Access to information
Read the series of stories about Betinho prize winning projects, narrated by FLASCO Chile. This group was one of the two winners of APC’s 2005 Betinho Communication Prize. According to the jury, their networking efforts are "improving the lives of individuals and communities in Latin America and producing real economic benefits”. What exactly is their networking about? What is its real impact, what real life stories are to be found in the background? APCNews discussed this with the team behind the scenes. A Betinho prize series in six parts…
As an academic centre, FLACSO Chile generates knowledge and reproduces it through its alumni and graduates in different fields of political science. The networking programme falls therefore within the scope of promoting access to and ownership of information.
The female telecentre users initially become involved discreetly, they are curious to know what is going on, what the telecentre consists of and the services it offers. This is the first time that many of the women from the communities have access to equipment.
The www.telecentroscomunitarios.cl portal is one of the internet-based participatory spaces for content production that the programme offers to the 17 telecentres. This is done through a collaborative publishing platform where organisations find the tools to upload news, activities, product offers, local services and also resources for the creation of their own webpages.
At the beginning, arriving and installing telecentres that use computer equipment that run on an open operating system like GNU/Linux was not a simple process. In Chile, the degree of penetration of the Windows operating system is considerabe, and merely encountering something different often generated great resistance from the organisations and communities. We have observed that ”free software” was associated with cost reduction, hence lower quality. As a result of this, there was a significant investment made in the first phase of the implementation of the project to raise awareness about and disseminate of the use of GNU/Linux and associated free software programmes and applications.
The Cabrati Telecentre is located in Batuco Lampa and administered by a group of women that manages a day-care centre. It has become a pioneer community access point in the country as it uses the advantages of wireless connectivity to access internet economically, while still turning a profit.
Between the 12th and 16th of July 2006, an APC-organised North African Regional Wireless Training Workshop will take place in Morocco. Wireless technologies offer developing countries an important low-cost, versatile alternative to wired infrastructure. They enable communities to extend the reach of cabled internet connectivity and to be in control of the planning, implementation and design of their own networks. Applications need to be in by the 19th of May.
Telecentres are a model for community ownership of information and communication technologies: a model that works and is gaining strength, according to various successful experiences in Latin America. APC member in Brazil, RITS, is a civil society organisation committed to this new logic which is based on solidarity.
A detailed study of Venezuela’s topography, a trip to Italy, some pieces of ‘public domain’ software, satellite dishes that cross mountains on all-terrain trucks, cables, generators. This is neither a capricious list nor are its elements surrealist digressions. The elements that we have just enumerated are part of an ambitious endeavour that recently became a reality: to break the world wireless connection record by establishing a 279 km long link.
In a country where the majority of the population lives below the absolute poverty level, where political crises and violence have done away with social institutions, does it make sense to invest energies in information and communication technologies (ICTs)? Canadian APC member, Alternatives, firmly believes in this opportunity.