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

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

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 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. 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 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 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 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

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.

Seed Alliance at IGF Mexico

The Seed Alliance members, FIRE Africa (AFRINIC), FRIDA Program (LACNIC), ISIF Asia (APNIC) will be present at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum, which will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 6-9 December.

During the IGF, the Seed Alliance will organize two workshops, one on cybersecurity and one on innovation and entrepreneurship, hold the Seed Alliance Awards Ceremony, and offer an opportunity to interact with grantees and Award Winners at the Seed Alliance booth in Guadalajara’s Palace of Culture and Communication, home of the Internet Governance Forum.

On Tuesday 6 December, the Seed Alliance will hold its first workshop of the week, which will focus on cybersecurity initiatives developed in and by the Global South. The session will be moderated by Carlos Martínez, LACNIC CTO, and will include noted speakers, all of them cybersecurity experts, including ISOC’s Olaf Kolkmann. This workshop will explore how developing economies are working to address cybersecurity issues, highlighting successful initiatives in their corresponding regions.(

In this sense, it is worth noting that this year the Seed Alliance included a specific category, funded by the Internet Society, which provided financial support to initiatives seeking to improve Internet security in the region: Protecting the TOR Network against Malicious Traffic in Brazil, BGP Security by RENATA (Colombia’s National Advanced Technology Academic Network) and Developing Tonga National CERT.

  • Prepared by Campinas State University (Brazil), the project for Protecting the TOR Network against Malicious Traffic seeks to implement a solution to the growing malicious code traffic operating over this network.
  • BGP Security by RENATA (Colombia’s National Advanced Technology Academic Network) involves implementing origin validation for BGP routes in RENATA’s network backbone.
  • In the case of the Tonga CERT, the project lead by Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, Information, Communication, Disaster Management (MEIDECC will work on creating the first national CERT in the Pacific region.

Award Winners 2016

On Tuesday 6 November, the Seed Alliance members will also present the 2016 Awards recognizing eight innovative initiatives and practices that have contributed to the region’s social and economic development. These are:

  1. AgriNeTT by the University of West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago)
  2. Mexicoleaks (Mexico);
  3. Restoring Connectivity: Movable and Deployable Resource ICT Unit (MDRU) by CVISNET Foundation (The Philippines);
  4. Towards A Fairer Electoral System: 1 Person, 1 Vote, 1 Value by Tindak (Malaysia);
  5. All Girls Tech Camp by Give1ProjectGambia (The Gambia);
  6. DocmeUP (Ghana);
  7. Kids Comp Camp (Kenia) and
  8. Tobetsa and WiFi TV Extension Project (South Africa).

To conclude, on Friday 9 December, FIRE, FRIDA, ISIF Asia will hold a second workshop on entrepreneurship and innovation in the Global South. This workshop will analyze the challenges innovators and entrepreneurs must face in developing countries and attempt to identify opportunities for Internet innovation in the countries of the Global South.

Finally, a Seed Alliance booth will be set up at the IGF Village, where FIRE, FRIDA and ISIF Asia Award winners and cybersecurity grant recipients will be available to share with Forum participants.

MDRU – restoring connectivity during disasters

CVISNET Foundation is the winner of the ISIF Asia 2016 Community Impact Award. They are eligible to get an additional 1000 AUD for the Community Choice Award 2016, so please vote for CVISNET Foundation and show your support, and

CVISNET: Restoring Connectivity through the use of Movable and Deployable Resource ICT Unit (MDRU)

Article prepared by Vannak Lach

The MDRU is a unit that can be quickly deployed to restore communications in communities in the aftermath of a disaster. The unit is self-reliant running on its own power source, and/or is able to harness other power sources such as power generators or local active power lines. It has the ability to accommodate communication and information processing functions that can be rapidly transported or moved to the disaster zone, and can be deployed within a reasonable short time to establish the network at the disaster site and launch ICT services.  The MDRU is equipped with an array of communications equipment, servers and storage devices, and is designed to bring not only a communications infrastructure but also data center functions to a disaster-stricken area in a very short time.

The MDRU system is capable of expanding by connecting to another MDRU and thereby creating an MDRU network. This extends the coverage as big as the number of units is connected. The project extended the MDRU to Designated Evacuation Areas using Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The project implements an FWA IPAS (Wireless IP Access System), a broadband wireless point-to-multipoint communication system operating at 26 GHz that provides high-speed IP access up to 80 Mbps transmission rate.

The deployment of a MDRU network also supports communities to improve their disaster management planning and preparedness.

CVISNET technical staff are installing MDRU equipment in a piloting area in Philippines.

The Municipality of San Remigio, in northern Cebu was the pilot area of the MDRU project with the municipal hall designated as the command and control center during disaster. In order for local residents to communicate using their smartphones a construction of a Wi-Fi based network or Access Points (AP) will cover the entire municipal hall and its surrounding areas. Approximately a radius of 250 meters that has a Wi-Fi signal that the residents can use during disaster. The service to be delivered first is voice communication. With a large number of the population using smartphones it is being leverage by the MDRU project to connect as many residents as possible with minimal training due to the familiarity of the Android applications.

The pilot site is located in a tropical area that is constantly being hit by typhoons and severe weather disturbances. It is also a good location for the MDRU equipment to be tested in a hot and humid environment that can be replicated to other areas in the Pacific. Aside from the equipment, the project will also gather more information with the experiences and results from the disasters that Japan and the Philippines encountered in 2011 and 2013.

One of the relevant results of the pilot testing is the use of the MDRU equipment during non-disaster period or during normal times. It was noticed the MDRU can also be used to isolated island communities where there is no voice and data infrastructure. The output of this study is now called a “wireless IP PBX System”.

The MDRU Project is also a great example of inter regional collaboration and multi-stakholder collaboration. The work around the MDRU units started in Japan as a result of an R&D effort by MIC and NTT after  the experience of the 2011 Great Japan Earthquake. Two years later in 2013 the Philippines was also hit by super typhoon Haiyan that devastated the entire Central Philippines, so CVISNET negotiated NTT for the MDRU to be tested in the Philippines with the help and thru the channels of MIC, ITU and DOST.

As disasters are more and more frequent in the Asia Pacific region, the MDRU offer an scalable solution to restore connectivity during a disaster, as well as an alternative to expand connectivity for the unconnected.

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.


Voiceless faces and missed Cases – Operation ASHA bridges TB and technology

The road to recovery for a Tuberculosis (TB) patient in Cambodia can be long and arduous. For three months, 65-year old Mr. Nou Pov suffered from coughs, fatigue and night sweats, all of which are symptoms of TB, without being able to obtain an accurate diagnosis. “I became weak. I could not work, so I just sat at home,” recalled Nou. Only when an Operation ASHA staff stopped by his home while screening for TB door-to-door and recognized his symptoms was Nou brought to a local health center for testing. Upon being diagnosed with TB, he finally began his 6-month long treatment course.

Nou was lucky to ultimately obtain a diagnosis, but an estimated 36% of TB cases, or 21,060 individuals, remain undetected in Cambodia, according to the Cambodia Ministry of Health. A socioeconomically disadvantaged patient in Cambodia, like Nou, faces many barriers when it comes to TB detection, such as a lack of awareness about TB and healthcare resources, a lack of access to knowledgeable and trained staff, and a lack of means to travel to health centers.

Operation ASHA seeks to minimize the barriers that TB patients face in seeking timely TB care. In 2014, we implemented a new technological solution called eDetection, an app which would strengthen TB case finding and contact tracing. eDetection uses GPS-mapping to help Operation ASHA field staff locate areas with potential TB suspects. Operation ASHA field staff then travel door-to-door through these regions, prompting individuals to answer TB screening questionnaires that have been programmed into the app in accordance to WHO guidelines. By bringing TB care directly to the doorsteps of the underserved, Operation ASHA hoped to minimize the challenges that keep disadvantaged patients from receiving care. Based on an in-built algorithm, the app prompts the field staff to follow up on certain individuals whose responses suggest that they may have TB. Paper-based monitoring methods, the standard method of keeping track of patient screening, is often compromised by human error, thus resulting in patients being lost to follow up. With our app, when a patient is not followed up with, the system generates an alert to the field team, ensuring that each patient gets the right care at the right time.


With backing from ISIF Asia, Operation ASHA launched a small-scale eDetection pilot in Prey Kabas Operational District, Takeo Province, in 2014 (download report here). Although our concept was simple, bringing the app technology into rural Cambodia proved to be very difficult. “Most field staff do not begin with any previous experience with using tablet technology and require much training,” said Ms. Sinoth Lay, a Team Supervisor responsible for overseeing the activities of Operation ASHA’s field staff. “None of them had even used smartphones before”. Many rural areas also lacked reliable 3G access, resulting in inconsistent connections with the central server system that sometimes hindered the field team’s work efficiency. Additionally, the vast majority of patients lacked prior exposure to technology and many were initially hesitant to share personal health information with the field staff until they became more familiar with OpASHA’s work.

Despite the initial challenges of implementation, eDetection proved to be a valuable asset for TB screening and detection based on early pilot results. In one year, Operation ASHA managed to screen over 17,000 individuals for TB in Prey Kabas OD, of which 406 people tested positive for TB and were enrolled for treatment. Areas in which the technology was used resulted in 10% more patients being screened and 16% more patients being sent to health centers for diagnosis over areas in which paper-based monitoring systems were used. Most of the field staff also viewed the app positively, praising it for increasing data authenticity in the field. Although still in its early stages, eDetection shows great potential in being both easily scalable and financially feasible. Combined with Operation ASHA’s door-to-door TB care delivery model, it holds much promise for providing high-quality, low-cost care to TB patients across Cambodia.

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.