FOSS infrastructure for Open Digital Villages

iFOSSF writes “FOSS infrastructure for Open Digital Villages (ODiVs): iFOSSF and oneVillage Foundation Partner to Create a Difference

April 10, 2007 San Jose CA USA – oneVillage Foundation has partnered with the International Free and Open Source Software Foundation (iFOSSF) on efforts to develop “Telecenter Portals and Applications.” OVF believes that iFOSSF’s knowledge and vision is vital to the development of its Open Digital Villages (ODiVs), the first of which will be in Winneba, Ghana (WODiV).

Background: OVF staff helped organized and participated in the AirJaldi Summit in Dharamsala, India in Oct. 06, which showcased one of the largest wireless networks in the world – The Dharamsala Wireless Mesh. At the event, low-cost wireless mesh network technology including cantennas (about antennas made out of cans) was tested. The Wireless Roadshow Workshop also enabled participants to discuss plans for organizing events to promote wireless connectivity around the WODiV including the WSFIIAfrica2007 Summit, planned for later this year in Winneba.

The local Linux User Group (Winneba Linux User Group – WiLUG) is playing a key role in the development of the WODiV. In December of last year, WiLUG volunteers received their first Drupal open source training as well as a series of other trainings increasing awareness of Linux and FOSS. oneVillage Ghana, in collaboration with the University of Education Winneba Ghana (UEW), Wireless Ghana and other institutions has been developing a plan for a WiMax backbone and WiFi mesh local distribution system to serve a region with two other towns and a population of 105,000.

Converging the Networks:

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) offers benefits for people in developing countries including facilitating access to and increasing ownership of ICT for Human Development;
Community Wireless Networks is changing the way we see and share information by promoting the development of economically sustainable local wireless networks;
Sustainable technology “Bioneers” are developing new appropriate technologies to empower local people economically and socially without degrading and destroying the environment.
WODiV Goals:

Develop portal infrastructure that can be replicated to other communities;
Promote access and develop confidence in FOSS applications by identifying and integrating applicable ICT4SD FOSS tools for each region;
Provide FOSS training and job skill development, training students on how to use for their own and their community’s empowerment;
Operate as model for rapidly replicating booming multimedia ICT training facility/social enterprises;
Provide center for youth & people all ages to learn basic & advanced ICT skills;
Promote sustainable human habitats and production systems;
What is an Open Digital Village?
The (WODiV) is being designed to be a practical example and best practice of what FOSS can do as part of a Holistic ICT for Sustainable Development (ICT4SD) strategy. ODiVs Provide educational training in both business and technical aspects and information technology services to government, health centers, and private enterprise, and include the following main components:

Local Portal to enable access throughout the network and the development of local support services to facilitate rapid ICT development;
Local wireless network to enable low cost connectivity in the region;
Community center for trainings, ICT services and community meetings.
The WODiV will use UEW as a focused leverage point for coordinating the efforts of graduating student teachers participating in program. Once the Winneba facility is fully established, this program will be replicated throughout Ghana as the teachers graduate and are deployed to outlying rural regions. In terms of scalability, WODiV is the first step in a more comprehensive Multipurpose Community & Unity Center (UCs) Development Model that will be put in place in Winneba. UCs such as the one planned in Winneba, will offer educational and research services, eventually expanding to incubate ICT & green technologies to promote sustainable economic development in each region where the centers are located.

Areas of Collaboration: On business and partnership network development, iFOSSF will serve as the Research & Development arm for OVF on technology development, while OVF will focus on marketing, business opportunity and end user requirements identification, including:

Research on issues & technologies related to ICT4SD;
Develop human capacity to use, customize, localize, develop and service FOSS applications;
Develop assets-based approach as a practical model of improving collective human intelligence to effectively address world urgent issues;
Improve quality of life in the communities of focus through the implementation of ICT best practices that most directly impact and improve people’s lives on a practical level;
The Methodology: A Complete Ecosystem Approach to Sustainable Development: Centers will operate as connection points/portals to connect both online and offline activities into one seamless global network for sustainability development. Key to this process is facilitating local/global exchanges of information and collection that are relevant to local needs. This methodology for WODiV will be a assets-based approach called the oneVillage Foundation Initiative and will eventually be replicated in other areas as relevant to OVF and iFOSSF’s mission and focus.

Field agents will collect, analyze and then post refined content on the web suitable for distribution in our networks both locally and globally. They will be backed up by a global network of innovators in the sustainability and IT fields as well as other appropriate sectors and fields. ODiVs will stimulate culturally and socially appropriate knowledge exchanges between participating communities and networks.

The following practices will enhance the capacity of communities and networks to cope and creatively address challenging issues, fulfilling both organizations’ missions to implement collective intelligence:

Promote ICT and sustainable development research in the field;
Collect network content to develop local knowledge portal
Collect local content relevant to global network
Desired Outcome of Partnership: Demonstrate on a practical level through the WODiV that many disciplines and fields play a vital role in stimulating the movement towards sustainability. These often disparate approaches will be converged to facilitate a larger collective effort of people collaborating and working together to harness their own talent and capacities while serving and reinforcing the collective good of humanity.

Download: OVF-iFOSSF Partnership Press Release 04/06/07

For More Information:

About iFOSSF contact Jenny Huang Hsueh:
About OVF and the WODiV contact Jeff Buderer Program Development Manager: