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Beyond the Net announces the results for the November 2016 cycle

The Beyond the Net Funding Programme is proud to announce the results of our November 2016 grant application cycle.

This cycle, we received 39 amazing applications from around the world. The project ideas were varied, original, and focused on helping local communities. It was hard, but the Selection Committee managed to pick six projects for funding.

These projects were selected for their uniqueness, structure and the benefits they will provide to their communities. With these new additions, Beyond the Net will have funded 26 projects since its inception. 

These projects are at the core of our mission and we would like to congratulate and welcome the new grantees!

We would also like to thank all the applicants for their efforts, and we encourage them to keep on submitting innovative projects.

Get to know the projects:

Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband
San Francisco Bay Chapter

California’s Central Valley is a major provider of food to both the United States and the world, but its own development is hindered by inadequate broadband service. The broadband speeds touted by local providers never seem to materialize for users.

Precision agriculture is the suite of technologies that lets farmers to gather data about their fields, allowing them to provide optimal irrigation and pest control for their crops. This makes it possible for them to maximize production while minimizing environmental impact. The latest generation of precision agriculture technology is highly reliant on cloud computing. Field data can now be transmitted to companies for real-time analysis, making precision agriculture even more precise. 

The goal for this project is to establish the level of mobile broadband performance in agricultural regions of Yolo County, and compare that performance to both provider-claimed performance and the level of performance required by current precision agriculture technology. These data sets will be able inform public policy making on rural broadband. The objectives are as follows: 

(1) Measure the performance of mobile broadband in 200 farm field locations across Yolo County, using the CalSPEED mobile applications.
(2) Compare the download and upload speeds to those reported by the mobile broadband providers on their Form 477 mobile broadband deployment data.
(3) Compare that performance to the  performance requirements of precision agriculture technologies being piloted by Valley Vision in Yolo County. 

Digital Fabrication Laboratory and Radio Telecommunication Network in rural areas of Nicaragua
Nicaragua Chapter

The Autonomous Region of the Caribbean North Coast of Nicaragua (RACCN) has more people living extreme poverty than any other region in the country. Sixty-nine percent of the region’s population lives below the poverty line. It is also a region which is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, dealing with the effects of drug trafficking, and prone to riots and political unrest. It is also experiencing an invasion of settlers from the north and central regions of Nicaragua as they move across the country in search of new agricultural territory. It is a largely rural area with only minimal access to basic services, poor road conditions, and with very little public investment in technology and education.

The aim of the project is to provide to teach RACCN residents to use information and communication technologies, so they can access information and educational opportunities, which will in turn help them make decisions to spur local growth. One of the specific goals is to provide farmers from communities across the region with access to information on market prices, product demand and sales opportunities in both other municipalities and foreign countries.  

COWShED: COmmunication within White Spots for brEeDers
Senegal Chapter

The livestock transhumance — the movement of cattle from one grazing ground to another — happens throughout Senegal. It is particularly common in the sylvo-pastorale areas of the Ferlo region. In that part of the country, it is difficult — and sometimes impossible — to use traditional, terrestrial telecommunications systems. This is because there are too many white spots, or areas with zero cellular coverage.

Satellite phones can be used in white spots, but are often prohibitively expensive.

Our proposal is to set up a low-cost communication network for rural people, particularly breeders and farmers, based on long range radio communication within ISM (Industrial, Science and Medical) bands. We will be able to keep costs low because the ISM band is free. The proposed autonomous mobile MESH network is developed by breeders, allowing them to safely lead livestock between grazing pastures and water points. Our main goal is to encourage activities that can generate financial returns for rural population, while also preserving the environment. 

NYC Mesh: Internet for Everyone
Mesh Team with the Support of the New York Chapter 

More than one in four New Yorkers lack access to broadband Internet at home, according to the city comptroller. Race and class dynamics highlight this divide. Black and Hispanic households are 23 percent more likely to be without broadband access, and people without a high school diploma are 360 percent less likely to have broadband than New Yorkers with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the comptroller’s own words the “two major causes of Internet inequality in New York City are the high cost and poor quality of broadband compared to other cities.” (Internet Inequality Stringer, City of New York 2014). 

Our goal with this project is to get Internet access and open-source software into the hands of people who have been purposefully excluded by the large telecommunications companies. We intend to install 50 nodes around three neighborhoods. This will allow us to extend cheap or free access to 50 buildings. We will also be making sure to connect at least two households per building. This will not only provide free, street-level access for an area of up to several blocks, depending on building height, topography, and density, but it will also lower the marginal cost of access for everyone in the neighbourhood.

CSIRT for Educational and Academic institutions in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan Chapter

Communication networks and information systems have become an essential part of Kazakstan’s economic and social development. That means security of those systems, and their availability, is of increasing concern to Kazakhs. Kazakhstan’s universities and academic institutions are experiencing a serious shortage of trained information security professionals. That means they often don’t have anyone on staff who capable of protecting their digital infrastructure from external and internal threats.

The goal of this project is to set up a Computer Security Incidents Response Team (CSIRT) for the academic community in Kazakhstan. A CSIRT is a team of IT security experts tasked with responding to computer security incidents. The team will help their clients to fix and recover from security breaches. 

CNL-ISOCpy
Paraguay Chapter

The development of experiences based on the incorporation of ICT in school work has acquired a variety of formats and has obtained different results; This project will provide low-income schools with fixed broadband access and a classroom equipped with state-of-the-art computers in proportion to the student population, as well as educational management software for principals, teachers, parents and students.

The incorporation of new information and communication technology in schools opens up a world of possibilities for students and teachers. Our project will provide schools in low-income areas with broadband access and a classroom equipped with state-of-the-art computers, enough that every student will be able to use them regularly. It will also give schools educational management software that will connect administrators, teachers, parents and students, allowing them to monitor each student’s progress and give them the help the need to succeed. 

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