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Remote Communities Receive Linux-Based Communications

Via Solar and Bicycle-powered Systems

Inveneo is a non-profit, social enterprise organization that designs, integrates and deploys affordable, sustainable, open ICT (Information, Communications, Technology) solutions for NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) and the remote communities/villages they serve worldwide.

Inveneo uses Asterisk-based technology for its solar- and bicycle-powered Linux-based communications system that provides basic computing, voice calling, and Internet access for villages without access to electricity or telecommunications. Because of the solution's open source origins, systems are deployed at a fraction of the cost compared to solutions based on proprietary technologies.

Challenge
There are over one billion people in underserved communities around the world who don't have basic access to electricity or telecommunications. Communication is the basis for communities to improve their own situation and participate in determining their own destiny. Inveneo's Digium/Asterisk-based solution enables communities to communicate through voice calling, simple computing, and Internet access (including e-mail). Having these tools can mean:

  • The difference between life and death (medical applications)
  • An increase of 50-100%+ profit on crops (commerce applications)
  • A better future for the children (education applications)
  • The ability to communicate ideas with the rest of the world
Solution
Inveneo's first solution is a solar and bicycle-powered PC and communications system that provides basic computing, voice calling, and Internet access for villages without access to electricity or telecommunications. It uses standard off-the-shelf PC, VoIP, and WiFi technologies that have been ruggedized and adapted for the local environment and language in addition to Digium's Asterisk solutions. This pedal-powered system was developed over the last two years on a purely volunteer basis and is working today. The first system was developed with villagers in remote locations in Laos to understand their specific needs and by working with volunteers and technology experts in the Bay area to finalize the system.

Implementation
Inveneo's first pilot deployment is with Action Aid, a UK-based NGO for their ICT project serving 25 remote villages in the Bukuuku district in Uganda. The Village Communications System was deployed in five villages and has been operating since June. It enables Action Aid to provide these village communities with powerful communications tools.

Results
Through the Action Aid deployment, the NGO provides these village communications with:

  • Greater access to information that they have requested to improve their lives including AIDS/HIV and women's health care information, regional market prices for farm goods, news about government and NGO projects relevant to their communities needs and more.
  • Communications (phone/e-mail/Internet) to facilitate community projects and information sharing among the communities, Action Aid, government agencies, other NGOs, and the world.

More Stories By Laura Mellow

Laura Mellow is chief operating officer of Inveneo. Prior to joining Inveneo, she held leadership and senior management positions at AT&T, Iridium LLC, GRIC Communications, Inc., Velocity Consulting, and Airpath Wireless, Inc. Laura earned her BS/BA from The American
University in Washington, DC, and her MBA from George Washington University.

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