Tech Age Girls Myanmar at 13th Internet Governance Forum

This is my first visit to IGF and I was excited looking at the diverse agenda of IGF even before arriving to Paris. I have attended several workshops and panels which are relevant to our works in Myanmar.

I attended “Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion (s)” which is under the theme of digital inclusion and accessibility. Moderator is from University of Pennsylvania Law. Discussion were made around UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and very interesting to learn one SDG can be linked to one another. This high level discussion are useful for me especially when we write proposals for government and UN affiliated organizations. I was able to discuss about our Beyond Access Myanmar project in Myanmar where community partnership is very strong for sustainable development. Many participants agree the importance of community libraries in playing training of digital literacy. University of Pennsylvania Law is conducting a project called “One World, One Internet” and they interviewed me after the panel. I was able to explain about the reason of my visit and our current gender innovation project in Myanmar and the award that ISIF gave to our foundation.


Interview by One World, One Internet

I am also very interested to learn that motorbikes are used as hotspot providers in India. In Philippine, Unilever partners with Telco to create an innovative way of providing connectivity by allowing 20 minutes free unlimited data for every purchase of their product. These creative way or “thinking outside the box” models really interest me. At the same time, challenges are still present. For example, in Nigeria, some health workers think internet disrupt their works and they are worried about losing their jobs.


Connecting Next Billion Panel”

I joined the “Gender Issues and Democratic Participation: reclaiming ICT for a Humane World” panel. Panellists are from India, Pakistan, France CSO and companies like Facebook. I was able to learn quite a diverse group of discussion. However, challenges are quite similar to what we have been facing in Myanmar as well. For example, women are given less priority in access to mobile phones and parents restrict the learning of digital and online tools for their daughters in India. These happens mainly in most vulnerable remote area of the country. Other challenges like cyberbullying, lack of digital literacy among young women give vulnerability for them in the online environment. Internet is full of challenges and also opportunities are present. Therefore, many agree that digital literacy is very important to give to young women and peer to peer learning works in many country. This is exactly what our Tech Age Girls Myanmar project is doing.


Gender Panel

I also joined “Has it become Luxury to Disconnect?” discussion. I was a bit sceptical about the title initially but when I attended it, I fully understand the topic. The main topic is about how privacy risk are present in this 21st century. In this modern world, it is hard for people to stay away from internet. All our data are collected by Telco. What do they do about these data? Are they safe or not? According to one Indian panellist, the safest way is to keep data in their respective country. It is especially for sensitive government data. At the same time, many agree that education and training on privacy in online environment has to be given to students. Many bad experiences happened as people put a lot of their private lives on social media. They can backslash one day when they get old. I was able to discuss that we have developed a curriculum called Mobile Information Literacy which is mobile based digital literacy training and one module is on privacy, security and netiquette in online environment. Many agree that mobile based training are very much productive as devices like laptops are expensive for rural communities.

I also joined “EU Delegation to IGF and Youth IGF Movement” and it is very interesting as EU delegation are mostly old politicians and many discussants are young tech savvy people. In other words, EU delegation agrees that many of older generation think internet is a very special thing and would like to handle very carefully and slowly. However, technology is changing very fast and legal sector is hard to cope with the momentum of the technology changes. Cyberlaw and other legal policy relating to ICT is always behind. It is quite similar to country like Myanmar too. For example, cookies, cache shall be cleansed (like washing clothes) every 5 days and browser shall be updated often. Lacking to do so will give vulnerability for your device to be attached by virus and malwares. These things have to be taught in schools. I noticed that a lot of discussion always come back to education of digital literacy at schools. This is something which we are trying hard to teach to teachers at schools in Myanmar how to stay safely online. In this digital age, students shall be taught not only basic ICT skills such as Microsoft Office but also they need to learn how to become a good digital citizen (netizen). Important point is random teaching of digital literacy will have little effect as things are growing very fast and need to tech like school on daily basis. At the same time, media literacy trainings are also very important as there are so many misinformation and disinformation present on daily basis.

During the opening ceremony of IGF, speech from UN Secretary General is very powerful. He wanted to see more stakeholders in IGF such as including philosophers and anthropologists in the development of AI. He also emphasizes on promoting missing voices especially marginalized people such as women, elders and disabled persons. Finally, he encouraged this forum shall produce actionable plans which need to turn risk into opportunities. French President Macron speech was also very inspirational on how regulators and privacy enthusiasts are playing hard games in the online environment. But, France and EU would like to do midway (not like California style nor Chinese style). These are valuable messages for country like Myanmar too.

On Day 2, I attended “Internet and Jobs” which is organized by Internet Society and it was very insightful. Panellists are from ILO, Brazil University and University of Portugal. Nowadays, people are worrying about losing their jobs due to development in AI. However, many jobs which we have never expected before are opening doors for youths. For example, data analyst jobs sector alone will create 80,000 more jobs. Therefore, I recalled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that people will be doing different kind of jobs. Types of jobs will vary from developed countries and developing countries. Due to presence of more percentage of younger generation in job force in developing countries (like our country), youths will work new forms of jobs. However, developed nations will be having survival mode as they have more percentage of old aged people in the future.
However, at present, youths are suffering from retrench in case of crisis. Therefore, youths need to get digital literacy in order to prepare for 21st century job force. In the future, many of us will be working online from home. Therefore, most of us will loss our cultural norms like loosing family time. We all have to prepare them for the future. Youth involvement in Singapore is inspirational. Youths launched Singapore Youth Council which volunteers to help digital literacy to elderly people. This movement give not only skill for elders but also give social bonding between youths and elders. Myanmar shall be adopting this campaign as many elders are facing problems with digital tools nowadays.


Internet and Jobs for Youths Panel

I am able to visit most of the booths at the IGF Village and met with may interesting companies, universities and civil society organizations. I met with one organization called AccessNow which has developed game for youth to understand security measures of their own devices. Moreover, I met with Relex Life company which has interest to invest in Myanmar. I also visited UNESCO digital preservation unit at the basement of IGF and I was very impressed with digitalization efforts made by UNESCO on thousands of documents and files. Since our foundation is active in digital preservation of old palm leaves and paper manuscripts, I was able to learn a lot from UNESCO technical expert there.


Digital preservation room at UNESCO

I was so excited to accept the award for “Gender Empowerment and Innovation Award” from ISIF. I now understand SeedAlliance clearly and its affiliates to give numerous awards around the world to organizations like us. It was such a honour to accept this prestigious award for Asia.


Gender Empowerment and Innovation Award to Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung from Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation


Awards Recipients around the World

On the last day, I was able to attend “Investment strategies to scale community networks” panel which was organized by APNIC. It is very interesting to learn that how funders would like to support. Carolina said that any innovation both hardware, software, strong business model and enabling local content are key areas of support. All the panellists agree to have strong community network is key in success. Jane Coffin from Internet Society said that
“In community networks, much of the work is human engineering. Installing the equipment is the easy work “. I fully supported her and gave our Myanmar experience of having strong community library networks and main reason is human factor. We need to have dedicated, committed librarians who are willing to work for their own community. We also need to give ownership to them. Many discussants agree this model. Jane Coffin kindly told me after the panel that she would connect me to her colleagues in Southeast Asia. I was also able to greet Carolina who has vision for strong community network.


Investment strategies to scale community network

I also attended “Public Access in libraries: a policy toolkit for public access” panel which was organized by IFLA. All the panellists are eager to discuss how to be sustainable for public libraries. A panellist from Georgia said that 10 years ago, people think that libraries are no longer needed as everything will go online. However, access to internet alone is not enough as people need to learn how to go online and search for information and libraries become the best place for training these things. In other words, a lot of digital literacy training are taking place in public libraries. I was able to discuss about our experience in Myanmar. In order to be sustainable libraries, one of the key elements to create ownership. We have to create ownership to community libraries. I gave one example of one of the community libraries that we supported in Myanmar. We supported free internet, 4 tablets and training to the librarian. The cost for the tablets was only about USD 500. Librarian invited students from nearby school and many kids always come to their library. Then, community people found out and they invested for a separate room for ICT training and they were able to fund by themselves for computers as well. After the panel, IFLA panellist asked me to contribute an article about how to get sustainable model for public libraries based on our Myanmar experience. I had agreed to write one article for IFLA newsletter.

I was able to attend “Accessibility and Disability” discussion. Even though there are limited number of participants, this is very insightful how much challenges disabled people faced even in this modern world. They even discussed how difficult to attend the IGF. The reason of attending the session was to learn how our Myanmar library network can help disabled people by mean of technology. I was fortunate to meet with Professor Derrick Cogburn who is chairing the Disability Initiatives and he is willing to collaborate with our foundation.

In summary, IGF has given me a great deal of exposure about our works, new contacts and a lot of learning experience for me. The followings are my “Take Home” messages.

  1. IGF has enlightened me in many new topics such as blockchain technology and this gives me a new perspective of technology in this digital world. I have to say this is educational and inspirational trip for me.
  2. I am glad to learn that there are many common challenges in even the developed world on gender inequality and happy to learn how we can overcome them. Gender inequality is one of the hot topics at IGF and hence I have more energy to strengthen our Tech Age Girls Myanmar initiative.
  3. IGF has given me getting new contacts who are interested to collaborate with us.
  4. Role of community libraries and community centres approach is on the right track and this is exactly what we are doing. We have to plan ahead how we can expand sustainably beyond our current 150 library networks. Moreover, we are able to get access to IFLA’s toolkit for public libraries which they are going to launch soon.
  5. There are many lessons learned as I am able to apply and disseminate in our current mobile information literacy curriculum.
  6. I am more prepared by learning the current trends of sponsoring from donor communities.

Therefore, I would like to thank ISIF and APNIC to give a chance of offering the award and have a chance to visit IGF. This is a real honour for us and this recognition is meant to our foundation a lot. We really appreciate your support and efforts to make our works visible to the world. Thank you very much.

Tribute to ISIF Asia remarkable women innovators

International Women's Day
International Women’s Day

In the last 10 years, ISIF Asia has supported women led teams to research and develop Internet-based solutions to improve social and economic outcomes, as well as funding projects focusing on women’s access to services and economic empowerment.

As the celebrations for International Women’s Day continue across the world, we salute these remarkable women for their amazing contributions and their endurance to improve the lives of other people. Some of them have moved on from the projects and organizations that intersected with ISIF Asia, but we follow their success.

Award winners

Nashin Mahtani is the Project Co-Manager and Lead Designer ​of PetaBencana.id, an Indonesian disaster mapping foundation, where she creates data visualization strategies and new representational forms to explain information and communication technologies and systems. With a background in architecture, her research and design work investigates the relational complexities of urban infrastructure, computation, and neuroscience.

Swati Ramanathan is co-founder of Jana Group, a clutch of social enterprises aimed at urban transformation in India. These include the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy where she leads Janaagraha’s innovations in the use of social media and mobile and internet technology for civic participation.

Shamila Keyani, co-founder of Jaroka mobile-based Tele-healthcare in Pakistan, integrating engineering, health provision and community care (*).

Nancy Margried CEO of Batik Fractal, is dedicated to transform traditional art with technology in Indonesia. Her products are internationally recognized and support thousand of artisans to improve their livelihood as the quality of their products increases.

Dr Sara Saeed Khurram, is the founder and CEO of Sehat Kahani in Pakistan, she is a health innovator, working to improve basic health care in communities through a spectrum of services focused on primary health care consultation, health awareness and health counselling.

 

Mary Rose Ofianga-Rontal, Philippines. From project manager of a pilot project focusing on health data management to feminist entrepreneur, co-founder of DreamSpace.ph and founder of WomenPowered (*).

Sadequa Sejuti, is an architect from Bangladesh, committed to support women entrepreneurs by developing e-commerce solutions fitted for the developing world. As Managing Director of Future Solution for Business.

Chong Sheiu Ching. Malaysia. eHomemakers. Women’s empowerment champion and entrepreneur (*).

Dr. Meenakshi Gautham health researcher focused on rural health services, maternal and child health, equity and quality of healthcare and how mobile health applications for low resource settings can support health services delivery (*).

Chak Sopheap, was appointed Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights when she was just 29 years old. She is a human rights activist, globally recognized for her work to defend human rights and support community development in Cambodia.

(*) Also a grant recipient.

Grant recipients

Alexis Chun – Legalese. A lawyer turned entrepreneur, working to solve the problem of contract / corporate lifecycle automation for start-ups.

Maureen Hilyard – Cook Islands Internet Action Group. An educator turned Internet-Governance champion, supporting development projects across the Pacific.

Diana Klein – CoralWatch. A scientific Illustrator/designer turned Citizen Science Project Manager at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Kanchana Kanchanasut – a pioneer for Internet access in Thailand, innovating on access provision with design of devices, networks and access solutions for community benefit. Internet Hall of Fame inductee.

Jayshree Satpute, Sukthi Dhital and Francesca Feruglio – co-founders of NAZDEEK. Human rights professionals and activists fighting for women’s rights among the poorest of the poor in India.

Jacqueline Chen, Singapore. She used to be country director of OperationASHA in Cambodia and is now working at EMpower. An engineer with a public policy master, working to improve health and economic outcomes for women.

Bishakha Datta, is an Indian film maker, activist and a former journalist. She is the co-founder and executive director of Point of View, based in Mumbai, a non-profit working in the area of gender, sexuality and women’s rights.

Lisa Garcia is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Media Alternatives in The Philippines. A human rights expert working at the intersection with ICTs. She and Nica Dumlao led one of the earliest ISIF-funded projects around women’s rights on the Internet. Nica is a feminist activist who has been involved in the social justice movement, on the intersection between human rights and ICTs in The Philippines with regional projection. She works as Digital Rights Coordinator at EngageMedia.

Organizations that received ISIF Asia support around projects focusing on women’s access to services and economic empowerment

Reports and videos about their work can be found from the full list of awards winners as well as the full list of grants recipientss and reports sections of our website.

  • DoctHers, Pakistan
  • Batik Fraktal, Indonesia
  • UM Healthcare Trust, Pakistan
  • ACCESS Health International, Philippines
  • Future Solution For Business, Bangladesh
  • Corpcom Services Sdn Bhd., Malaysia
  • Movale Development Foundation Inc., The Philippines
  • Garhwal Community Development and Welfare Society – GCDWS, India
  • Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Cambodia
  • Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, Myanmar
  • Khushi Baby, India
  • Nazdeek, in collaboration with PAJHRA and ICAAD, India
  • Operation ASHA (Cambodia),
  • Amakomaya, Nepal
  • Point of View, India
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives, The Philippines)
  • School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the National University of Science and Technology, Pakistan

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.

Ateneo

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

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.

Peta Bencana at the 12th Internet Governance Forum

Jet d’Eau Fountain, Geneva’s famous landmark. Photo: Emir Hartato
Jet d’Eau Fountain, Geneva’s famous landmark. Photo: Emir Hartato

The 12th IGF was the first IGF for Peta Bencana and specifically for myself. I found that the topics for the sessions at the IGF were very diverse. The pre-event (Day 0) was already packed with discussions. I went to a workshop session “Working Toward Universal Access: Educate, Engage and Empower” organised by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). At this session, Vint Cerf (co-creator of TCP-IP) pointed out that there are 3.9 billion people without Internet, and he asked participants to imagine if, by 2025, “Internet for all” was a reality. The discussion was engaging as the organiser break everyone into groups to discuss broad Internet access issues such as universal digital literacy, digital gender divide, community networks, etc. Afterwards, I jumped from session to session to observe the rest of the day zero event, which I also found engaging.

Day 0 of IGF was held at le Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG). Photo: Emir Hartato
Day 0 of IGF was held at le Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG). Photo: Emir Hartato

The first official day of the IGF was packed with Seed Alliance sessions. Peta Bencana joined the awards ceremony for the ISIF Asia Internet for Development Award 2017 and shared the moment with three winners from the Fund for Internet Research and Development (FIRE) Africa and two winners from the Regional Fund for Digital Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean (FRIDA). Later, all the Seed Alliance winners shared a booth at the IGF village, showcasing our projects, sharing how Internet-based solutions can contribute to social and economical development.

2017 Seed Alliance Award Winners. Photo: Ivan Wood
2017 Seed Alliance Award Winners. Photo: Ivan Wood
One of the Seed Alliance 2017 Awardee (FIRE program), Asia Kamukama (Maendeleo Foundation), taking part for Seed Alliance booth at the IGF village. Photo: Emir Hartato
One of the Seed Alliance 2017 Awardee (FIRE program), Asia Kamukama (Maendeleo Foundation), taking part for Seed Alliance booth at the IGF village. Photo: Emir Hartato

At the second day of the IGF, I had the opportunity to share about Peta Bencana’s work as a speaker at the open forum session “Data for Humanitarian Field” organised by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The open forum discussed how local community works with new data (e.g. online information, geospatial data, crowdsource) for humanitarian purposes while tackling challenges such as digital divide, data literacy, and data privacy. At the forum, I shared some of our team experiences when developing PetaBencana.id platform such as how we are working with the range of different mobile applications and integrate the information into one place, how we are working with the range of different communities (government, non-government/civil, and academic institutions), including how we valued their inputs to improve the platform.


Watch the full video of the Open Forum “Data for humanitarian field panelists”. Left-to-right: Emir Hartato (Peta Bencana Foundation), Rania Alerksoussi (IFRC), CJ Hendrix (OCHA), Moderator: Heather Leson (IFRC), Online Moderator: Barbara Rosen Jacobson (Diplo Foundation).

I also shared our recent community engagement activities, #SelfiesSaveLives, in which we installed paints street art for monsoon preparedness in Indonesia, funded by the ISIF Asia Award cash prize. Residents in Jakarta were invited to engage and take selfies with a flood-themed anamorphic mural, then share it to their social media networks to spread the message to help each other in time of disaster and build a resilient community together.

Hacking the street during #SelfiesSaveLifes in the Jakarta Car free Day on 10 December 2017. Peta Bencana will replicate this community engagement activity for other places. Photo: Peta Bencana documentation.
Hacking the street during #SelfiesSaveLifes in the Jakarta Car free Day on 10 December 2017. Peta Bencana will replicate this community engagement activity for other places. Photo: Peta Bencana documentation.

For the rest of the IGF, I joined several sessions such as “Fake News, AI Trolls, and Disinformation” organised by National Democratic Institute, “Data on Environmental and Climate Activities” organised by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), “How Social Media Shape Our Minds?” organised by NetMission.Asia, “Data Protection and Humanitarian Action” organised by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and “Data and the SDGs” organised by SDG Lab at the UNOG. I believe that other sessions were also interesting, however, due to the time constraint I only had the opportunity to attend some of them.

Outside the IGF schedule, there was always something to do. Most organisations had social events in the evening such as Disco-Tech, Access Now’s pizza night, ISOC-ICANN reception, APC party, including Seed Alliance Social. I found these social events are the best way to interact and meet new people to expand our network.

Seed Alliance Social. Photo: Seed Alliance, Emir Hartato (Right).
Seed Alliance Social. Photo: Seed Alliance, Emir Hartato (Right).

I also managed to visit The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the last day of the conference. I joined the scheduled tour with other IGF participants and I had a great experience visiting the Globe of Science and Innovation, including a visit to CERN’s data centre, where I learned a lot about the birth of World Wide Web (WWW).

Above: The CERN Data Centre, the heart of CERN's entire scientific, administrative, and computing infrastructure. Below: Inside the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN (Left). One of the first two first Web Servers in the world (Right). Photos: Emir Hartato
Above: The CERN Data Centre, the heart of CERN’s entire scientific, administrative, and computing infrastructure. Below: Inside the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN (Left). One of the first two first Web Servers in the world (Right). Photos: Emir Hartato

At last, the 12th IGF had come to end. It was a long week, but I had a great time and learned a lot of things such as:

  1. The Internet gains a lot of attention from a diverse group of people. The IGF brings people all around the world to share and learn how Internet opportunities can be maximised while addressing the risks and challenges.
  2. The digital divide is a major issue at the 12th IGF where 3.9 billion people live currently lives without the Internet. Meanwhile, the rest of the population who have Internet access facing issues such as disinformation, internet censorship, internet shutdown, cybersecurity threats, digital gender divide, net neutrality, and many more.
  3. By looking at the schedule, big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are one of the appealing topics at the 12th IGF. About 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day from various sources (e.g. sensors, social media, digital photos and videos, mobile phones). These data can be generated to useful information. However, concerns rising over data privacy and security.
  4. People are using the Internet in many ways positively. PetaBencana.id is one of a good example to showcase the Internet’s capability to support development. Therefore, It is important to keep the Internet free and open to everyone.

Moreover, being able to connect with a diverse range of people around the world is an invaluable privilege at the IGF. On behalf of Peta Bencana team, I would like to thank ISIF Asia for supporting Peta Bencana through the “Internet for Development” award. This award is not only a recognition but also a motivation for all of us to continue our work on using the Internet for good through PetaBencana.id platform. We also would like to thanks to all our partners MIT Urban Risk Lab, USAID, Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB) Indonesia, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), residents and local agencies in Indonesia who have worked with us to create more resilient Indonesia.

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a forum for multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The 12th IGF, with the theme “Shape Your Digital Future”, was held at the United Nations Office Geneva (UNOG) Switzerland from 18 – 21 December 2017. With the generous support from the Information Society Innovation Funds (ISIF) Asia through the Internet for Development Award 2017, Peta Bencana Foundation was able to participate at the 12th IGF to promote the value of Internet technology to support disaster management, specifically PetaBencana.id platform, a free web-based disaster map that produces megacity-scale visualizations of disasters using both crowd-sourced reporting and government agency validations in real time. This post highlighted Peta Bencana activities at the 12th IGF, which represented by Emir Hartato (Project Co-Manager).

Computer Emergency Response Team established in Tonga

As the first national CERT in the Pacific Islands, certTonga was established in July 2016, in order to provide “A safe and secure digital environment for the Kingdom of Tonga and its citizens”. The team aimed at conducting incident handling, performing vulnerability handling, and providing security consultation and advice at Tonga and greater Pacific.

The Cybersecurity grant, funded by Internet Society, assisted in the setting up of Tonga CERT’s capacity and capability to undertake its mandated function. APNIC and it’s Foundation also helped find opportunities for certTonga Staff to partake in capacity building activities and chances to collaborate and form partnerships with relevant organizations.

During the project implementation, there has been many awareness and educational initiatives in relation to the functions of the CERT and through the better understanding of its security role in the government and society, participation and involvement is being increased from time to time.

certTonga
certTonga

certTonga is now playing a vital role in the Tonga Police investigation process which has placed the certTonga in a position to be actively planned to grow in all areas to be able to cope with the demand. There is a particular focus on building capacity of the team as it is now essential to the continuous operation of the CERT as well as obtaining a reliable information obtained from a verified sources and undisturbed evidences.

The Final Technical Report “Developing certTonga” is available for download.

Rafi can now read on his own

Saifuddin Rafi reading at home using the digital talking books
Saifuddin Rafi reading at home using the digital talking books

Saifuddin Rafi, one of the four million visually impaired people in Bangladesh, is studying in class XI at Patiya Government College in Chittagong. His study started in a specialized school (Government Muradpur School for the Blind) in Chittagong. But, after completing primary level, he got admitted into ‘Union Krishi School and College’ in Patiya nearby his home town. During his secondary education level, in this mainstream school, he did not get textbooks in Braille or accessible audio format. He had to traverse jumpy situations due to absence of accessible study materials.

These difficulties required support from his sister, also a student with her own burden, who assisted him by recording all the books and class notes. The sufferings of his parents were also countless. A child with visual impairment needs extra privileges for continuing education; but the access to study materials required and their affordability is perplexing. Therefore, parents wishing their children to continue their studies face physical, mental and financial stresses.

For Rafi, difficulties to get accessible study materials needed for visually impaired students was a major challenge, and it troubled him and his family till class VIII. While studying in class IX, he received textbooks in audio format. Later he came to know that these were called DAISY-standard digital talking books.

DAISY Multimedia Talking Book
DAISY Multimedia Talking Book

The digital talking books are accessible materials which provide the text in an audio version for all including students with print and learning disabilities. Digital talking books are for everyone who needs accessible information; readers can play the audio and simultaneously display and highlight the corresponding text. It eases the education for the number of visually impaired students in Bangladesh like Rafi.

A team of persons with disabilities developed DAISY standard digital multimedia books, e-books and digital braille books for the primary and secondary levels using open source technology which are freely available for the end user. The project received technical support from DAISY Consortium, Accessible Books Consortium and WIPO, while receiving implementation support from Young Power in Social (YPSA) and overall support from the Service Innovation Fund of the Access to Information (a2i) programme under the Prime Minister’s Office in Bangladesh. The project has converted all primary and secondary education textbooks (grades I through X) into cost effective DAISY digital multimedia format; made it easier to produce braille, text, audio book or e-book as suitable.

These accessible and affordable reading materials brought a momentous shift in Rafi’s learning curve. Through receiving Grade Point Average (GPA) 5, the highest grade obtainable for secondary and higher secondary education system in Bangladesh, in his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination, Rafi has created an example for other visually impaired students who are struggling for their study fighting against their disabilities.

This project has won multiple awards for developing these multimedia talking books, for the expansion of the accessibility of digital publications with innovative models and practices. The most remarkable awards include the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize, 2017; the Zero Projects Award on Inclusive Education (2016); the Accessible Books Consortium Award for Accessible Publishing Initiative at the International Excellence Award 2015 held in London Book Fair; etc.

 

 

 

 

Among them the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Award, 2014 was the first prestigious international recognition for the digital talking book project and greatly inspired the team behind the project. These funds and awards actually made the ground more secure for further efforts and development in creating accessibility for all in
education.

Surely, these appreciations are significant as both stimulus and outcome of the project. Yet, the main purpose of the project was to enable the students and people with various disabilities. So, the outcome should be measured by the aid, reduction of hassle and indicators of success of the beneficiaries. More than 100,000 students with visual disability, print disability and learning disability can now read and listen to their textbooks that significantly improve their learning now.

The Access to Information (a2i) programme is continuously working on accessible education for the visually impaired. Low-cost digital braille display and low-cost DAISY multimedia book players are being developed locally to read these DAISY digital talking books. Bangladesh wants to make people with disabilities resilient rather than ‘assumed liability’ of the society. Ensuring inclusion of all including people with disabilities, especially in education, will aid human-centric and sustainable development of Bangladesh.

The education and life as a whole for Rafi and his family, representative of thousands of beneficiary households, has become much easier these days. Rafi can use either smartphone or computer to access his reading materials.