Servelots started in 1999 with the aim of developing a Pantoto project, based on web software for communities to manage community knowledge. In 2002 Servelots initiated Janastu, a collective and non-profit that sought to understand and support the technology needs of other non-profits and communities. Janastu has been granted 12A tax exemption for its work on “Software Commons”.
Servelots and Janastu have worked regionally, nationally and internationally with a wide range of partners: with Mitan on renarration of Bio Cultural Protocols and the Follow Sheep project; with the Alternative Law Forum on renarration of the Minimum Wages Act; with Maraa on community radio policy technology application; with Development Alternatives on community radio audio-tagging and indigenous archives; with NCBS on the 25 years exhibit of the archives; with IIHS on a media monitoring service; with Gottingen on the Democracy Archives; with Bogazici University on renarration web research; with the Freifunk group on mesh networks; and with Reseau Billital Maroobe of Niger on developing an IVR box for BCP dialog initiation with their shepherding communities.
Janastu and Servelots have been engaging with Wi-Fi mesh networking since 2004 after the tsunami havoc on the east coast of south India. They started working with friends from the Freifunk community and other organisations on rehabilitation-related networking needs. After the Dharamsala Wi-Fi Summit in 2006, volunteers worked with students and local communities to set up urban mesh networks similar to those of Freifunk. The Follow the Sheep work with a pastoral network in India experimented with tiny mesh networks at nomadic shepherd camps in 2010. They also worked with the deployment of a Commotion network in a rural area which is in the forests and hills about two hours from Bangalore, after an OTI workshop in 2014.
Since then they have been encouraging the use of mesh for services such as archives and annotations for low-literate community needs for media making, archiving and retrieval using a number of approaches. Servelots organised AntHillHacks, a gathering of artists, techies, educators, environmentalists, local villagers and students from nearby schools to come together at a hill location and deliberate over a Wi-Fi mesh network and its potential (anthill.janastu.org). With Development Alternatives, they worked on tagging of community radio material by the community so as to help ease navigation of audio content. Hackergram residents developed it further by engaging the community locally.
Lately, they have been collaborating with the Pragathi Foundation, which operates with rural public schools and village communities in developing mesh-based community radio services, making and using Raspberry Pi devices for media recording and dissemination over the network archives. They help organise Barcamps and other open source events. See j.mp/unbox-janastu for their recent work and a pictorial overview of community activity at j.mp/janastu-mesh and j.mp/janastu-servelots.