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Title:Developing an Organizational Model and Technical Implementation Plan for Wireless Mesh Networks in Sao Tome and Principe, West Africa
Author(s):Ritzo, Christopher J.
Subject(s):wireless mesh networks
community informatics
digital divide
information society
Sao Tome and Principe
Abstract:Community wireless networking initiatives have been envisioned and implemented with varying success both in the US and abroad. There are a variety of organizational models that municipalities, community organizations, individuals, businesses, corporations and grassroots movements are using to build, plan and implement wireless community networks. In developing countries the organizational, economic and technical challenges are even greater. Terrain, power requirements, and other technical challenges are secondary to the organizational challenges, community impact and social implications that such a technology infusion can bring. These needs present a great opportunity for Universities to complete research, help communities bridge the digital divide, and become part of the information society. Prairienet, a Community Informatics focused organization within the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been partnering on action research projects with organizations and people in communities such as East St. Louis, IL and Paseo Boricua, Chicago for a many years. This has provided graduate students in Library and Information Science with opportunities to learn valuable technical and organizational skills, while assisting community groups achieving their community goals. Prairienet is now beginning to extend this model internationally through partnerships begun through former GSLIS graduate, Jorge Coelho of Sao Tome and Principe. Initial discussions on community goals with Sao Tomean community members and groups over the past two years have developed into several projects carried out by both GSLIS graduate students and those from the Architecture and Urban Planning schools. These early projects have benefited both Sao Tomean communities and the students engaged with the community members completing them. An early expressed goal of Jorge and other community members has been the desire to link locations with Internet access such as schools and libraries with community centers in nearby plantation towns in the mountains. Initial surveying of two possible sites and partial testing of open source mesh network hardware and software took place as a small part of Prairienet's summer 2007 trip. In response to the lessons learned from this testing, GSLIS student Chris Ritzo has begun work investigating the different organizational models being used in community wireless network initiatives, continued testing open-source mesh networking technologies in use or in development in the U.S. or internationally and comparing those models and technologies to organizational and personal contacts of the GSLIS/Prairienet Community Informatics initiative in Sao Tome, West Africa. This research will result in a paper detailing possible organizational and technical models for deployment of wireless mesh networks in Sao Tome and Principe. This might then be used by Sao Tomean community members and organizations in partnership with the University of Illinois/GSLIS groups to make that goal a reality, or as a starting point for further discussion and modification. This poster session will detail the work completed thus far, discussing possible organizational and technical models that could be used to implement wireless networking initiatives in Sao Tome and Principe.
Issue Date:2008-02-28
Genre:Conference Poster
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-03-08

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