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! NextGen Girls – Internet Security Ambassadors Project

The NextGen Girls initiative included creating an IoT and Security Curriculum including Internet governance, Privacy, IPV6, IoT, Networking, Information Security and open web technologies and training 40 female University students to become Internet Security Educators. They in turn, trained 160 of their peers, and make awareness to 800 high school girls in IoT safety. The training was delivered through 8 workshops at 4 universities, 24 live online training sessions, 2 meetups and an IoT hackathon among girls.

The main outcome of the NextGen Girls project is the development of a sustainable network of women specializing in IoT and security, advocating IoT safety and enable support for victims while increasing women participation in IoT and Security field. In the long term, the NextGen Girls community will support women to show leadership in the emerging IoT industry, increase safety and advancement of women.

Shilpa Sayura partners, AlgoHack community, Google education, Computer Society and ISOC Sri Lanka worked together to implement NextGen Girls initiative.

NextGen Girls aims to scale up the project “Respect Girls on Internet” which was awarded the ISOC 25 Under 25 Award and received an ISOC Beyond The Net Community Grant. The project developed a network of university and high school girls studying ICT. The goal of the project is to support young women professional development to pursue emerging IoT security careers, that in turn will help build safer and secure IoT environment at homes, workplaces and communities.


The emergence of pocket-sized computing devices, capable of electronic switching, sensing, controlling equipment, video, and audio has created a new paradigm shift in home automation, business, agriculture, transport, environmental technologies. IoT systems use internet to interconnect. Unsecure home uses of IoT can endanger safety and breach privacy of individuals and families. Women are particularly vulnerable as IoT misuse has facilitated revenge porn incidents, harassment, data breach, as well as scams. Online safety activitists recommend that women seek suppor from other women in the event of IoT breach, as seeking support from a male technician can pose additional risks. The project proposed approach is to develop IoT and security skills among women to safeguard their homes, workplaces, and community from IoT breaches. Women becoming IoT security experts immensely contributes to gender equality, diversity, and growth in female participation in the IoT economy.

The report is publicly available.

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.

Apply Now for 2015 eNGO Challenge

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The 2015 eNGO Challenge Award aspires to create an ecosystem by recognizing and honouring NGOs which are using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools for good governance and practices that are benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of Public Interest Registry (PIR) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

The eNGO Challenge is open in six categories for best use of ICT, mobile, digital media & new or social media by an NGO for:

    • Best Use of Website & Internal Tools (Website):website
      This category focuses on NGOs that are using website to showcase their activities, projects and local content to get networking and support from funding agencies. This category also welcomes NGOs that create awareness on certain issues through campaigning.

 

  • Best Use of Mobile content & Apps (Mobile):mobile
    This category focuses on NGOs that have used mobile tools/Apps for their internal &external communication to drive social change. For example,an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses connectivity through mobile phones, sms, video calling or any other means to engage and empower communities at large.

 

 

  • Best Use of e-Commerce (e-Commerce):ecommerce
    This category focuses on NGOs who have used ICT and digital media tools such as e-Commerce, mobile phones, online shopping and social media networkssuch as Facebook & Twitter to promote their business meant for the benefit of a community. For example, an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that usesa website or social media networks for the promotion and trading of products for the benefit of a community.

 

 

  • Best Use of Software Automation & Networking (Tools):tools
    This category focuses on NGOs that use digital media tools for improving and enhancing their organizational efficiency by using networking and software tools such as Wi-Fi, Skype, Tally etc. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category thatuses video-conferencing technology to connect with their regional partners or does staff capacity building program with various ICT tools.

 

 

  • Best Use of social Media (Social Media): Slocial Media
    The category focuses on NGOs that use social media as a tool to get solutions for and from the communities. For example, an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses Facebook and twitter to engage communities or inform them about issues.

 

 

  • Best use of e-Content (incl. Audio / Visual / Radio): econtent
    The category focuses on NGOs that empower people to use video or radio to help communities raise their voice for their problems. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that facilitates people to record video or participate through community radio to share messages or register complains or highlight social issues.

 

The eNGO Challenge Award is open to any registered NGO from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are no charges applicable for the eNGO Challenge Award Nomination process.

Your NGO should fulfill the conditions of being an active & ICT based organization. Interested entities can take part in eNGO Challenge by either applying online or contacting expert panel for the nomination process through [email protected]

Overcoming School Failure in Rural Sri Lanka with Shilpa Sayura

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In Sri Lanka, the school is free, and the country has, therefore, an excellent educational record. Basic literacy rate is one of the highest in Asia, and the teacher-pupil ratio is up to 1:20.

And yet, when looking at the smaller picture, the situation turns out to be less glowing. In 2011, a study showed that 20 percent among the rural poor never make it to secondary school, dropping out before Grade 5.

This is in part due to financial reasons, as many rural parents cannot meet the hidden costs of their children’s education. School failure also comes from a lack of qualified teachers and educational resources. Ill-prepared, a majority of students fails to pass the junior high school entrance examination.

Helping his daughter out

In 2004, Niranjan Meegammana witnessed his daughter’s failure at school. His family used to live in a rural town, but at the time, he was working in Colombo. He could not provide daily support to Poornima, and her academic performance slipped.

Had Niranjan been uneducated, the girl would have never got to junior high school. But her father was the first person in his village to ever graduate from college, and he believed education was important. As he could not afford private tuitions for his daughter, he turned to the Internet.

The Shilpa Sayura journey

Being a web specialist, Niranjan had heard of e-learning, and he decided to give it a try. He created an online course based on his daughter’s textbook. Immediately, Poornima’s grades improved. At the end of the school year, she passed her O level exam, and she was even top of her class.

Niranjan was impressed by her daughter’s achievement. He also started believing he could help other rural kids succeed in their studies. He made the leap in 2006; it was the beginning of the Shilpa Sayura journey. A few dedicated teachers got involved, and together, they designed an innovative e-learning program. Eight years later, their impact on rural education in Sri Lanka has been unprecedented.

Educational pragmatism

In 2006, Niranjan’s priority was to improve the learning experience of the students. Being a practical man, he decided that all the lessons would be in Sinhalese and Tamil, Sri Lanka’s primary languages. He also adapted the content to the local context and developed interactive movies and animations to make studying more exciting for these rural kids.

In a country where the national curriculum is based on the British teaching model of the 1950s, the Shilpa Sayura method was somewhat of a revolution. But for the students, it made the difference. They could not only relate to the content; they could also study at their own pace, either by themselves or with their friends. As a result, they have become more engaged in their studies, and the retention rate has skyrocketed!

Reaching the rural youth

Niranjan’s other achievement is to have actually reached the rural youth. In that respect, the partnership with the “Nenasala Telecenters” has been a critical move.

These Telecenters were launched in 2005. It was an initiative of the Prime Minister who aimed at expanding the access to ICTs. There are now 700 Telecenters, and they are disseminated throughout the country, even in the most rural areas.

Today, the Shilpa Sayura program is available in 150 Telecenters. Students are free to come and use the computers to further train themselves or upload the materials onto their SIM card. And since there are more than 14,000 lessons and 7,000 tests covering both the primary and secondary curricula, Telecenters have become highly popular!

New opportunities for the rural youth

Since 2007, 80,000 young people have taken part in the Shilpa Sayura program. And everywhere, grades have improved.

In Siyambalanduwa, for example, the pass rate for the O level exam in mathematics has increased from 51.2 to 78.2 percent. In Lahugalla, a war-affected and poor village, some two students got a high distinction for their results in math. And in Thalakumbura, young priests even managed to pass the examination for national school.

As for Poornima, she made her way to college, developing over the years amazing creative skills. In 2011, she became an Adobe Youth Voices scholar, and she recently produced an award-winning short movie on child soldiers in Sri Lanka!

Will Wikipedia Zero Inspire Local Language Content?

wiki-zero

The Wikimedia Foundation has launched Wikipedia Zero in Bangladesh, India Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand over the last two years. Wikipedia Zero is a “zero-rate” program that allows users to browse Wikipedia entries on their mobile phones for free thanks to a partnership between Wikimedia and the mobile carrier.

Wikimedia’s goal is to enable access to free knowledge for every single person on the planet, leveraging the ubiquity of the mobile phone. However, that information currently exists mainly in English. There are just 109,404 posts in Hindi for the 295 million native Hindi speakers, while the 365 million English speakers get 4,413,036 Wikipedia articles (and counting) to learn from.

And while I enjoy the benefits of English language domination on the public Internet, I feel we should pause a moment and think a bit about the pros and cons of yet another bastion of English being offered as a gift to the world.

Might it be better if Wikipedia Zero came with social cues and gamification that inspired more Hindi posts? Its not like the Indian government’s Vikaspedia will succeed by itself.

We need to recognize and empower all languages equally, so that the Internet can truly reflect the diversity that is our reality. We need a Wikipedia Plus that adds local knowledge, not just disseminates others’ distant information.