asia Sponsored CNX 2018

In October 2018, Internet Society (ISOC) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) concluded the 2nd edition of the Community Network Xchange (CNX) 2018 event in New Delhi, India. ISIF Asia honoured to be one of the sponsors, CNX 2018 events focused on ‘Synergies Between Community Networks and Community Radios in Promoting Public Wi-Fi Access in Asia Pacific Countries’ and welcomed representation from nine countries in Asia Pacific, and more than 30 community network providers, community radio stations and practitioners across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Argentina, and South Africa.

The representative Ronel Vincent from ISIF Asia 2018 Award winner, University of the Philippines, attended CNX 2018. “Our recognition at the 2018 Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF) Asia Award for Community Networks inspired us to continue our work in this space and to collaborate to other community networks all over the world,” said Ronel Vincent. “Representing the team and the Philippines, CNX 2018 was a great venue to share best practices, ideas and possible issues regarding community networks. The possibility to connect rural sites to community radios was also discussed in the exchange,” he added.

Community Networks are communications infrastructure that are built, managed and used by local communities to provide a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps in remote areas. So far, DEF has established community networks at more than 140 locations across 15 regions, including Baran in Rajasthan, Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Nuh in Haryana, Asoor in Tamil Nadu, Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh and Nagaon in Assam. The Community Network Exchange event launched as a platform to promote the creation and growth of Community Networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in the region, and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders such as content producers, regulators and policymakers.

CNX 2018 also followed by Digital Citizen Summit (DCS) 2018, and an immersive training on Community Wireless Networks in Guna, as part of Community Network Champions (CNC) program. CNC is a certificate programme for community network providers across the globe to gain hands-on experience in the operation and management of community networks.

ISIF Asia Alumni Are Getting Recognised For Their Great Work

ISIF Asia former award and grant recipients recently won prestigious international recognition, giving the credit to their continuous dedication of time and effort to empower disadvantaged communities.

Vashkar Bhattacharjee of YPSA Bangladesh, ISIF Asia 2014 Award winner, has been awarded UNESCO/Emir Al Ahmad al Jaber Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2018 at UNESCO, Paris, France on Monday, 3 December 2018. This Global prize was given to him in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the empowerment of persons with disabilities through the application of ICT to access information and knowledge. This is the first time a Bangladeshi has received the prestigious award, according to press release of Bangladesh Embassy. Vashkar’s project introduction can be found on ISIF Asia website here

At the 3rd Commonwealth Digital Health Awards 2018 held at Colombo on 12 October, ISIF Asia 2015 Grantee – ‘Telemedicine Program’ of Dhaka University won the Award in Telemedicine category for their outstanding contribution to develop healthcare quality in rural areas of Bangladesh. Director of the program, Dr. Khondkar Siddique-e Rabbani, received the award on behalf of DU. The Telemedicine Program is being conducted by the Department of Biomedical Physics and Technology of Dhaka University. They developed low-cost Telemedicine systems with diagnostic equipment to facilitate the healthcare in low-resource rural areas in Bangladesh. Refer to their technical report on ISIF Asia website here to know more about their outstanding project.

Two tools available for network operators for rapid detection of BGP anomalies

Evaluating BGP Replay Tool (BRT) using generated BGP updates and past BGP events

The Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures (CAIA) from the Swinburne University of Technology, explored a new technique that quickly detects different BGP anomalies as part of their Internet Operations Research Grant they received from ISIF Asia during 2016 and implemented during 2017.

The Internet’s default inter-domain routing protocol, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is vulnerable to different types of anomalies such as hijacking, misconfiguration, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Although considerable research has been carried out into BGP anomalies, existing approaches were not able to mitigate or identify BGP misconfiguration and lack of ground truth time stamps for BGP events.

In this project, CAIA’s team introduced two new tools, real-time BGP Anomaly Detection Tool (RTBADT) and BGP Replay Tool (BRT), to detect BGP anomalies in real-time. Specifically, RTBADT can be used by ISP operators to monitor and detect BGP anomalies through peering it with the intended peer AS, while BRT is able to replay past BGP updates with time-stamps. These tools enable network operators to protect their network from the worst consequence and mitigate the threats of Internet stability.

Read their technical report to find more about the outcomes of this research project and its contribution to support network operators https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_TechReport_SwinburneUni_AU_BGPResearch.pdf

Khushi Baby: babies health data collection for improved decision making

The ISIF Asia 2016 Technical Innovation Scale-up Grant supported Khushi Baby, which offers a revolutionary patient-centric platform in India, designed to streamline comprehensive data collection and improve decision-making on the front lines of care.

The data collection methods in Indian rural areas are outdated, cumbersome, and lack patient specificity. Without reliable health records, clinical decision making on the part of community health workers is erroneous and inefficient at the point of care where connectivity is rarely available. Health officials are missing real-time, actionable maternal and child health data, preventing community-level monitoring of which babies are missing their vaccines and which mothers are at risk of birth complications.

Child wearing Khushi Baby health tracking necklace

In order to bridge the gap of maternal and child health, the project team invented a necklace, in which health workers can update patient history by tapping it to their mobile app. They have also designed a dashboard that provides health officials with specific, actionable, and timely analytics. More importantly, the system automatically calls mothers in the local language, reminding them to bring their children to the next vaccination camp and educating them on the importance of immunizations.

Khushi Baby finished its first deployment and randomised controlled trial in over 70 villages. They are now set to expand further in the Udaipur district to over 300 villages serviced by government ANMs in 2018. On 17th January 2018, Khushi Baby team were named as GenH Challenge Winners and received a USD 250,000 to support the continuation of the project. They hope to increase their footprint throughout Rajasthan by building a model consistent with National Health Mission standards for ANMs throughout India. Also, they look forward to translating the insights and engaging with collaborators in Africa and the Middle East where a reporting and engagement gap may be similarly failing maternal and child health care services.

The work done by Khushi Baby contributed to improve general health outcomes in rural Udaipur, especially beneficial to maternal and child health tracking. Read their published technical report to know how did they make it https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_Final_Report_KhushiBaby_vFinal.pdf

Let’s Read! app: language preservation in Thailand

Library view from web application
Library view of the Android reader app

Due to the absence of mother tongue reading resources, ethnic minority children in Thailand normally are learning to read in languages which have no connection to their home and community. This situation has been decreasing children’s interests and motivation of learning in rural Thailand, especially in the S’gaw Karen community, northern and western Thailand, with an estimated population of around 200,000.

Supported by ISIF Asia 2016 Grant, The Asia Foundation created a scalable model of technology and local community interventions that can be adapted to the local context of any number of other minority language groups throughout the region. Their web app, available at letsreadasia.org, and the Android reader app both went live to the public at the beginning of 2017, which allows individuals to both read the content and participate in the translation of stories. These tools have successfully increased the comfort of S’gaw Karen-speaking community with reading in their native language.

The project team has been working closely with local partners during the whole process, in order to fit the real needs of minority language communities. These experience enables The Asia Foundation to expand the project into other minority language context in the Asia-Pacific.

Read their technical report to learn more about their project https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_ScaleupGrants_TechReport_TheAsiaFoundation.pdf

UAV-Aided Resilient Communications for Post Disaster Applications

The ISIF Asia Technical Innovation grant for 2016, assisted Ateneo Innovation Center (AIC) in  The Philippines to develop a resilient communication system, using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to aggregate data from ground zero and relay it to a central command center where it can be further processed or acted upon by decision makers.


Data delivered by this system can contain situation reports, weather information, transport requests, and other vital information such as survivor profiles, medical history, and images of victims’ faces to support identification and reunification efforts from the humanitarian and relief organizations providing support after the disaster.

Through this architecture, the project team encouraged the development and further adoption of a new approach in utilizing UAV platforms for assisted search, rescue and reporting efforts.

The team has demonstrated during a flood drill at the town of Isabela during July last year that a system comprised of a combination of mobile phones, RF modules, and push-to-talk radio can significantly improve and augment communications capabilities. In contrast, traditional cellular network facilities would have failed in these disaster situations.

The project team’s activity has led them to believe that continued work in this field is sustainable, because they have recently met new partners that are interested in continued effort in this area.

The Final Technical Report is available for download https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_TechReport_AteneodeManilaUniversity_vFinal.pdf

Legalese – A Web Application Transact Seed-stage Financing Without Expensive Legal Fees

Entrepreneurs always require legal advice when they are trying to secure support from investors, but most-time (specially when they are starting a business) they do not have the expertise to assess legal documents such as fundraising paperwork.

Entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia who have found potential investors also struggle, as the online templates are primarily in English and most web-based solutions available today are mostly only available for US jurisdiction.

Legalese, supported by ISIF Asia 2016 Technical Innovation grant, created an application, which enables Asian entrepreneurs and investors to complete financing transactions without hiring lawyers for paperwork. This app is able to access a library of contract templates, generate a suitable set of agreements, and help to understand the implications of each proposed action. In a long term, the software development will begin to influence the delivery of law. Instead of relying on an experienced lawyer for advice, an end-user may consult the legal equivalent of StackExchange to hear opinions from a community of peers.

Legalese team
Legalese team

By building a fully-automated interface with smart defaults, embedded user education, and automated legal logic, Legalese aims to eventually be able to help these entrepreneurs at scale.

To discover more detailed project information, their final technical report is available to download at https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_TechReport_Legalese_vFinal.pdf

Building Realistic Simulator to Enhance Internet Satellite Links in the Pacific Islands

Remote locations such as many Pacific Islands face a significant challenge to access reliable and fast Internet connectivity. Shared narrowband Internet satellite links are a staple in many islands of the South Pacific. They often underperform due to the difficulties that the dominant Internet transport protocol TCP faces in estimating the available capacity across the link.

ISIF Asia 2016 Grant recipient, The University of Auckland, has built a simulator capable of replicating the demand profile and other conditions encountered on such links in order to be able to study potential solutions to the problem, such as network coding or performance enhancing proxies.

UoA satellite simulator
UoA satellite simulator

Thanks to the funds from the ISIF Asia grant, the project team developed tools to automate the experimentation process, including scripts that configure the link emulator, the “island clients” and the “world servers” (a combined total of over 100 machines), any encoders, decoders, and performance enhancing proxies.

Read their technical report to have more details of this research project at https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_Grants_TechReport_UoA_SimulationSatPAC.pdf

Equal Access to the Information Society in Myanmar

ISIF Asia 2016 Grant recipient, Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF) implemented a project to provide equal access to the information society in Myanmar.

Project team
Project team

The project team identified that the general population at Myanmar will benefit from increased access to digital, information literacy, and critical thinking skills. Therefore, efforts were undertaken by MBAPF to equip Myanmar’s citizenry, especially women, with the knowledge, skills, confidence, and other abilities to shape a democratic, trustworthy, and vibrant local information society.

Their work with the ISIF Asia grant during 2017, builds on the experience gained with their work with IREX on the Tech Age Girls program, which covered other economies besides Myanmar.

Since then, MBAFP has been developing 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.

During the course of the ISIF Asia funded project, MBAFP worked with 20 libraries established across the country and 588 participants attended training sessions, running two programs: the Mobile Information Literacy (MIL) and Tech Aged Girls (TAG).

MIL shared the information literacy with trainees to learn how to find and evaluate the quality and credibility of online information, understand how to create and share online information effectively, and participate safely and securely.

TAG worked with a selected group of Myanmar young women without other access to technology training in IT and leadership skills, improved their job skills and helped them become role models for youth in their communities.

The technical report elaborates all the project implementation and outcomes https://application.isif.asia/theme/default/files/ISIFAsia_2016_SmallGrants_TechReport_MBAPF-TAG-MIL_Myanmar_vFinal.pdf

ISIF Asia really appreciates to their wonderful work, a remarkable example of what can be achieved where community impact is at the heart of what you do.