MDRU – restoring connectivity during disasters

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

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

Article prepared by Vannak Lach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

map-2-selangor-redelineation-proposal-2016-syor1

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

6d-selangor-malapportionment

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

map-4-selangor-voter-density-danesh20161107

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

map-5-mpsj-redistricting_1

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.