Seed Alliance at IGF Mexico

The Seed Alliance members, FIRE Africa (AFRINIC), FRIDA Program (LACNIC), ISIF Asia (APNIC) will be present at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum, which will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 6-9 December.

During the IGF, the Seed Alliance will organize two workshops, one on cybersecurity and one on innovation and entrepreneurship, hold the Seed Alliance Awards Ceremony, and offer an opportunity to interact with grantees and Award Winners at the Seed Alliance booth in Guadalajara’s Palace of Culture and Communication, home of the Internet Governance Forum.

On Tuesday 6 December, the Seed Alliance will hold its first workshop of the week, which will focus on cybersecurity initiatives developed in and by the Global South. The session will be moderated by Carlos Martínez, LACNIC CTO, and will include noted speakers, all of them cybersecurity experts, including ISOC’s Olaf Kolkmann. This workshop will explore how developing economies are working to address cybersecurity issues, highlighting successful initiatives in their corresponding regions.(https://www.intgovforum.org/cms/igf2016/index.php/proposal/view_public/26).

In this sense, it is worth noting that this year the Seed Alliance included a specific category, funded by the Internet Society, which provided financial support to initiatives seeking to improve Internet security in the region: Protecting the TOR Network against Malicious Traffic in Brazil, BGP Security by RENATA (Colombia’s National Advanced Technology Academic Network) and Developing Tonga National CERT.

  • Prepared by Campinas State University (Brazil), the project for Protecting the TOR Network against Malicious Traffic seeks to implement a solution to the growing malicious code traffic operating over this network.
  • BGP Security by RENATA (Colombia’s National Advanced Technology Academic Network) involves implementing origin validation for BGP routes in RENATA’s network backbone.
  • In the case of the Tonga CERT, the project lead by Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, Information, Communication, Disaster Management (MEIDECC will work on creating the first national CERT in the Pacific region.

Award Winners 2016

On Tuesday 6 November, the Seed Alliance members will also present the 2016 Awards recognizing eight innovative initiatives and practices that have contributed to the region’s social and economic development. These are:

  1. AgriNeTT by the University of West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago)
  2. Mexicoleaks (Mexico);
  3. Restoring Connectivity: Movable and Deployable Resource ICT Unit (MDRU) by CVISNET Foundation (The Philippines);
  4. Towards A Fairer Electoral System: 1 Person, 1 Vote, 1 Value by Tindak (Malaysia);
  5. All Girls Tech Camp by Give1ProjectGambia (The Gambia);
  6. DocmeUP (Ghana);
  7. Kids Comp Camp (Kenia) and
  8. Tobetsa and WiFi TV Extension Project (South Africa).

To conclude, on Friday 9 December, FIRE, FRIDA, ISIF Asia will hold a second workshop on entrepreneurship and innovation in the Global South. This workshop will analyze the challenges innovators and entrepreneurs must face in developing countries and attempt to identify opportunities for Internet innovation in the countries of the Global South.
https://www.intgovforum.org/cms/igf2016/index.php/proposal/view_public/212

Finally, a Seed Alliance booth will be set up at the IGF Village, where FIRE, FRIDA and ISIF Asia Award winners and cybersecurity grant recipients will be available to share with Forum participants.

Event Participation: APrIGF 2015

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The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) 2015 was held from 30 June to 3 July at Macau University of Science & Technology, Macao, hosted by HNET.Asia and Macau High Technology Industry Chamber. Gathering 150 regional delegates including 30 youth participants, the APrIGF 2015 continued the objective of advancing Internet governance development and engaging the next generation of Internet leaders, see http://2015.rigf.asia/. The recordings of each session are available to be downloaded at http://2015.rigf.asia/archives/. One aspect to highlight about the overall program was that there were more workshops that discussed Human Rights and Gender compared to last year.

Four ISIF Asia funding recipients participated at the conference thanks to the support from partners and sponsors. Bishakha Datta from Point of View (India), Nica Dumlao from Foundation for Media Alternatives (Philippines), Jonathan Brewer from Telco2/Network Startup Resource Center (New Zealand), and Ulrich Speidel from University of Auckland (New Zealand) shared their views and experiences as part of the program of the event.

Bishakha Datta (Point of View, India) represented the Civil Society groups at the Opening Plenary. PoV contributes to amplify the voices of women and remove barriers to free speech and expression.

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Nica and her colleagues from the Filipinas delegation actively involved in IG discussions

Nica Dumlao (Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines) is FMA’s Internet Rights Coordinator, working on the intersection of technology and human rights in the Philippines. Nica has been very active on Internet Governance both globally and regionally, contributing her experience at two global IGFs and two APrIGFs. FMA organized two sessions: 1) “Gender and Internet Exchange (gigX)” a gender pre-event workshop in collaboration with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and 2) “Human Rights & Governance in ASEAN Cyberspace”. She was also part of the panelists of three sessions of the main program: “Threats in Expression in Asia”, “Bridging Gender Digital Divide”, and “Localizing Internet Governance”. In these sessions, they shared the experience in working on issues around digital rights, privacy, and women’s rights in the Philippines. In addition, they realized how the other panelists and participants look at issues of Internet rights and governance in the region. “The APrIGF provided a space for us Filipinos to have meaningful exchange with other stakeholders in the region and to plan for further collaboration”, Nica reported.

Jonathan Brewer (Telco2/NSRC, New Zealand) attended several sessions and also had a presentation in the session entitled “Broadband Infrastructure and Services for the Next Billion Users”. In his words, Jon left the sessions “enriched with new information, viewpoints, and concerns”. Some of the highlights for the sessions he attended were as follows:

  • In the session “Universal Acceptance: Been there, done that”, discussing Internationalized Domain Names, it was highlighted that one of the main challenges for developing applications is the support for multiple languages.”
  • “Net Neutrality in the Asia-Pacific” discussed a range of separate but inter-related topics including Network Neutrality, Peering, Sending Party Pays, and Zero Rating.
  • “Smart Cities in Asia and the Deployment of Big Data: Privacy and Security Challenges” provided an overview of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and how their increased use in cities could have significant impacts on privacy and security for residents of these cities.
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Prof. Ang Peng Hwa from NTU in Singapore, presenting during one of the APrIGF sessions in Macau

Ulrich Speidel (University of Auckland, New Zealand) shared about his experiences during the implementation improve Internet user experience in Pacific Island countries with network coded TCP. Ulrich is a firm believer that network coding may help improved goodput in places where TCP faces difficulties coping with high latencies across bottlenecks in the presence of a large number of TCP senders and the APrIGF was a great place to share about this exciting developments, funded by ISIF Asia, along with other partners. He was also one of the speakers of “Broadband Infrastructure and Services for the Next Billion Users”. He attended several sessions and highlighted the following: “Broadband and Infrastructure Services for the Next Billion Users”, “Information Security and Privacy in the IoT Era”, and “Smart Cities in Asia and Development of Big Data”.

Surprisingly, although both are based in New Zealand and both work on Internet infrastructure issues, Jon and Ulrich did not have collaborated in the past, and thanks to the opportunity to attend the APrIGF 2015, they visited Auckland together and commissioned a new RIPE Atlas probe as part of deployment of network coding equipment on Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

The APrIGF has taken the challenge to produce for the first time an “Outcomes Document”, which aims to identify the key issues and priorities within the Asia Pacific region that were discussed at the conference. The final document will serve as an input to feed into the wider global IGF discussions and also other relevant forums on Internet governance discussions. The document was open for comments at http://comment.rigf.asia to reflect the community views and encourage participation and engagement in Internet Governance issues. The Finalized Outcomes Document is expected to be further developed and finalized by August 14, 2015.

Event Participation: RightsCon 2015 Southeast Asia Conference

During 24 – 25 March 2015, five ISIF Asia grant recipients attended RightsCon Southeast Asia Conference in Manila, Philippines, see https://www.rightscon.org/manila/. The event was convened by Access and EngageMedia, in partnership with Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), World Wide Web Foundation and the Research Action Design collective, and supported by global and regional sponsors, including APNIC.

RightsCon Summit 2015 gathered more than 650 people from over 40 countries engaging civil society, technology companies, governments, and academia. The program organised around 125 workshops to discuss topics in relation to online rights protection, digital rights, economic development, technological solutions for human rights challenges, and risks in the ICT sector.

With the support of ISIF Asia, five project representatives including Bishakha Datta from Point of View (India), Jahangir Alam from Machizo Multimedia (Bangladesh), Arvind Khadri from Servelots (India), Khairil Yusof from Sinar (Malaysia) and Nazdeek (India) participated in the workshops that were relevant to their work. They took advantage of this worldwide conference to get inspired and build cooperation.

Closing plenary at RightsCon 2015

Closing plenary at RightsCon 2015

Sylvia Cadena, APNIC’s Community Partnerships Specialist, who coordinates the ISIF Asia program was particularly interested in this event, as it was the first time it was held in the Asia Pacific region. “It is really exciting to see so many human rights activists to sit at the table with Internet technology experts, business leaders and funders to discuss not only ideals and position papers about how technology can or cannot do, but to draft strategies to collaborate, be aware of funding sources available, tools available, to overcome the challenges ahead. A very hands-on approach, very much needed to bring about positive and timely change.” She also congratulated FMA, former ISIF Asia grant recipient, for their active role as local partner, to put the conference and the pre-events together and generate the appropriate space to share, discuss and learn.

When reviewing their experience to participate at RightsCon 2015, ISIF Asia project representatives presented that it was a unique opportunity to explore rights issues both online and offline and look at different perspectives around the world. They benefitted from the exchange of new ideas and expanded their network of contacts not only among activists and practitioners, but also with funders as well as Internet industry representatives concerned about how human rights manifest online, which open doors to facilitate their operations, serving local communities.

ISIF Asia supported projects meet during RightsCon

ISIF Asia supported projects meet during RightsCon

Sinar is using open source technology, development and ideas to make Malaysian government transparent and accountable. Khairil Yusof learned that “the data we’re gathering to make government more accountable might actually cause harm to groups and communities we are supposed to be helping” after Open Data and Privacy session. The reflective article by Khairil was published on Sinar website http://sinarproject.org/en/updates/institutional-support-eco-system-for-digital-rights.

Point of View contributes to amplify the voices of women and remove barriers to free speech and expression. Bishakha Datta (India) attended sessions about CyberSex and online fundamentalism. During the session, she was able to discuss how physical rapes are turning into digital porn in India and Pakistan with the speakers from Indonesia, see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31313551. Bishakha described RightsCon as “Getting a taste of digital rights in other Asian countries, hearing voices from Asia”.

Servelots works on empowering population that cannot read standard web content due to illiteracy, partial literacy or language issues with web accessibility. Arvind Khadri (India) participated in eight sessions including technology vs. policy rising debate, networking for trainer storytellers, and Brave GNU World. For him, RightsCon was an opportunity to network and collaborate. He was able to built connection with the Internet Society, and explore the opportunity to apply for a fellowship to speak about Servelots work at the Internet Governance Forum later this year. “RightsCon makes us understand challenges of various people and organisations by meeting friends and discussing future plans with them”, Arvind reported.

Jahangir Alam represented Machizo Multimedia (Bangladesh) which does photojournalism, reporting and digital campaign on popular culture, human rights and development issues. Jahangir Alam attended seven sessions focusing on human rights promotion, activism, media productions and digital campaign issues. The inspiration he took from RightsCon was that “we need to promote the local content on human rights education online via school networking. We will soon open a section ‘Amader Odikar’ (Our Rights) in UnnayanNews new portal”.

Participants also attended pre-events organized the day before RightsCon started. At the Responsible Data Forum Nazdeek reported that “In our context, it is imperative to understand how technology shapes the struggle to advance fundamental rights, as well as what safeguards must be put in place to ensure technology does not further perpetrate discrimination against marginalized groups and individuals.”

For the ISIF Asia fellows, RightsCon 2015 unraveled a bundle of issues such as online freedom of expression, surveillance, privacy and digital security for human rights defenders.

For overview and conclusion of RightsCon 2015, please check out the Outcome Report at https://www.rightscon.org/files/RC_SEA_outcome_report.pdf.

Event Participation: ICTD 2015

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Four ISIF Asia grant recipients and two mentors on project evaluation and communication attended the Seventh International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2015) conference http://ictd2015.org/, in Singapore from 15 to 18 May 2015. ICTD 2015 Post conference report is available at http://ictd2015.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ICTD2015-Full-Report.pdf. Participation was possible thanks to the Seed Alliance, a collaboration established between the FIRE, FRIDA, and ISIF Asia grants and awards programs, that provided support for 23 representatives from Latin America, Africa and Asia.

ICTD Conference provides an international forum for researchers and practitioners exploring the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in social, political, and economic development. The conference reflects and deepens the multidisciplinary nature of ICTD research in a broad range of areas including computer science, anthropology, communication, design, economics, electrical engineering, geography, information science, political science, health, sociology, and many others. Held for the first time in the Asia Pacific region, ICTD 2015 aimed to showcase the impact ICT has had on society with a multidisciplinary research-focused conference that reflects the Millennium Development goals.

The Seed Alliance organized a session during the conference, called “Seed Alliance: helping ideas grow”. Facilitated by Sylvia Cadena (ISIF Asia/APNIC), Gaelle Fall (FIRE/AFRINIC) and Lara Robledo (FRIDA/LACNIC), this session introduced the Seed Alliance as a platform to support Internet development in the global south through a variety of funding mechanism, capacity building strategies, and networking opportunities. Grant recipients from FIRE, FRIDA and ISIF Asia shared about their projects and the challenges they faced to bring about positive change to their communities through ICTs.

ISIF Asia Grant recipients Jacqueline Chan (Operation ASHA, Cambodia), Vin Samnang Charlie (Operation ASHA, Cambodia), Pheng Votey (Operation ASHA, Cambodia), Tariq Zaman (ISITI, Malaysia), Gurpreet Singh (Punjabi University, India) and Teddy Mantoro (Suria University, Indonesia), mentors Vira Ramelan, Sonal Zaveri attended and participated in workshops relevant to their work, as well as presenting their demos (list of demos http://ictd2015.org/demos/) at the conference, and joined the vibrant start-up community in Singapore at an Open House event at the JFDI.Asia incubator space.

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Operation ASHA team in Demo Session

Jacqueline Chan, Vin Samnang Charlie, and Pheng Votey from Operation ASHA (Cambodia, 2014 ISIF Asia Grant recipient) work providing disadvantaged communities with Tuberculosis (TB) care via eDetection App serves in Cambodia. The team was selected to present a demo session at the ICTD 2015 Conference. Their expectation of the presentation was to encourage the use of mobile technology for other communicable diseases and to generate more awareness about TB in Cambodia. The team also attended sessions from the program such as Public Access ICT, Disability Accessibility and Infrastructure, ICT and Development in Myanmar, and Persistence of Paper in Low-resource Setting. “It is not often that you meet a donor who is fully invested in your work and keen to build up your capacity, ISIF is one of these donors”, Jacqueline said. Jacqueline valued a networking dinner for Seed Alliance recipients. In the relaxed and confortable atmosphere, participants from different projects and evaluation mentors shared their experiences and got inspiration from each other. Operation ASHA’s team also highlighted a pre-conference session for Seed Alliance recipients about fundraising strategies and the need to engage different stakeholders, facilitated by Mr Michael Lints (Venture Partner at Golden Gate Ventures).

Tariq Zaman from the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations, (Malaysia, 2014 ISIF Asia Grant recipient), is working on developing and designing appropriate ICT tools for preservation and digitalization of sign language of Penan. Tariq presented the paper “Reviving an indigenous rainforest sign language: Digital Oroo’ Adventure Game” (PDF of article http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2737885) during the Notes session of the conference. He attended the IPID Symposium where he facilitated an open session. The most interesting additional activity for Tariq was to pitch the Oroo’ project at Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI) http://www.jfdi.asia/. He also attended Papers and Notes presentations and ICTD Innovation Accelerator: connecting ICTD researchers and practitioners. Tariq participated at the ICTD 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. He commented how, compared to 2013, in ICTD 2015 the major question they discussed in peers groups was the effectiveness of “ICT tools” vs “user’s will” and innovative “use” of these tools. In addition to experience sharing, Tariq reported, “This conference gave me an opportunity to strengthen my networks. It was a professionally rewarding experience”.

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Gurpreet Singh from Punjabi University in Demo Session

Gurpreet Singh represented Punjabi University (India, 2014 Grant recipient), who contributes to facilitate electronic and written communication between Sindhi people living in India and Pakistan through the development of a bi-directional web based Sindhi Language Transliteration Tool. Gurpreet attended open sessions “Understand the impact of mobile money in development”, “Delivering health service through ICT in rural communities”, and “ICT and Development in Myanmar”. More importantly, he arranged an online demo of Sindhi transliteration system, where participants tried the tool. He also presented and discussed their project at JFDI with prospective sponsors. One of the he most valuable moments for Gurpreet was that he met Gouri Mirpuri, wife of Ashok Mirpuri, Singapore’s ambassador in USA. She highly appreciated Sindhi transaction project and exhorted Gurpreet’s teem to extend the work for Kashmiri language, as Kashmiri is also written in both Perso-Arabic and Devnagri scripts.

Teddy Mantoro from Suria University in Demo Session

Teddy Mantoro from Suria University (Indonesia), who invented “Surelator”, a statistical machine translation between English and Bahasa Indonesia. He was selected both for the demo session and poster session during the conference. After the demo session, at least three possible investors have shown their interest with Surelator product innovations. The poster session happened in two days, where Surelator booth was visited by lots of audience. They discussed and showcased about the background of Surelator, delivery of real-time demo and off-line demo, packaging of the product, movies of how to use Surelator, and the possible impact to Indonesian community. Surelator was planned to be a commercial product but during this conference. However, after the discussions with various stakeholders, Teddy’s team adjusted the plan to develop a limited version of Surelator to be available for free for Indonesian community. Teddy commented, “ICTD conference is a place to understand these interactions, and to examine, critique, and refine the persistent, pervasive hope that ICTs can be enlisted by individuals and communities in the service of human development. Teddy won the ISIF Asia award in 2013 for his work on the HajjLocator.

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Utilisation-Focused Evaluation mentor Sonal Zaveri (Right) in the Demo Session

Vira Ramelan and Sonal Zaveri were the mentors of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (UFE) & Research Communication (ResCom) for the ISIF Asia program from 2013-2015. During that period, they supported three of ISIF Asia funded projects to develop their capacity in both evaluation and communication. From the perspective of project evaluation researchers, they found the most interesting part was that the conference was multi-disciplinary and embraced a variety of development issues. They organized a poster session with DECI-2 posters on UFE, which was very well received. They had discussions with participants from various development projects from about how to evaluate using the UFE &
ResCom specific approach.

As Vira suggested in her review of ICTD 2015 journey “this event involves effective capacity building activities, I wish that ISIF Asia could stay committed to provide support for grantees to attend this kind of conference”.

The day before the ICTD2015 conference started, the Seed Alliance organized a session where Mr Michael Lints (Venture Partner at Golden Gate Ventures) presented fundraising strategies and the need to engage different stakeholders to scale-up and grow. The ISIF Asia mentors got a chance to share with the FIRE and FRIDA coordinators and funding recipients, about their experience providing UFE & ResCom mentoring to three projects in Asia Pacific.

Overall, the event provided unique networking opportunities for Seed Alliance recipients, as well as a place to share their innovations with the academic sector researching about technologies for development. ICTD 2016 will be hosted at the University of Michigan, USA, from June 3rd to 6th, 2016 http://ictd2016.info/cfp/.