Inveneo Sectors Archives

Inveneo Launches New Rural Connectivity Project in Liberia with USAID

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on July 24, 2018 in the categories: Economic Development, Healthcare, News, Projects, Relief, Software

Inveneo, a Silicon Valley nonprofit that works to increase Internet connectivity in the developing world, is pleased to announce its newest project in partnership with USAID. Inveneo has been contracted by USAID to expand affordable, sustainable, and reliable rural Internet connections throughout Liberia, which was tragically hit with an Ebola outbreak starting in 2014. Known as Recover.IT, the new project will connect or improve 37 different sites in Liberia, many of which are in remote, rural areas. In addition, Inveneo is pleased to partner with Orange Liberia, a subsidiary of the Orange Group.

Not only will these Internet connections help facilitate the work of healthcare workers, clinics, and development organizations already working at the local level, but they will also improve the information and communication technology (ICT) capacity of Liberians and local entrepreneurs. It is estimated that connecting 37 sites with affordable, sustainable, and reliable high-speed Internet access will directly assist almost 3,000 public officials and humanitarian workers.

FJ Cava, Recover.IT’s Project Manager, explains further, saying “it’s been proven that each incremental 10% penetration of Internet into a country increases the GDP of that country by 1%. The hope is that this capacity building allows agencies like the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education to be able to better respond to possible national crises in the future.”

Recover.IT is a spinoff of the original ERCI (Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative) project that Inveneo implemented in 2015. During the Ebola epidemic emergency Inveneo partnered with Facebook, NetHope, Cisco, and others to deliver 100 Internet connections in Sierra Leone and Liberia in under five months.

The Inveneo team has gained many valuable insights from over 10 years of experience that it will apply to this new project. For example, Internet providers do not always have an accurate view of the market demand for high speed Internet, and that has prevented them from risking the capital that is necessary to be able to support the expansion of high-speed Internet. Recover.IT will be working on the ground with local contacts to overcome this challenge, as well as others, in the months ahead.

Inveneo’s Mission and Worldwide Impact

Inveneo is a 501c3 nonprofit social enterprise. Its mission is to deliver the tools of information and communications technologies (ICTs)  — sustainable computing and better access to the Internet — to those who need it most, people and organizations in rural and highly underserved communities of the developing world. Inveneo has over 10 years experience transforming lives in 31 countries through better education, healthcare, economic opportunities and faster emergency relief, impacting over 3,250,000 people in more than 1,900 communities.

Haiti in Action: An Inveneo Report on Basic Computer Training

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on June 2, 2015 in the categories: Education, Publications

Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo’s Project Manager in Haiti, recently led a computer training session for the community members in La Vallee de Jacmel, Haiti.

After a 10-station computer lab installation in La Vallee de Jacmel, Inveneo was re-contacted for training recommendations. Once the needs assessment was initiated, Inveneo agreed to provide and empower the community members with basic computer training. La Vallee Alliance selected the candidates to participate in the training. They included teachers, school directors, and secondary school students.

Inveneo and Michelet Guerrier published a report on the computer training course and outcomes. Please take a look and discover the exciting results and impact that a computer training course can make for a community in Haiti!

ComputerTrainingReport

Improved Internet Connectivity in Haiti Thanks to Inveneo and Partners

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on May 15, 2015 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, News, Projects

From 2011 to 2013, Inveneo has been widely involved in the Haiti Rural Broadband Network (HRBN), a program created to bring broadband to Haiti in many rural areas. Inveneo worked extensively throughout the project, but when funding ran out, the system Inveneo put in place has experienced setbacks, and achieving sustainability has been a challenge.

These school kids could benefit from Inveneo's Haiti Connected Schools program.

These school kids could benefit from Inveneo’s Haiti Connected Schools program.

Inveneo’s San Francisco-based Project Manager Kelly Doley recently traveled to Haiti to join Inveneo’s Haiti-based Project Manager, Michelet Guerrier, to assess the HRBN project.

Haiti Benefited from the HRBN Project

Although the HRBN project has experienced challenges, about 50 schools that participated in Inveneo’s Haiti Connected Schools program initially received improved Internet connectivity through the HRBN. Inveneo is happy that it fulfilled its mission of expanding broadband in areas, and the HRBN infrastructure remains in place. However, the HRBN needs a sustainable business model and strong management from one of Haiti’s many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for networks to grow or continue, especially in the absence of continued donor funding. However, Inveneo has noticed that multiple ISPs have learned from the HRBN and used the same technologies as Inveneo in building out their own networks to reach remote areas.

8281245795_fd245290c8_o-2Struggles of BATI

Some of Inveneo’s approximately 50 BATI still work for ISPs to conduct outreach and repairs for the HRBN project. BATI are young Haitians with information technology (IT) skills who have been trained by Inveneo to deploy high speed, broadband wireless networks and new, relevant technology. All BATI benefitted from Inveneo’s training and working as part of the HRBN network. BATIs have a lot of respect for Inveneo and would like Inveneo to expand its presence in Haiti. Inveneo greatly respects the BATI, and recognizes they are a great local and skilled resource that could be tapped into Haiti.

Inveneo Moves Forward

Internet connectivity remains a challenge in Haiti, and the HRBN was a successful initiative to expand broadband in remote areas.  As with all development projects, achieving sustainability – in this case maintaining the HRBN after the project officially ended – has been a challenge. However, the HRBN infrastructure remains and could be leveraged to help connect the unconnected in Haiti.

Ongoing Inveneo Projects in Haiti

The Inveneo team is currently working on the successful Transforming Teaching Through Tablets project to improve the skills of and resources available to teachers in Haiti. To read more about that project click here.

What’s Sierra Leone Like Almost One Year After the Ebola Virus Hit?

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on April 20, 2015 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Relief

Inveneo team member Eric Zan serves as a Senior Field Engineer in the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI). He recently explained his thoughts on the ERCI Project and the difference it has been making in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone. Read his story below on what country is like now almost one year after the virus hit.

  1. What is Sierra Leone like one year after the Ebola virus hit?
Inveneo visited a case management and burial management team in Sierra Leone. Photo Credit: Eric Kuhnke/Inveneo

Inveneo visited a case management and burial management team in Sierra Leone. Photo Credit: Eric Kuhnke/Inveneo

“Although I haven’t been in Sierra Leone throughout the entire crisis, I can see that Sierra Leone used to be a place where ‘doors were closing’ in almost all areas for the residents. What I mean is that there were serious limits on migration, how much people moved, and where people congregated. In addition, several businesses left Sierra Leone which drastically affected opportunities for individuals. The overall economic landscape was hurt from this, and often people had to change their jobs. And even if you did not contract the Ebola virus your life was still drastically altered.

Today, humanitarian organizations of Sierra Leone are transitioning to more of a “recovery” mode. Ebola is still active there, but it is concentrated in different provinces. Priorities are changing theses days since many regions are not experiencing new patients and are devoting their resources to the economic and social recovery. Not surprisingly communities have experienced different levels of fallout from all this. However, through it all, communication is the biggest factor we are concerned with and it was good to see local communities having trust in the global community.”

  1. What were your daily activities in the ERCI project?
Eric Zan organizing materials for the ERCI project.

Eric Zan organizing materials for the ERCI project.

“It was constantly different because every day presented new challenges. In general I was the logistics coordinator and helped direct the Field Team on where they could go.

  • I made sure there was a way to gather details and share them with the team about where to go and when to take precautions.
  • I would liaise with our project partners in order to come up with a plan for integrating our equipment into their core network.
  • Also, I’d discuss how to build out each tower in a coordinated way, how to ensure bandwidth strength, and how to monitor the network.

Those items were the “big picture” parts to my day-to-day activities. But they add up when working in a crowded and limited-resource environment.”

  1. How is the ERCI project making a difference?

“First, the Internet will help main hubs coordinate with their field offices because a lot of decision making and resource allocation happens in the capital. Before getting an Internet connection, main offices sometimes had to wait days or weeks to get information about what was going on in the rural areas. By then it’s often too late to respond to the key needs in an efficient way. Second, the organizations can get data back almost instantly. This communication helps them coordinate with other organizations which overall helps paints the big picture for everybody.

Photo Credit: Eric Kuhnke/Inveneo

Photo Credit: Eric Kuhnke/Inveneo

As a last note, the Internet generally helps people and organizations be more efficient in their missions, whatever their mission is. This may include having more time for projects, less need for travel, and better cost-effective strategies.”

  1. What precautionary health measures did you and your team take while in Sierra Leone?

“The health measures were mainly based on behavioral changes; they were all behavioral-based policies that we established for the team to follow. The ABCs meant Avoid Body Contact at all times. We were taking our temperatures at least twice a day, and we worked alongside a health a safety member from NetHope from their Icelandic Search and Rescue Team. Also, communication was important and people checked in with me. We also had a group chat on Skype going, and I was constantly coordinating with others in case someone needed to go to the hospital or wasn’t feeling well.”

  1. In your opinion, what ICTs would be the most effective in stopping Ebola from spreading?

“Although many people have mobile phones in Sierra Leone, they may not always be the entire solution. For example, mobile phones are not reliable to transfer large amounts of data. Instead, what is needed is a reliable Internet link and a better system for gathering and aggregating data in an automated way.

Another important part is the building of local capacity. Training is very important and it must be coordinated with local support and knowledge. Information should be made available to communities and more members of an organization’s team, too, and not necessarily to just the Project Coordinator.

Over the last few months I’ve realized that those living in Sierra Leone are incredibly resilient people, and they have so much that they are already offering. Combining these skills with ICT has the potential to play a significant role in bringing an end to this tragic Ebola crisis.”

Top Takeaways from UNESCO and UN Women’s Mobile Learning Week

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on March 9, 2015 in the categories: Education, News

UNESCO and UN Women’s recent Mobile Learning Week conference in Paris was an ICT-focused event that brought together over 1,000 participants from more than 70 countries. As a participant representing Inveneo, Media Manager Jana Melpolder traveled to Paris to determine best practices on using technology to educate and empower girls and women around the world. She was pleased to run into several key ICTworks’ authors at the event, including Linda Raftree and Jim Teicher.

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Ms. Raftree made a presentation titled “10 Myths About Mobile Learning and Girls’ Empowerment”, and it made a big impact in the way she thought about how mobiles affect girls. Several of her key myths of mobile ownership included:

  • Cost being the largest barrier to owning a phone (which is not always true due to family pressures or societal norms that prohibit a girl from easily owning a phone)
  • Mobile phones can’t address the real needs of girls (when in reality mobile phones can address important issues such as domestic violence, information for rape victims, and more)
  • Vulnerable girls don’t have access to mobile phones (when in reality a girl may be borrowing a phone from friends, etc.)

Ms. Melpolder appreciate the insights that Linda Raftree and other speakers offered, and there were many terrific tech-related resources that were promoted for teachers throughout this event. However, the greater focus at the Mobile Learning Week conference should have been how parents could use technology to empower and educate young girls. Parents are a solid backbone to a girl’s education, and she believes that more technological resources need to become more easily available to them.

Technology that parents already own can be better utilized to push a girl’s education further and better prepare them for modern jobs. For example, since mobile phones are widely used in emerging regions, parents should more often utilize text messages about assignments that are due, or they should receive daily or weekly messages on what children are learning while at school. Additionally, teachers should use mobiles more often to communicate to parents what lessons a young girl is currently working on in school.

Engaged parents are vital to the education and empowerment of young girls everywhere, and resources should be made available to them just as often as they are made available to teachers. She hopes there is a better balance in the future – one where educational tech tools are brought equally to the hands of teachers and parents to make an even greater impact for young girls around the world.

Network Monitoring on ARM-Based Equipment in West Africa to Fight Ebola

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on January 26, 2015 in the categories: News, Relief

The Inveneo team has partnered with NetHope, EveryLayer, Cisco, and Facebook to extend broadband connectivity to medical centers fighting the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Our team is implementing the most relevant pieces of technology on the market, and often we rely on ARM-based products. For the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI), the Inveneo team plans to use the BeagleBone Black Rev C, a Linux computer the size of a credit card. It is a “heart beat” technology that Inveneo will heavily rely on throughout the ERCI project to monitor the broadband network health.

The ARM-based Beaglebone with its energy efficient, yet powerful processing power, offers the project real-time analysis through its AM335x 720MHz ARM® processor. The project will place Beaglebones in strategic points in the network for monitoring using SmokePing software.

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A BeagleBone Black

SmokePing works by sending many tests within a small period of time called pings and then calculates the median. Inveneo found that this open source program SmokePing is the single most useful measure of network performance, with a single graphic showing both latency and packet loss. The data then is displayed graphically in a Network Operation Center (NOC) being established in Ghana. By using this approach, the NOC staff can be proactive in addressing network outage, bandwidth issues, and overall network reliability.

In addition to SmokePing, our team will be using Zabbix, which will be installed for network monitoring. Zabbix is a free, open source program that monitors the radios and networking hardware over various protocols, including SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), which is a standard protocol for network monitoring. While SmokePing monitors the quality of the connection through packet loss, round trip time, and jitter, Zabbix collects a lot more information, has a very good user interface, and generates alerts via email when a device is performing poorly or is offline. Finally, it reports to the cloud so one can use a web-based front-end that can be assessed from any location (as long as there is an Internet connection).

Our team will use BeagleBones because they run the Ubuntu operating system and also provide access to other command line tools which are useful for monitoring the network that would be used/ran directly by a human. By adding Smokeping and Zabbix, our software will be constantly running in the background and will be accessible from the cloud for access by the NOC.

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An example of the SmokePing layout.

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An example of the Zabbix layout.

The Ulwazi Programme: Sharing Histories and Culture in Communities in South Africa

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on December 15, 2014 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, News

Digital information and ICTs have transformed how knowledge is dispersed in Africa. A digital library project called the Ulwazi Programme is helping to ensure that, through social technologies, everyone has equal access to aspects of their history and culture through technology.

libraries-as-community-memory-the-ulwazi-programme-11-638Inveneo recently spoke with Grant McNulty, a Partner at McNulty Consulting, a digital media consultancy led by two brothers. They use digital media to foster cultural projects with technology, and McNulty Consulting has helped to create the Ulwazi Programme online library.

Sharing Histories Online

Many communities in South Africa do not have equal access to computer labs or other ICTs. The Ulwazi Programme is working to reverse that trend and ensure that those living in urban, peri-urban and rural settings can access online materials like never before. Ulwazi creates content like shared histories and local knowledge in local languages such as Zulu. McNulty Consulting, together with the eThekwini Municipal Libraries in Durban, is making this possible by “using open-source software, in collaboration with the public library and local communities”.

The Ulwazi Programme is not only being managed by the brothers at McNulty Consulting but instead is very much a community effort. Volunteer fieldworkers are recording personal histories which are saved digitally to be used in the online library. Local schools and formal researchers are also getting involved, and the project is quickly becoming quite successful!

Tips for Other ICT4D Practitioners

libraries-as-community-memory-the-ulwazi-programme-13-638Those working in ICT projects around the world can learn from the Ulwazi model. Grant McNulty  explained that the online library’s software will be kept open source and free to the entire community, meaning members won’t need to pay fees to license or access the resources.

The Ulwazi Programme is not only available online within the local library’s computer network, but it is also accessible on tablets and mobile phones. Almost 90% of Internet usage  in South Africa is through a mobile device. McNulty Consulting concentrated on making the Ulwazi Programme mobile-friendly in order to engage communities and provide access to the resource on devices that they already use.

The Ulwazi Programme has seen incredible growth online through its website analytics, and the two brothers are very excited. To learn how you can get involved in this special ICT project in South Africa visit the website, Facebook page, or Twitter page. Best of luck to the continued growth for this well-deserving South African community!

Inveneo Launches Its Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on December 12, 2014 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Projects, Relief

As the Ebola crisis continues to hit hard in West Africa, Inveneo recently launched its Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) this past week to bring Internet connectivity to doctors, nurses, and others working at medical centers located in Sierra Leone. On Wednesday December 10th, several of our team’s engineers, contractors, and few Volo employees gathered together in San Francisco for pre-deployment training.

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The ERCI team who met in San Francisco for pre-deployment training.

The ERCI project is already underway and the Inveneo team has been busy ordering and moving ICT equipment to a warehouse in Accra, Ghana. Several pieces of equipment that we are using for this project include Ubiquiti’s Rocket M5 Radio, AirMax Sectors, RocketDish 30 cBi Dishes, AirFiber5, NanaoBridge M5 25, and the Mikrotik RouterBoard CCR 1009.

Several members of the Inveneo team join Volo in the Ebola Responder Communications Initiative class.

Several members of the Inveneo team join Volo in the Ebola Responder Communications Initiative class.

In addition, our Senior Field Engineer Samuel Perales and contractor Eric Kuhnke will be traveling to Accra, Ghana on Saturday, December 13th. In Ghana, Samuel and Eric will start sorting all the equipment that arrived, and soon they will be joined by several other team members throughout December. Our Sierra Leone partners, called ICIPs (Inveneo Certified ICT Partners), will also travel to Ghana in mid-January to be trained on creating broadband connections. We certainly have a great amount of work ahead of us, and we are certainly glad to be partnering with such a talented team!

After their training is complete our ICIPs and contractors will travel back to Sierra Leone to create Internet connectivity for medical centers that will be used by Ebola victims in the near future. Inveneo will provide long-term support after the technicians have set up Internet connectivity in medical centers so that strong and permanent WiFi connectivity is available to the doctors and medical staff working at those centers.ERCI Logo

Inveneo is no stranger to providing aid after an international disaster hit an area hard, leaving no to little WiFi connectivity. In fact, throughout the past several years Inveneo has responded to devastating crises around the world. In the Philippines we creating emergency Internet connectivity for humanitarian organizations after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck, and starting in 2010, our team assisted Haiti in rebuilding its Internet infrastructure after the devastating earthquake. If you would like to donate to this our impactful ERCI project, please visit our donate page.

Support Inveneo’s Response to Fighting Ebola

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on October 23, 2014 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Relief

Ebola has become an increasingly serious health crisis around the world, and humanitarian aid organizations in West Africa are in critical need of ICTs (Information and Communications Technologies) to effectively support health care workers. In response, Inveneo is assembling a team that is preparing to travel to Accra, Ghana. Once there they will distribute 500 Google Nexus 7 Tablets (which will be pre-loaded with crisis-response apps) to major aid agencies working on the ground in affected areas.

ManandTabletThe Inveneo team, led by Senior Field Engineer Samuel Perales and Executive Director Bruce Baikie, will provide a Tablets for Ebola Responders training, delivering relevant skill sets to aid workers stationed throughout West Africa. This project will support up to 50 aid organizations.

Inveneo is eager to launch this project because of its ability to impact thousands living in communities potentially affected by Ebola. “International relief organizations have been expressing the need for tablets on the ground. Having seen firsthand just how effective these tablets were in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan last year in the Philippines, we are particularly eager to get tablets into the hands of aid organizations working to eradicate Ebola,” explains Samuel Perales.

The Google Nexus 7 tablets will be pre-loaded with software and apps that enable post-crisis communication and coordination. With programs like street-level maps and access to medical information, tablets become powerful ICT tools in the fight against Ebola. Aid workers will be able to deliver medical supplies more quickly and will receive updates and news stories that rural communities desperately need.

Inveneo’s team has been at the forefront in responding to global crises with effective ICTs. In addition to supporting recovery efforts after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit The Philippines in 2013, our team also responded to Haiti’s 2010 earthquake with the rapid build-out of a wireless broadband network that enabled communication necessary for relief and rebuilding efforts. In 2005, we sent team members to Mississippi immediately after hurricane Katrina to assist with rebuilding communications.

Inveneo needs your help to fight Ebola and to raise $185,000 for our Tablets for Ebola Responders project.  Your donation will enable us to provide these needed tablets and training in Ghana to support aid organizations working throughout West Africa. For more information and to support our efforts visit http://inveneo.org/donate

 

Top 4 Ways ICTs Can Help Defeat the Ebola Crisis

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on September 25, 2014 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Relief

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is increasingly becoming an international crisis. Recently the World Health Organization counted 5,843 cases of Ebola patients and 2,811 deaths. Even more tragic, the number deaths occurring outside hospitals are not usually recorded, meaning the numbers could actually be significantly higher. The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) predicts there if we don’t do anything to stop Ebola in its tracks, the world will have 1.4 million cases before we hit February 2015.

How does this Ebola outbreak compare to others in the past?ebola_time

So what can the ICT community do? ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) have already made drastic positive differences to healthcare workers around the world, and defeating the Ebola crisis should be no different. Here are four ways aid workers should embrace ICTs to make a bigger impact:

  1. More drones should be used to airlift medicine and supplies. Since aid organizations are continuously crossing borders and healthcare workers don’t always have proper equipment to keep themselves safe, a flying drone can prove useful to send medical supplies to remote locations. It would act as a simple way to either stop or slow down the spread of the Ebola virus. Drones would in no way replace doctors, but they could provide a safer alternative than people travelling to  dangerous areas just to deliver materials.
  2. A 24-hour helpline of doctors should be readily available by Skype, Google Hangout, or video chat. Online video calls would be able to provide consistent and accurate medical information to those living in rural areas. They would also decrease the need for doctors to be on the ground all the time. Finally, residents living in rural areas would be able to report cases more quickly, therefore allowing the WHO and other organizations to collect more accurate numbers on the outbreak.
  3. Apps providing correct information on Ebola should be offered to local community leaders. Fear and cultural insensitivity sometimes deny international aid workers access to areas where often their help is most needed. The answer? Provide local community leaders the same information via apps so they can share it with their own neighbors and friends. This can be done easily on any mobile device, and the apps should be made in or translated into local languages and dialects. In addition, the articles, content, and news stories on the app should be updated nearly every day, making the latest news and information available to entire communities.
  4. Access to social media will help sensitize others to the seriousness of this outbreak. So many west Africans enjoy Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social networking sites. These social media tools should be put to work since users are already enjoying those platforms. As one writer puts it, “Using modern day technology to sensitize the public on the virus, its prevention and particularly the importance of early intervention could be key in preventing the continuation of deaths in high numbers.”

ICTs can make a profound impact on scaling back the devastating effect that Ebola has had on Sierra Leone and other parts of western Africa. It’s time to nail down the best strategies to save precious lives around the world.

Inveneo has been working to provide the best ICTs for communities in need for over 10 years. If you would like to help Inveneo continue its ICT projects around the world, please donate today!