Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Codan experience in Guinea-Bissau Elections: "The National Elections Commission of Guinea-Bissau used new Information and Communication Technology tools to coordinate the legislative elections held March 28 and enable poll workers to verify names and identity card numbers on the voter rolls. .. The project was designed by Sila Technologies (SITEC), a private company, and funded by a grant from the European Economic Community.
About a week before the elections, SITEC had up and running high frequency (HF) radio units in all nine regional capitals of Guinea-Bissau and verified that they could communicate with each other via voice, fax, or data transmission over up to 200 kilometers. Fax transmission was reported to be flawless, and voice communication was functional. According to SITEC engineer Amidu Sila, some level of noise is to be expected in using this technology and frequency range for voice, though this never impeded communication. ..
The company chose radios made by Codan Ltd., model NGT SR, for the project, along with a system that automatically selects and switches between available frequencies to get the best transmission. The HF units reportedly cost around $7,000 each, and the additional link management system goes for about $1,200. Before beginning installation, SITEC had to be assigned twenty available HF-band frequencies, which they chose together with the regulatory agency. Half of the frequencies were for use during the day, and the other half for the different atmospheric conditions of nighttime. Sila thinks that the radio could work over distances as far as 1500 kilometers." 12:34:57 PM
: "Relief workers are often encumbered by poor Internet connectivity, fragile or expensive equipment, or security concerns associated with collecting detailed geographic data in areas recovering from conflict. As connectivity expands and the tools get cheaper and more diverse, the specific needs of relief workers in the field are increasingly being met. Companies such as Global Relief Technologies
and Groove Networks appear to point the way." 12:24:53 PM
Monday, May 17, 2004
NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)
: 10 years old, the program continues to provide capacity and sometimes, people, to demonstrate new satellite applications. Education in developing countries is one ongoing area. "The Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS), a significant activity of the Space Communications Program
, provided for the development and flight test of high-risk, advanced communications satellite technology. Using multiple spot beam antennas and advanced on-board switching and processing systems, ACTS pioneered new initiatives in communications satellite technology." 4:27:01 PM
Sunday, May 16, 2004
: Nifty interactive international street mapper. 10:55:01 AM
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Lloyd's satellite constellations
: "These pages form an index to useful web information discussing [Low Earth Orbit or LEO] satellite constellations. You won't gain a complete picture of what any proposed constellation is capable of, or really in-depth technical details, but you will gain an idea of what the developments in this area are, where the industry and technology is headed - and you will pick up background knowledge of satellites along the way. " 3:27:37 PM
Monday, May 03, 2004
Smart Mobs: Phones, Radio, Elections in Ghana
: "Ethan Zuckerman of Geekcorps notes at etcon panel that the last Ghana election "went considerably more smoothly than the last US national election" due to the use of cellphones and radio to report voting fraud: Whenever someone at a polling place reported fraud, the called the radio station, which broadcast it; the police had to check it out, not having the excuse that they didn't receive a report." 2:11:10 PM
"Inverse Surveillance" -- What We Should Do With All Those Phonecams: Steve Mann's ideas of citizen "sousveillance" predated the cameraphone phenomena by nearly a decade. [He has] reknown as the longtime online cyborg. He started wearing computers and sent his "eyetap" camera images to the Web way back in 1994. His first reference to his activities as a new kind of newsgathering date back to the day in 1995 when he followed a fire truck to a fire and sent the pictures from his head-mounted camera to the Web ..
In 2000, Mann and his students streamed images directly to the Web when violence broke out at a demonstration by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. If you think about it, this kind of journalism is a breakthrough in at least one dimension: whenever police abused their power in past political demonstrations, they made a point of breaking or confiscating cameras. Whether you are a violent demonstrator or an abusive police officer, it doesn't do a lot of good to disguise your misbehavior by trashing a camera if it has already sent images to the Whole Wide World. ..
"Surveillance" is French for "watching from above," but Mann's ["sousveillance"] is French for "watching from below." If you think about it, there really is little that citizens can do at this point to prevent others from watching, listening, and tracking us – but we are beginning to get the tools to watch the watchers. Mann notes that surveillance is about authorities watching from on high, but sousveillance is a down-to-earth human's eye view; surveillance cameras are usually automatic devices statically mounted on the ceiling, but sousveillance is human-situated and eye-level; activities are surveilled by authorities but sousveilled by participants; surveillance is secret but sousveillance is public."
Here's a practical application: People For the American Way Election Protection: "Volunteer poll monitors make EP an effective advocate for voters and a powerful deterrent to those who would try to deny voters their rights. Trained by attorneys and armed with cell phones that connect them with a lawyers hotline, EP volunteers distribute the 'Voters Bill of Rights at the polls and identify and solve problems as they happen -- not after Election Day has passed." They say they will use cameras in cell phones when possible. 1:12:15 PM
Nigerian Mobs Alerted By Texting
: From Nov 2002 Howard Rheingold notes "the reported use of texting to summon rioters in Nigeria
Ironically, the blasphemous story published against the prophet has tended to unite the nation's muslims who have not only been unanimous in their condemnation of the story, but have also been sending solidarity text messages on their GSM phones to alert one another on the blasphemy since last Sunday.
AbdulHameed Daramola, a Lagos Muslim told Weekly Trust that he alone alerted over seventy Muslims across the country about the blasphemy through text messages on his GSM since last Sunday when he became aware of the issue"
Electoral Smart Mobs in Kenya
: "For the first time, we Kenyans have more or less agreed that this time we have had a fair election with the highest number of voters turning out to vote. One key instrument has been the mobile phone." Uses: Planning, Campaigning, and Results Dissemination.
"We in the ICT field know this is a best practice on how ICTs can help curb rigging, enhance transparency and keep people together. The two cell phone poviders were licensed less than five years ago and cover most of Kenya and have outstripped fixed lines government provider by more than 300% in that short period. Incidentally, no fixed lines were working in all the polling stations I visited further proving the maxim..Africa telecommunications development will be more wireless than fixed. " 12:45:22 PM