2021 ISIF Asia grant recipients announced

A large-scale collaborative project among research networks in the Asia Pacific region to build trust and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) capabilities is among the many Internet development and research projects being funded in the newly announced group of ISIF Asia supported projects.

Other projects include IPv6 training, an extensive honeynet cybersecurity project spanning several economies in Asia, and knowledge sharing between Network Operator Groups (NOGs) and Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

ISIF Asia received a total of 74 applications for this round of funding, resulting in the biggest group of ISIF Asia grantees ever, with 22 projects covering 16 economies. Some of these projects cover multiple economies. Three economies are receiving funds for the first time: Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Lao PDR.

The grants total USD 1.82 million in funding, and are spread across three categories: Infrastructure (developing the Internet), Inclusion (accessing the Internet) and Knowledge (skills and research about the Internet). Funding for these grants is part of the Asia Pacific Internet Development Trust’s 2021 funding for the APNIC Foundation.

The full list of summaries is included below. Follow links below for easy navigation.

INFRASTRUCTURE

INCLUSION

KNOWLEDGE

Infrastructure

Expand the Central Australian Desert Project to serve the Nitjpurru indigenous community in Pigeon Hole. Distant Curve Remote Area Telecommunications. Australia. USD 150,000.

Nitjpurru is a community in Australia’s Northern Territory of approximately 140 people, 450kms away from the nearest town. Nitjpurru is accessible only by four wheel drive vehicle and access is subject to flooding during the wet season. Telecommunications infrastructure is limited to a single payphone, shared by the entire community.

The Central Australian Desert Project connected the Northern Territory communities of Engawala and Atitjere with an embedded system using solar powered microwave relays. This impact grant will fund the development of a similar system for Nitjpurru. The project will also integrate a framework for supervising various systems needed to run the relays, cost-effectively monitor them, and ensure they are providing the necessary connectivity.

Sustainable smart villages in rural Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea University of Technology. Papua New Guinea. USD 85,000.

Over 80% of Papua New Guinea’s population lives in rural areas. The government is promoting agriculture and education as key aspects of its development goals, but is challenged by limited connectivity caused by unreliable power supply, a lack of appropriate communications technology, and a shortage of skilled people to maintain infrastructure and train users.

This scale-up grant will help develop a ‘smart village’ solution, seeking to address all these challenges, connecting mobile devices to enhance education and provide information in the local language, supported by a reliable power system monitored by sensors and calibrated based on machine learning techniques. Data traffic, together with power consumption data, will be used to develop a business model for scaling the smart village model further.

The project will provide ten community Wi-Fi sites as sustainable services to rural areas, and aims to cultivate partnerships between industry, community, and academic institutions, to develop digital literacy packages as a cost-effective solution to closing the digital divide for diverse user groups in the community.

Field-ready network-coded tunnels for satellite links. The University of Auckland. New Zealand. USD 85,000.

This project aims to widen the circle of people able to deploy titrated coded tunnels, create reference systems on actual satellite links in the field, and demonstrate that this technology brings actual performance benefits to real users.

This project builds on a previous ISIF Asia project which researched how coded tunnels over satellite links can accelerate individual packet flows. The current project will take it out of the lab and show users that the technology is ready for wider deployment.

This scale-up grant involves a partnership with Gravity Internet and Te One School on Chatham Island, with Gravity Internet being familiarized with the new technology. They will work with an engineering link to Chatham Island using a satellite link to connect to the school.

Hybrid LoRa Network for underserved community Internet. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Malaysia. USD 85,000.

The Chini Lake, Pahang area of Malaysia has challenging terrain with thick foliage. These conditions mean that the 500 indigenous Orang Asli residents, spread across six villages, lack access to mobile data coverage.

As a solution, LoRa wireless technology has been proposed. The scale-up grant will help establish a LoRa Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) gateway on a helium balloon, equipped with Mesh LoRa architecture that has text and voice messaging capabilities, as well as a cloud-based data management platform.

This will give local residents access to digital materials through a messaging system, accommodating users of all different literacy levels, as well as water level alerts for mitigation of flooding and drought situations, and an avenue for promoting local products and services through the cloud-based data management platform.

Securing Software Defined Network architectures. The University of Newcastle. Australia. USD 30,000.

This project involves the design and development of techniques for detecting attacks on Software Defined Network (SDN) switches.

SDN has proven useful for handling the growing complexity of networks. It is widely deployed in Enterprise, Cloud, and Internet Service Provider networks. As SDN becomes more common, so do cyberattacks that exploit SDN vulnerabilities. There is a growing need to enhance security in SDN networks. This small grant will implement security techniques to validate against different attacks on SDN switches and develop a Switch Security Application for SDN Controllers for detecting attacks on switches.

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Inclusion

Connectivity Bridges: Reaching remote locations with high-speed Internet services. Rural Broadband — AirJaldi. India. USD 150,000.

Various Internet infrastructure initiatives have deployed technologies across parts of India using both wired and wireless Internet. However, rural areas aren’t easily connected leading to some infrastructure being under-used, particularly large communication towers.

This impact grant will help create a hybrid ‘WiFiber’ system that bridges existing infrastructure and adds capability and coverage to reach users in the mostly rural state of Arunachal Pradesh with fast and affordable Internet services.

Local community-based Internet infrastructure development and Internet utilization in rural Indonesia. Common Room. Indonesia. USD 150,000.

An existing partnership between Common Room, the Association for Progressive Communications, and the UK’s Digital Access Programme has resulted in the development of a School for Community Networking in the Kasepuhan Ciptagelar region of Indonesia.

This impact grant will help the school provide necessary infrastructure for a ‘build out’ to extend Internet deployment and training for indigenous and other rural communities in and around seven locations.

The project will provide towers, wireless equipment, servers, and training. It will also provide support as community-based Internet is rolled out, to help demonstrate ways the Internet can benefit these communities.

Equal access to information society in Myanmar. Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation. Myanmar. USD 150,000.

This project will help the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation combine and scale three programs: Mobile Information Literacy, Tech Age Girls Myanmar, and the Business Startup Development Program.

The Beyond Access project has already equipped 210 libraries around Myanmar with Internet, enabling 360,000 people to use a digital device for the first time. Telco Ooredoo Myanmar will invest in an additional 40 community libraries, mostly in underserved or unserved areas.

This impact grant will focus on equipping thousands of participants — primarily youth and women — at these 40 additional community libraries to develop digital literacy skills.

Broadband for all in Yap. Boom! Inc. Federated States of Micronesia. USD 85,000.

This project will establish an island-wide Fixed Wireless Access broadband network on the island of Yap.

In 2017, Yap to the world via high-speed submarine fibre-optic cable. There is still a lot of work to be done before this improved capacity can be used to provide broadband connectivity to island residents. In a recent proof-of-concept, Boom! was able to provide high speed connectivity to a school in Yap, having obtained the necessary licence and wavelength agreements. This scale-up grant will extend coverage to other parts of Yap.

Bamboo towers for low-cost and sustainable rural Internet connectivity. National Institute of Technology Silchar. India. USD 85,000.

This project is a collaboration among the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), National Institute of Technology Silchar (NIT Silchar), and Uravu from India. The project will develop and promote low-cost and sustainable bamboo communication towers to expand access to broadband networks in remote and rural areas of India. The scale-up grant will fund the development of detailed instructions on how to construct bamboo towers — including selection of bamboo, treatment, testing of bamboo culms and their joints, structural design considering connectivity requirements and structural specifications, optimization, foundation design, erection of the tower, and its maintenance. Towers will also be constructed to test the proposed methods, and they will be able to be built in any region. Detailed multimedia manuals will also be developed and available on a dedicated website.

OASIS data garden project. SATSOL. Solomon Islands. USD 85,000.

Some communities in the Solomon Islands are faced with the challenges of a lack of electricity for digital devices, and limited means to access money electronically. This means that residents have to travel to a town to access banknotes.

This scale-up grant will fund the development and proof-of-concept testing of a ‘data garden’ that will supply affordable connectivity, power, and a digital payment system.

An OASIS data garden can be easily transported to any remote location in the Solomon Islands via small boat or vehicle, and will operate autonomously. The data garden will support remote villages and communities where it can provide for individuals, households, businesses, schools, and clinics.

Internet connection to four villages in San Isidro. Davao Medical School Foundation (DMSF). The Philippines. USD 30,000.

This small grant project will connect four villages in the San Isidro municipality of Mindanao via Point to Point (P2P) data connections. A P2P connection is a closed network data transport service that traverses the public Internet but is inherently secure with no data encryption needed. A P2P network can also be configured to carry voice, video, Internet, and data services together over the same point to point connection. DMSF will partner with local organizations in each village to develop local capacity for maintenance and security.

Inclusive and efficient access to Internet services and information for persons with disabilities in Bangladesh. Humanity & Inclusion. Bangladesh. USD 30,000.

This project aims to assist people with visual disabilities in Bangladesh, by disseminating standards on accessible web design and screen-reading software.

Around 20% of the population of Bangladesh lives under the poverty line. As Internet adoption rapidly climbs, new opportunities in employment and education are presented via the Internet. However, people with visual disabilities face added challenges in Internet accessibility.

The project, funded with a small grant, will translate visual accessibility standards into the local language and train web developers in these standards. It will also engage in policy dialogue and advocacy for people with disabilities.

Empowering remote agricultural communities in Lao PDR through long-range wide area networks. Makerbox Lao. Lao PDR. USD 30,000.

This project will leverage the possibilities offered by low-power/long-range Internet of Things solutions to bridge the technological and communication divide between urban centres and remote agricultural communities in Lao PDR.

The small grant will help develop a prototype technology that uses long range (LoRa) wireless networking to relay agricultural data (such as soil, weather, and water information) from sensors in remote areas to forecasting experts, then relay that forecast information to farmers in a format that supports their work. The design also considers local conditions such as the absence of power grid connections by developing a solar power support, which LoRa is ideally suited to handle due to its low power consumption.

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Knowledge

Intelligent honeynet threat sharing platform. Swiss German University. Indonesia. USD 150,000.

This project will fully extend the design of the existing Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform [PDF] to provide a broader range of honeypot support, with intelligently categorized and correlated threat data, enabling organizations to share and exchange the threat information with other organizations with a consistent format.

This impact grant will support a partnership between Swiss German University, Badan Siber & Sandi Negara (Indonesia’s National Cyber and Crypto Agency), and the Indonesia Honeynet Project (IHP).

A range of economies are participating in the project, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, and Viet Nam.

Two previous ISIF Asia grants supported the development of the Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform, to link honeypots together in a Honeynet that collects information on malicious Internet traffic for a public dashboard. To facilitate cooperation among participants, the Cyber Security Community Information Sharing and Analysis Center (CSC-ISAC) was also established.

The project involved four types of honeypot: Cowrie (SSH honeypots), Dionaea (Multi-Service Honeypots), Elastichoney, and Conpots (Industrial Control Honeypots).

Developing a collaborative BGP routing, analyzing and diagnosing platform. Tsinghua University. China. USD 150,000.

This project is a collaboration between National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and research universities in the Asia Pacific, to build the kind of trust and BGP capabilities among NRENs that the wider BGP-speaking community relies upon. Currently, there is no large-scale cooperative monitoring system for BGP routing and no collaborative system for BGP hijacking and mitigation among Asia Pacific NRENs.

An earlier but ongoing project resulted in the development of a small-scale looking glass platform and BGP routing collection platform. This impact grant will expand the platform to a BGP hijacking detection and mitigation system and foster the emerging NREN network operations and security community. In addition, the team will analyze the robustness of routing in the Asia Pacific region and suggest how to improve the reliability of Internet routing through cooperative interconnections.

The organizations involved include CERNET (China), SingAREN (Singapore), ThaiREN (Thailand), BdREN (Bangladesh), LEARN (Sri Lanka), AfgREN (Afghanistan), MYREN (Malaysia), NREN Nepal (Nepal), APAN-JP (Japan), ERNET (India), DOST-ASTI/PREGINET (Philippines), HARNET/JUCC (Hong Kong), Gottingen University (Germany), Surrey University (UK), and Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication (China).

Bug Zero. SCoRe Lab. Sri Lanka. USD 85,000.

Bug bounties are when organizations offer rewards to those who are the first to report a problem in their software. This helps them stay ahead of emerging security vulnerabilities.

Bug bounty platforms have helped many organizations in advanced economies worldwide but South Asia has been hesitant to embrace them. Equipped with empirical research data on published results, SCoRe Lab has already started a bug bounty platform in Sri Lanka called Bug Zero.

This scale-up grant will help promote bug bounties as an effective tool for organizations, while also promoting them as a good economic opportunity for youth and encourage inclusion in an area that has generally been male-dominated.

Training and knowledge sharing: Network analysis for AI transformation. TeleMARS. Australia. USD 85,000.

Research from a previous ISIF Asia grant demonstrated that Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques can be used to resolve problems when detecting cyberattacks. This scale-up grant will help implement that work on a larger scale. This will involve strengthening knowledge sharing across Network Operator Groups (NOGs) and Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), developing training and mentoring resources, and improving professional capabilities in the areas of diagnosis, monitoring, and analysis of historical datasets.

Webinar series to support IPv6 knowledge transfer. India Internet Engineering Society (IIESoc). India. USD 30,000.

This project will continue a series of webinars that have helped enterprises develop IPv6 skills, supported by ISIF Asia through a 2020 grant.

It can be difficult to encourage enterprises to adopt IPv6. One of the issues is a lack of understanding about the technical aspects of IPv6 among some enterprise technicians. Sometimes, technicians seek training but management does not always see the business case for adoption. This small grant will continue and expand a previous series of webinars supported by ISIF Asia that have helped enterprises develop IPv6 skills, in an effort to combat a cycle of misinformation that makes enterprises hesitant to adopt IPv6.

DIY COW — An inclusive community operated wireless kit for enabling local communications at remote locations. Servelots Infotech. India. USD 30,000.

Using lessons learned during remote mentoring for young women in COVID-19 lockdowns, this project will create a Do It Yourself kit that will allow someone with no Internet access to set up a wireless access point with a local access server.

Establishing network connections in remote communities is difficult and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t always see a commercial case in establishing Internet services in small areas. This project funds the creation of kits that can be immediately deployed to connect these communities without relying on any existing Internet connection.

This small grant will help develop kits that allow for the rapid establishment of a server capable of hosting applications that can immediately be used by the community. The kit contains all the necessary instruction materials to be set up without an Internet connection. It can also be connected to the Internet when and if the Internet gateway becomes available, and the set-up materials can easily be adapted to other languages

Cybersecurity education. Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia. Cambodia. USD 30,000.

This project will create fun and accessible online learning content on security issues faced by the public and organizations while navigating the Internet. Cambodia is rapidly digitizing, due in part to the rapid adoption of smartphones. However, with increased Internet adoption comes an increase in cyber-threats. The Cambodian government is currently in discussions to establish a cyber-crime law.

In the meantime, there is a need for greater cybersecurity awareness. This project is a partnership between NGOs Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia and The Foundry. It will develop simple interactive videos and quizzes to test awareness and develop public knowledge about security threats they can encounter in their daily lives. This project, funded with a small grant, focuses on youth and women facing digital literacy challenges.

Design, development and operation of an SDN-based Internet eXchange playground for networkers. University of Malaya. Malaysia. USD 30,000.

Network operators have access to a variety of technical training programs, some include the use of simulations, which are useful to put theory into practice but can be limited to simple configurations for experiments.

This small grant will help build on existing training programs by developing an ‘Internet Exchange Playground’ with a Kubernetes cluster that can help introduce SDN-based BGP/RPKI/RDAP knowledge. The Kubernetes nodes will be scattered across different economies, allowing participants to experiment with cross-border network topologies. It will allow for use of VXLAN and SDN controllers in a WAN environment.

To enhance access, there will be four on-line training, tutorials and seminars aimed at fostering participation, particularly among women. The project will be fostering participation from Bhutan, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The APNIC Foundation thanks all applicants for sharing their ideas, the members of the Selection Committees for their hard work, and the Trust for supporting these projects. Technical reports on the projects will be published on the ISIF Asia website as they are completed.

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Report available! A novel graph analytics theory model to mitigate IoT botnets attacks for big data

The project led by Raihana Syahirah Abdullah, from the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication at the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) finalized their project and submitted their technical report.

The research focused on getting the parameter from raw infection codes using a reverse engineering approach as well as addressing the behaviours of IoT botnets. The main objective of the research was to develop a new model in detecting IoT botnets using graph analytics theory model with analysing the selection of influence feature factor. The output of this research is a scheme that is able to remove and quarantine the suspicious codes as well as able to detect the behaviour changes in the IoT devices. The model also can be used as a security tool to discover the real behaviors of IoT botnets from the raw infection codes that exists in particular IoT devices and machines.

The report is publicly available.

Congratulations to the ISIF Asia Grantees for 2019

This year ISIF Asia selected 6 organizations in the Asia Pacific to receive USD 20,000 to support research and development of Internet technologies for the benefit of the region. The ideas they submitted for the 2019 call for proposals highlight the main technical, operational and development issues that concern the Asia Pacific Internet community and concrete solutions to address them. This year’s funding round marks our 11th anniversary of operation in the Asia Pacific, and a total of USD 120,000 was allocated.

The application process this year, as the topics for our grants get more specialized, attracted highly relevant proposals and highlighted how a variety of stakeholders are working towards the development of the Internet. We see those as great indicators about the relevance of ISIF Asia as a mechanism to support the development of the Internet across the region. We received 70 proposals from 17 economies.

The funding will be distributed among organizations representing Private Sector (1) and Academia (5) across 5 economies: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand.

We are confident the outcomes of their work will continue to support an open, stable, and secure Internet that serves the needs of the people in our region.

2019 Network Operations Research Grants

  • Modelling and identifying IP address space fragmentation pressure points. Curtin University. Australia. USD 20,000
  • Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform. Swiss German University (SGU), Badan Siber & Sandi Negara (BSSN) and Indonesia Honeynet Project (IHP). Indonesia. USD 20,000
  • Implementation and Utilites of RDAP for wider usability among Internet Stakeholders. University of Malaya. Malaysia. USD 20,000
  • Network coding over satellite links: scheduling redundancy for better goodput. The University of Auckland. New Zealand. USD 20,000

2019 I4D Powering Internet Infrastructure Grants

  • Telemetering the telltale signs of power issues of wireless internet relays. Rural Broadband – AirJaldi. India. USD 20,000
  • Network Remote Powering through Quasi-Passive Optical Nodes. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University). Australia. USD 20,000

The 2019 I4D Award was not granted this year, instead one additional grant under the Network Operations Research was allocated.

The APNIC Foundation and ISIF Asia thanks all the applicants for sharing their ideas with us, the Selection Committees members for their hard work to arrive to this great outcome, and to APNIC for their generous funding contributions for 2019.

Congratulations to the ISIF Asia Grants and Awards winners for 2018

This year ISIF Asia will award USD 210,000 to 10 organizations in the Asia Pacific to support research and development of Internet technologies for the benefit of the region. This year’s funding round marks our 10th anniversary of operation in the Asia Pacific.

We received 236 applications in total for the four funding categories that were announced earlier this year. The applications came from 28 economies across the region. We were very excited to see that around 60% of the applications received were submitted for our new “Gender Empowerment and Innovation” category. It was also very encouraging to receive applications from economies that have never applied for our funding before. Similarly, the application process reflected a variety of stakeholders working towards the development of the Internet. We see those as great indicators about the relevance of ISIF Asia as a mechanism to support the development of the Internet across the region.

The funding will be distributed among organizations representing a wide variety of stakeholders: Government (1), Civil Society (3), Private Sector (2), Social Enterprise (1), and Academia (3) as well as very interesting geographical spread across 9 economies: Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, The Philippines, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Awards

The ISIF Asia 2018 Award winners will each receive USD 3,500 plus a travel grant to the 2018 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that will be held in Paris, France from 12 to 14 November 2018. Their work will be featured as part of the Seed Alliance Awards ceremony, which will be held on 13 November 2018.

“The 2018 ISIF Asia Award winners are truly innovative initiatives, where access to Internet technologies with a social purpose, clearly show a positive impact to improve the lives of people in the communities they serve in the Philippines and Myanmar. Their experiences and knowledge help overcome the challenges that the developing world faces,” Duncan Macintosh, APNIC Foundation CEO said.

Award winners

Community Networks

  • Community Cellular Networks in Rural Aurora, University of the Philippines – Diliman, The Philippines.

In partnership with a local telecom, the team has developed and deployed a GSM Community Cellular Network in rural Philippines to bridge ‘last mile’ connectivity issues in isolated and relatively poor communities. As of 2017, they have also begun deploying them in partnership with local NGOs, primarily cooperatives, to provide basic cellular services to subscribers.

Gender Empowerment and Innovation

  • Tech Age Girls Myanmar, Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, Myanmar.

This initiative has successfully supported female community leaders (aged between 16-20) through the ‘Tech Age Girls’ program from community libraries that have been playing a key role in digital inclusion and gender equality in Myanmar. The finalists are selected to implement their own community projects ideas to support their communities.

Grants

As Head of Programs for the APNIC Foundation, I am really impressed by the proposals selected for the ISIF Asia 2018 Grants and how they highlight the main technical, operational and development issues that concern the Asia Pacific Internet community. I am confident the outcomes of their work will continue to support an open, stable, and secure Internet that serves the needs of the people in our region. The APNIC Foundation is particularly glad to see how the distribution of funds reflect regional and stakeholder diversity and the clear links that every project has to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Grant winners

Network Operations Research

  • Measuring and Detecting Network Interference in Southeast Asia, Sinar Project, Malaysia. Grant award: USD 20,000.

This network measurement research aims to show current and past Internet censorship and network interference in media, political criticism, religion, gender and social media networks in South East Asian economies using network monitoring nodes around the region. There will also be a pilot gender gap social audit conducted for a marginalized urban community in Malaysia to research and measure non-technical gaps in Internet access such as affordability, Internet literacy, knowledge or rights, and accessibility and availability of gender-related content.

  • Establishment of a Carrier Neutral Software-Defined Internet Exchange (IXP) Point and Training Programs for Capacity Building in Managing IXPs, Lahore University of Management Sciences – LUMS, Pakistan. Grant award: USD 30,000.

This project aims to deploy a Software-Defined IXP and training programs for IXP development in Pakistan to assist operators to enable new applications such as application-specific testing, traffic redirection through middleboxes, and inbound traffic engineering. While the project centres on a Pakistan IXP, it will eventually be made available to other least developed economies in the region. Another benefit of the project will see costs associated with IXPs reduced via automatic configuration management and dynamic policy assignment.

Community Networks

  • Community LTE in Papua, Yayasan Noken Baliem Mandiri, Indonesia. Grant award: USD 23,000.

This project seeks to deploy the first locally-owned and operated handset to support LTE networks in the world to rural Papua, Indonesia, using low-cost eNodeBs and a custom developed enhanced packet core. YNBM was granted a special experimental cellular license to explore this new rural access technology in Indonesia by the Indonesian Telecom Ministry.

  • Connecting the Unserved – Bhutan’s First Trial with TV White Space Technology, NANO, Bhutan. Grant award: USD 30,000.

Given Bhutan’s challenging physical environment and Internet connectivity issues, this project aims to explore the feasibility and suitability of TV white space technology as an alternative broadband option to unserved areas in the economy.

Cybersecurity

  • RPKI Monitor and Visualizer for Detecting and Alerting for RPKI Errors, ZDNS Labs, China. Grant award: USD 30,000.

This project will implement a RPKI security mechanism to offer a distributed, stakeholder-based counter to the power imbalances arising from RPKI’s hierarchical system. The proposed mechanism detects adverse actions in the RPKI and alerts resource holders to these actions that adversely affect their holding, so that errors can be quickly fixed. The mechanism also enables each ISP to decide whether to accept or defer accepting PRKI database changes that appear to be adverse.

  • A novel graph analytics theory model to mitigate IoT botnets attacks for big data, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM), Malaysia. Grant award: USD 13,000.

This research aims to use the Graph Analytics Theory model to analyse the behaviour of IoT botnets using a reverse engineering approach to distinguish IoT botnets from raw infection codes and develop a new Graph Analytics Theory model for detecting IoT botnet attacks. The expected outcome of the research is to be able to remove and quarantine the suspicious codes as well as be able to detect behaviour changes in IoT devices.

Gender Empowerment and Innovation

  • NextGen Girls – Internet Security Ambassadors Project, Shilpa Sayura Foundation, Sri Lanka. Grant award: USD 30,000.

This project aims to upscale the ISOC 25 Under 25 Award winner, ‘Respect Girls on Internet’, by developing a network of university and high school girls studying ICT. The goal is to develop females to pursue emerging IoT security careers to help build a safer and secure IoT environment for women, including training 40 female university students to become Internet Security Educators.

  • Increasing the Safe Use of Internet by Women and Girls, Child Helpline Cambodia, Cambodia. Grant award: USD 22,000.

This is a project to strengthen the capabilities of 16 existing helpline ambassadors on the safe use of the Internet and how to report online abuse to Child helpline Cambodia. The 16 ambassadors will organize five pilot ‘echo awareness’ sessions on the safe use of the Internet for girls and women in their communities. The project will also support: free helpline telephones; an online question and answer platform, with information on the safe use of the Internet and gender equality; response to reports of online abuse; and refer victims to psycho-social support services.

The APNIC Foundation and ISIF Asia thanks all the applicants for sharing their ideas with us, the Selection Committee members for their hard work to arrive to this great outcome, and to APNIC, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Internet Society for their generous funding contributions for 2018.

TINDAK MALAYSIA: Towards A Fairer Electoral System

Tindak Malaysia is the winner of the ISIF Asia 2016 Technical Innovation Award and the Community Choice Award 2016.

TINDAK MALAYSIA: Towards A Fairer Electoral System –
1 Person, 1 Vote, 1 Value

A democracy is reflected in the sovereignty of the people. They are supposed to have the power to choose their leaders under Free and Fair Elections. Unfortunately, those in power will try to manipulate the electoral system to entrench their grip on power. Attempts to manipulate the system could be…

  • in tweaking the rules of elections in their favour,
  • in the control of the mainstream media,
  • through threats,
  • through bribery,
  • through the pollsters to manipulate public perception,
  • during the vote count,
  • by making election campaigns so expensive that only the rich or powerful could afford to run or win.
  • through boundary delineation either by gerrymandering, or through unequal seat size.

The Nov 2016 US Presidential Election threw up all of the above in sharp contrast. There were two front runners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Both candidates were disliked by more than half the electorate,

Both candidates generated such strong aversion that a dominant campaign theme was to vote for the lesser evil. The people were caught in the politics-of-no-choice.
Eventually, the winning candidate won, with slightly less votes (0.3%), than the losing candidate, each winning only 27% of the electorate. Yet the delegates won by the winner was 306 (57%) while the loser got 232 (43%), a huge difference!

The winning candidate won with barely a quarter of the total voting population. 43% of the voters did not vote. In other words, only 27% of the electorate decided on the President.

Consider Malaysia. We are located in South-east Asia. We have a population of 31 million with about 13.5 million registered voters. We practise a First-Past-The-Post System of elections, meaning the winner takes all, just like in the US.

In the 2013 General Elections, the Ruling Party obtained 47.4% of the votes and 60% of the seats. Meanwhile the opposition, with 52% of the votes, won only 40% of the seats – more votes, but much fewer seats.

We had all the problems listed above except that no opinion polls were allowed on polling day. But the most egregious problem of all was boundary delimitation, which is the subject of our project.

In 2013, the Ruling Party with 47.4% of the popular vote, secured 60% of the seats. To hang on to power, they resorted to abuse and to change of the laws to suppress the Opposition and the people. Our concern was that continuing oppression of the people in this manner could lead to violent protests. It was our hope to achieve peaceful change in a democratic manner through the Constitution.

From a Problem Tree Analysis, it was found that the problem was cyclic in nature. The root cause was a Fascist Government maintaining power through Fraudulent Elections. See red box opposite.
Problem Tree Analysis

 

problem-tree-analysis-of-the-rat-race_a

If current conditions prevail without any changes, they can still win power with just 39% of the votes.
50-Year General Elections Voting Trend

historical-ge-records-up-to-ge13_comments

What happened?

Malapportionment! The seats won by the Ruling Party in the chart below are the blue lines with small number of voters in the rural seats. The red lines with huge numbers are in the urban areas won by the Opposition. It was found that they could have won 50% of the seats with merely 20.22% of the votes.
Malapportionment in General Elections – GE213

 

ge13-voter-size-graph_2

The above computation was based on popular vote. If based on total voting population, BN needed only 17.4% to secure a simple majority.

What is the solution we propose?

The solution was obvious. Equalize the seats.
But for the past 50 years, no one seemed to object to the unfair maps.

Why? The objectors never managed to submit a substantive objection because:

  • Biased EC stacked with Ruling Party cronies, who actively worked to prevent any objections being made,
  • Constitution rules of delimitation drafted to make objections difficult, such that the EC had a lot of leeway to interpret it anyway it wished.
  • Very high barriers to objection,
  • Insufficient information offered during a Redelineation exercise. Given the 1-month deadline, it was impossible for an ordinary voter to prepare a proper objection.

How are Constituencies Drawn – Districting?

map-1-selangor-pd2013

We start with a Polling District (PD). The PD is the smallest unit of area in a Constituency. It is defined by a boundary, a name and/ID Code, and includes elector population. Map 1 is an example of PD. To avoid clutter, the elector numbers are carried in separate layer which can be overlaid on top.

Districting is conducted by assembling these PD into Constituencies. In theory, the Constituencies are supposed to have roughly the same number of electors, unless variation is permitted in the Constitution.

What happens when the Election Commission presents a map without any PD as shown in Map 2 below.
MAP 2 – EC’S SELANGOR REDELINEATION PROPOSAL 2016

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This was gazetted by the EC on 15th Sept 2016 for public objections. No Polling Districts are identified. In reality, the EC had all the information in digital format under an Electoral Geographical Information System (EGIS) but they kept it from the public.

An elector faced with such a map, is stuck. He would not know where to begin. Neither did he have the technical knowledge to carry out the redistricting even if he wanted to, all within the time limit of 1 month.

This has been the case for the past 50 years. No one could object effectively.

So we had a situation where electors wanted to object but were unable to do so because of insufficient information and lack of expertise.

Studying the problem, we decided that the solution was to bridge the Digital Divide through Technical Innovation as well as to bring the matter out of the jurisdiction of the EC.

Technical:

  1. Digitize all the PD in Malaysia, about 8000 of them. This took us 1 year.
  2. Learn how to redistrict using digital systems. We used QGIS, an open source GIS system,
  3. Develop a plug-in to semi-automate and speed up the redistricting process.

Legal:

  1. Bring in legal expertise. Collaborate with lawyers to bring the matter out of the control of the EC and into the jurisdiction of the courts in order to defend the Constitution.

We started this initiative in July 2011 and by Dec 2015, we had digitised all the PD and redistricted the whole country twice, sharpening our expertise and correcting errors in the process. We got the Bar Council (Lawyers Association) to team up with us to guide the public on how to object when the Redelineation exercise by the EC is launched.

Redelineation, 1st Gazette:

On 15th Sept 2016, the EC published the First Gazette of the Redelineation Proposal. For the State of Selangor with 22 Parliamentary seats, they published one map only – MAP 2. We analysed their proposal and found glaring disparities in the seat sizes with elector population ranging from 39% to 200% of the State Electoral Quota (EQ) – MAP 3

MAP 3 – SELANGOR MALAPPORTIONMENT OF PROPOSED PARLIAMENT SEATS 2016

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At a more detailed level, it looks like MAP 4 below. We can see the densely populated central belt (brown columns) sticking out in sharp contrast to the under-populated outlying regions around the perimeter – ochre areas). Clearly the EC has not addressed the inequalities in the voting strength among the various regions.

MAP 4 – SELANGOR VOTER DENSITY

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Trial Run: We conducted a trial run on the EC maps for a local council in Selangor – MPSJ. See MAP 4. It was found that we could maintain local ties with 6 State and 2 Parliamentary Constituencies, with the elector population kept within +/-20% of the mean. This was much better than the EC’s range of -60% to +100%.

MAP 5 – LOCAL COUNCIL MPSJ

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We have submitted objections for the First Gazette and await the call for a public hearing by the EC. Our lawyers are monitoring the EC to ensure they comply with the Constitution and preparing lawsuits in case they don’t.

While conducting our research on how to object, we uncovered yet another area of abuse. The boundaries of the polling districts and electors within, had been shifted to other constituencies unannounced. This was a surreptitious form of redelineation outside the ambit of the constitution and a gross abuse of authority. As part of our next project, we intend to focus on this, to prevent such gerrymandering.

In conclusion, we feel like we are peeling an onion. As we unfold one layer, a new layer of fraud is exposed. It was a never-ending process. But we are determined to keep on digging until we reach the core and achieve our goal of Free and Fair Elections.

By Robert Mitchell, APNIC

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

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

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

Sinar project in action
Sinar project in action

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How has your project progressed after receiving the Grant?

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

Other achievement include:

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

What should nominees include in their applications?

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

Google for Nonprofits Expands to 10 Asia-Pacific Economies

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Congratulations to non-governmental organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. In partnership withTechSoup, Google is now expanding its Google for Nonprofits program to ten new economies: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Nonprofits can now apply to join the program to access a suite of free Google products and tools, including:

  • Google Ad Grants: Free AdWords advertising to promote their website on Google through keyword targeting.
  • Google Apps for Nonprofit: A free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program: Build their online presence with YouTube and overlay cards on their videos that link directly to their website.

Personally, I’ve used the Google for Nonprofits platform at two different organizations and it was a game-changer at both, specifically Google Apps.

The service can power enterprise-grade email services with a few clicks, giving organizations a legitimate [email protected] email address (ie. not Gmail.com or Yahoo.com) and powerful email support systems that are actually easy to use. Google Apps also comes with their Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Forms tools, which can totally replace the Microsoft Office software suite and I find far superior to Microsoft’s online software products.

Nonprofits organizations can also leverage One Today, Google’s fundraising platform for Android devices. The app highlights cool projects from different organizations each day, and users can donate if they want to support the cause.

So if you have an NGO in the 10 new economies, get Google for Nonprofits today. You’ll be so glad you did!

ECHO: Improving Organizational Communications in Indonesia with Automated SMS and Email

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eHomemakers (eH), a Malaysian social enterprise with a vision to empower disadvantaged women, innovated and developed ECHO from the grassroot perspective. Necessity being the mother of invention, eHomemakers created the ECHO concept for non-profit organizations to save staff time and telecommunication resources as a means to overcome a lack of funding to market disadvantaged women’s ecobaskets.

From an integrated tool for middle class volunteers to use email to coordinate activities at the least cost possible to a message recipient platform for the poor, ECHO has developed into a cloud-based organizational management system using internet-mobile. ECHO enables organization to reach out to large groups of people in diverse locations through email and SMS via a centralized database. Its latest technical feature enhancement provides user friendliness to the visually impaired persons in full compliance with international guidelines.

With the help of a few national and international funders, 35 non-government organizations (NGOs) in Malaysia are now able to utilize ECHO and make substantial cost savings on their communications resources. Recent ECHO developments include deployment in Indonesia through HomeNet Indonesia (HI) for the purpose of increasing homeworkers’ fair wages. In alignment with Fair Trade concepts, HI uses its business center to bring homeworker members’ products directly to the market without recourse to middlemen.

ECHO Technology

ECHO technology involves 3 components –

  1. An application server (Web server)
  2. Mobile app causing phones to act as SMS gateways
  3. Target recipient’s mobile phones to receive and reply SMS.
  4. The mobile app was developed to allow android phones to act as SMS modems and thereby overcome the expense of renting SMS gateways from national telecoms providers. It represents a minimal cost solution to NGOs.

    ECHO Functionality

    The ability of this powerful planning and organizing tool to send either email or SMS in bulk, as well as auto-summarizing replies with reports, provides a proven means for increased productivity (instant replies) and substantial savings on total admin staff costs. ECHO can be utilized for activities such as, but not limited to:

    • Invitation and confirmations from members for upcoming events, meetings, trainings, seminars, volunteer activity placements
    • Conducting surveys on groups and target segments
    • Group sourcing of raw materials
    • Organizing production chains
    • Consolidation of sales items from marketing networks
    • Bulk marketing of goods and services produced by beneficiaries and members

    ECHO and HI Indonesia

    HomeNet Indonesia (HI), also known as Mitra Wanita Pekerja Rumahan Indonesia (MWPRI), is a national network of NGOs that addresses concerns regarding the welfare and socio-economic well being of home-based working members. These workers generally are poor women with low education or literacy levels, live in rural and urban areas, and struggle to earn a livelihood through jobs issued from sub-contractors, middlemen or brokers. HI, in collaboration with eH, is currently paving the way for poverty alleviation through Fair Trade with the use of ECHO.

    In order for HI to pay a Fair Trade wage to its members, there must be cost reductions in administration, marketing, and procurement of raw materials. The use of ECHO allows for savings of up to 98% in costs associated with organizing. As an example situation, an HI business center staff member receives an Internet order of a product. This staff member then distributes a single ECHO message to 100 makers, whereby they are requested to each provide their own production number for this product. These makers revert to confirm their production amount, and the staff member next checks the cumulative total of quoted units against the number required in the order. The staff member can subsequently revert to the customer with a very fast turnaround to accept or decline his/her order, and initiate production activities. Admin costs without ECHO are much higher due to the necessity of phone calls, one-to-one SMS, or face-to-face meeting.

    The business center method provides efficiency gains that effectively enable Fair Wage (under Fair Trade principles), which allows the poor to receive better remuneration and lessen the trappings of poverty.

    Hurdles

    Hurdles in deploying ECHO in HI can be categorized into either 1) technological, or 2) human aspects.

    Technological hurdles within Indonesia include unstable mobile signal coverage, latency in sending and receiving SMS (5 mins to 12 hours), and unstable Internet that delays SMS response. These drawbacks will be increasingly diminished in coming years, as Indonesia’s high economic growth spurs greater investment in telco infrastructure and a consequent better technology performance.

    Resistance to change is commonly found during organizational development phases. The ease of acceptance of ICT is far higher for younger home workers than for the older generation. Women home workers who have limited education often feel that they are too old to learn new technology, and some of them cite difficulty as the reason behind their reluctance to use SMS (send and reply). Calling from a phone kiosk is much faster for them, albeit at a far higher cost.

    An entrenched manual-based organizational work culture presents a barrier in implementing ICT, wherein a considerable amount of time is typically required for workers to internalize training session information and apply new ICT basic skills. This gap of understanding was found to exist among office workers above 40 years of age who were familiar with a paper-laden office culture, wherein decision-making was centralized and dictated by the top management. In such environments, lower level staff would print emails for senior staff to read, and transcript electronic replies on behalf of these senior staff.

    Changing from an NGO management style into one more suited to a social enterprise resulted in HI coming under considerable pressure to deliver: HI needed to get the business center moving as soon as possible and adequately organize homeworkers to produce quality products for sale. The staff of HI found themselves pushing to improve the prevalent mentality towards work and communication efficiency.

    Engagement and future

    Many ICT-based social development projects are experimental, and therefore new to the providers as well as the end-users. At this point, 300 out of 10000 HI members were selected to participate in the ECHO training course. Deploying ECHO in HI has led to change momentum being initiated, whereby participants recognized the inherent advantages and loosened their embrace of the old style.

    The use of ECHO for HI enabled the organization to realize the extent of their learning curve in order to cope with office ICT. A few key personnel have learnt additional IT-based project management skills and awareness of hitherto unknown tools such as online photo storage for products.

    HI members are becoming more aware of utilizing ICT and SMS, and are thus able to achieve greater reach with less cost and more effectiveness. Campaigns on issues related to women homeworkers are distributed through social media, and so become a source of information for cases, problems, and the needs of women homeworkers in Indonesia.

    It is acknowledged that HI requires more time to increase the capacity and spread the habit of using ICT, since HI staff and its members are not familiar with technology in their daily lives. Nevertheless, positive signs have emerged since the key phase of change momentum has been initiated. As such, the next step of reaching out to the remaining 9700 HI members is anticipated with a sense of optimism to match the altruistic vision of the founders.

    By Yeo Lee Chin, Usability Coordinator (ECHO), eHomemakers

Sinar Project: Promoting Governmental Accountability in Malaysia

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Malaysia has been governed by the same political party, Barisan Nasional, since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. Barisian Nasional’s policies, which strongly favor ethnic Malay’s, have begun to lose support among young and minority voters, culminating in the 2013 elections when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim won the popular vote. Despite the polling results, and amid allegations of voter fraud, Ibrahim lost the election.

The 2013 elections were a high-level indicator of the systemic lack of transparency and accountability in the Malaysian political system. According to the World Bank’s Governance Indicators, Malaysia is in just the 37th percentile for “voice and accountability.” These measures indicate an individual’s ability to participate in selecting their government, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.

The Sinar Project, an ISIF Asia award winning non-profit organization, is seeking to fill the void in governmental transparency and accountability in Malaysia via open-source technology. Sinar is producing platforms which help monitor all levels of government, from local municipalities to parliament.

Corruption Monitoring

In Ernest and Young’s 2013 Asia-Pacific fraud survey, almost 40% of respondents said that corruption and bribery are widespread in Malaysia. That figure is nearly double the average of the rest of the region. In order to bring awareness to the corruption of the Malaysian political system, Sinar launched their Accountable platform in 2012.

Accountable is a web application which actively tracks the people, issues, and organizations related to Malaysian corruption. The data is presented in a searchable, tab separated manner, allowing the Malaysian public to easily monitor the activities of, and allegations against, their elected officials. Sinar will soon add an additional monitoring feature to Accountable, indicating the status of individual cases, including data on the case out come (i.e. false allegation, money returned, and criminal charges brought).

A second anti-corruption tool that Sinar has developed is their Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) database. Corruption in the Malaysian construction industry is at a “serious level”, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Utilizing scrapers, the CIDB monitors and aggregates construction project data in real-time, producing a readable CSV document. The CIDB database provides detailed information on all public-private projects, including contact information for company directors, budgets, contractor details, and registration numbers.

Governmental Accountability

Sinar’s most advanced accountability project, AduanKu, was launched in January of 2014. The platform enables users to report problems (think potholes, faulty street lights, etc.) directly to their local municipalities. Problems can be reported through a web portal with a smartphone or computer, and an app-based platform is coming soon. Once a user submits a problem, AduanKu sends an official report via email to the relevant Council. These reports contain mapping info of the problem location, a detailed description, and photographs when available.

The local user is then able to monitor their council’s response, and utilize a feature in AduanKu to publicly comment on whether appropriate action was taken. This interaction makes local municipalities directly accountable to their taxpayers, with municipal performance data publicly available through AduanKu. The Subang Jaya Municipal Council, for example, has had 292 problems reported, fixing 115 of them. AduanKu is currently available in a limited number of municipalities, but Sinar plans to expand the service throughout Malaysia.

Sinar also has a variety accountability projects on the national scale. Their BillWatcher application enables Malaysian citizens to monitor the status of upcoming bills in both the national parliament and state assemblies. Their Malaysian Representatives project aims to provide citizens with background information on all members of Parliament, including contact information, work history, and known assets.

While these applications are informational in nature, they help create transparency in the Malaysian political system by educating the voting public about the actions of their elected officials. For a nation with a voter turnout of over 84%, this sort of transparency can go a long way to bringing about change.

All of the Sinar Project’s code is open source, and can be found on GitHub here.