When disaster strikes, the only way forward is to be prepared with procedures to facilitate connectivity, says Riaz Lamak, Programme Lead at Geeks Without Frontiers.
Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) recently hosted a disaster-preparedness programme for an Afghani delegation in the UAE. The SatellitePro ME had a conversation with Riaz Lamak, Programme Lead at Geeks Without Frontiers about what disaster preparedness entails.
Preparedness for a natural disaster primarily addresses multiple areas, according to Riaz Lamak, Programme Lead at Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS). “In order to be able to offer on-ground support and communications to people impacted by a natural disaster, they should be aware of what kind of support they can potentially tap into,” he explains.
Some of the key points addressed as part of preparedness were emergency licensing procedures; express customs clearance procedures for HADR; best suited technology; pre-positioning; quick installation deployments in terms of geographic vulnerability; spectrum availability; and cybersecurity threats.
“A country should be fully prepared when a big natural disaster hits,” explains Lamak. “If it’s a big disaster, external agencies like NGOs would like to come into the country and offer help. First, they will come with their comms equipment, such as mobile satellite phones (MSS terminal). They should ideally know beforehand what the emergency licensing procedure is, so that they are able to easily enter the country with their equipment.
“Normally, developed countries who plan their disaster response infrastructure consider a number of aspects. For instance, they earmark spectrum and keep aside some resources for their disaster management network. So it’s important to know what procedures a country has, so that when a disaster hits, the agencies involved are able to kick in with processes immediately.”
An unfortunate but common pattern in countries hit by natural disasters is cyber attacks. Lamak remarks that during a specific endeavour in Asia Pacific as part of a recent joint disaster preparedness exercise, he learned how cyber attacks are common during disasters, with hackers using the vulnerability of the area to cause further chaos. As part of the preparedness, therefore, awareness of this and alertness is required.
A third common issue during disasters is when NGOs try to come in with their equipment. Issues at customs can be extremely frustrating.
“When everyone is coming in with equipment to support, how does one ensure easy access or get a waiver at customs so one can come and go during that period? Hence, the process and procedure should be pre-defined. All this cannot be done after disaster has already struck.”
Lamak says countries typically earmark locations with pre-positioned terminals like satellite phones, VSATs, solar-powered radio sets, etc, such as in the Chief Minister’s office, the Prime Minister’s office, district-level offices and so on. While these comms terminals are normally used as redundant links, they can be activated for disaster mitigation. Once that challenge has been addressed, they are repurposed for business as usual.
“In normal circumstances, a country may use its network for social programmes like telemedicine, tele-education, office communication and so on. During a disaster, you can increase the bandwidth and use this same equipment for disaster relief and mitigation. We must remember that invariably mobility is down and fibre cut, so MSS & FSS satcom terminals are the best tools for first responder communications. Further, it should be remembered that with satellite imagery, we can identify where there has been maximum damage and send relief to those specific places.” Another element taught as part of preparedness is exploring which satellites have a footprint in a specific region. This is a very important step.
“We look at which satellite operators have their footprints and can put bandwidth on a specific geography. So we prepare them based on what bands each operator has, whether Ka-/Ku-/C-band, etc, and accordingly plan ground system hardware too. This is preparedness on satellite capacity and ground infrastructure.” The last element is trained personnel.
“If you have people trained on how to deploy quickly, connecting and communicating is achievable. This is why human capacity building is so important,” explains Lamak.
GEEKS, as a technology neutral expert, works with satellite, fibre, copper, RF, mobile and every other technology available, offering a hybridised technical design for connectivity. It assists nations in preparedness and trains personnel.
Lamak explains that in this particular instance, the aim was to sensitise and train the Afghan team on all of the above preparedness levels. They went through emergency communication licensing and customs clearance procedures, and were offered hands-on experience with various technologies, systems and communication equipment.
Article published by SatellitePro ME on December 8, 2019
Geeks Without Frontiers recently hosted a disaster-preparedness programme for an Afghani delegation in the UAE.
Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non-profit with the goal of leveraging connectivity to improve and save lives throughout the world, has – with support from the US government and in coordination with leading international organisations – successfully provided a disaster preparedness programme for the government of Afghanistan.
The programme, which also received support from key industry members, is part of a GEEKS global initiative. It harnesses connectivity, technology and regulation, and combines them with stakeholder resilience strategies focused on disaster preparedness, response and recovery, to help protect, save and restore lives.
“GEEKS is honoured to work alongside the Afghan government, in coordination with the US government, and with support from the United Nations and key communications companies,” says GEEKS CEO David Hartshorn. “The outcome of this programme is not only strengthened disaster preparedness, but also an important step toward the development of a national emergency communications plan for Afghanistan.”
Central to the GEEKS programme was an Emergency Communications Management symposium held recently in the UAE, delivered with support from the US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and made possible through funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Industry sponsors were also instrumental to the programme’s success, including Arabsat, Hughes and Intelsat. Knowledge and skills were imparted by subject-matter experts from throughout the GEEKS connectivity network to 25 Afghan delegates from multiple government agencies and local network operators.
GEEKS’ capacity building draws upon connectivity best practices, shared with the delegates by representatives of organisations central to international and national resilience initiatives. For instance, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, shares best practice in communications regulation, policy and spectrum management. During the programme, the ITU focussed on optimising these government functions for improved security and resilience.
The United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (UN-ETC), which coordinates disaster preparedness and response for UN agencies in disaster-affected nations in every major region, advised delegates on technology tools, operational strategy and key considerations for coordinating with ETC before and during relief efforts. The communications industry, represented by Arabsat, Hughes and Intelsat, shared updates on how state-of-the-art systems and services are being leveraged through resilience strategies for more effective preparedness, response and recovery. Hands-on skills building was provided by the GEEKS team, together with operators of the technology solutions used for disaster response.
The symposium concluded with an agreement to build upon the dialogue established during the programme, by collaborating on the development of a National Emergency Communications Plan for Afghanistan. A timeline for action was confirmed by all the stakeholders, whose contributions continue to be coordinated and supported by GEEKS.
The GEEKS capacity-building team was drawn from the organisation’s global network of leading connectivity experts, including Riaz Lamak, GEEKS International Programme Lead, who manages capacity building and facilitates performance quality assurance of assets, human resources and processes; Mazen Nassar, GEEKS Master Instructor and CEO of Mena Nets, which manages system integration, training and consulting through portfolio of seven technology lines; Joe Simmons, GEEKS Project Director, who has extensive experience addressing global connectivity challenges in the NGO sector; and Shafeeq Hamza, GEEKS Training Manager & MBC Trainer, as well as a GVF Certified Examiner.
SSPI Honors Humanitarian Organization with its ‘Better Satellite World’ Award During Annual Ceremony in London
2 December 2019 – LONDON, United Kingdom – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing the benefits of internet connectivity to unserved populations, was honored at the SSPI Better Satellite World award ceremony earlier today in London. The organization was recognized for its “Sustainability Models for the Global Fishing Industry” project, which is laying the groundwork to bring internet connectivity to small fishing vessels to protect human rights and the health of the oceans.
“Geeks Without Frontiers is exemplary in its work to promote satellite connectivity in service to a better world,” said SSPI Director of Innovation and Development, Lou Zacharilla. “Our Better Satellite World awards are designed to dramatize the immense contributions of the ‘invisible infrastructure’ that satellites bring to life on Earth. GEEKS is a well-deserving recipient, doing the work to ensure that the benefits of satellite connectivity reach populations most in need.”
GEEKS developed the commercially sustainable, satellite-based connectivity solutions, designed to help tackle forced labor and human trafficking in the commercial fishing industry. In addition to addressing human rights concerns via vessel geo-positioning and providing connectivity to the crew, the solution is sustainable because of its commercial benefits for vessel owners including the ability to transmit catch reports, monitor weather, conduct safe navigation and send distress signals. The same model can also be used to better address illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, overfishing and seafood fraud.
Sponsored by government and private sector stakeholders and drawing from the experience of multiple partners including satellite operators, terminal and component manufacturers, and value-added resellers, GEEKS provided research and analysis and identified technologies and business solutions for delivery of low-cost communications connectivity with satellite as a central feature. A critical element of the solution is also GEEKS’ regulatory and policy guidance for governments, to streamline licensing and spectrum allocations.
The SSPI Better Satellite World Awards (www.bettersatelliteworld.com) honor organizations that make the world a more prosperous, healthier, better-educated, sustainable and inclusive home for humankind. Award recipients were selected by an international jury consisting of a broad cross-section of industry thought leaders and distinguished professionals.
Founded in 1983, Space & Satellite Professionals International (www.sspi.org) is on a mission to make the space and satellite industry one of the world’s best at attracting and engaging the talent that powers innovation. With more than 3,700 members in 40 nations, it is the largest space and satellite industry association in the world. It delivers on its mission through programs, such as the Better Satellite World campaign and awards that promote space and satellite as the invisible but indispensable infrastructure of the modern world.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
Geeks Without Frontiers (http://www.geekswf.org) is a platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit, GEEKS mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected.
U.S. Government and Industry Supports Initiative, Sets Stage for Development of Afghan Emergency Communications Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non-profit organization with the goal of leveraging connectivity to improve and save lives throughout the world has – with support from the U.S. government and in coordination with leading international organizations – successfully provided a disaster preparedness program for the government of Afghanistan.
The program, which also received support from key industry members, is part of a global initiative of GEEKS, which helps to harness connectivity, technology and regulation, and combine them with stakeholder resilience strategies focused on disaster preparedness, response and recovery to help protect, save and restore lives.
“GEEKS is honored to work alongside the Afghan government, in coordination with the U.S. government, and with support from the United Nations and key communications companies,” said David Hartshorn, GEEKS’ CEO. “The outcome of this program is not only strengthened disaster preparedness, but also an important step toward the development of a national emergency communications plan for Afghanistan.”
Central to the GEEKS program was an “Emergency Communications Management Symposium”. Held recently in the United Arab Emirates, the program was delivered with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and made possible through funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Industry sponsors were also instrumental to the program’s success, including Arabsat, Hughes, and Intelsat. Knowledge and skills were imparted by subject-matter experts from throughout GEEKS’ connectivity network to approximately 25 Afghan delegates from multiple government agencies and from local network operators.
GEEKS’ capacity building drew upon connectivity best practices shared with the delegates by representatives of organizations that are central to international and national resilience initiatives:
The Symposium concluded with an agreement to build upon the dialogue established during the program by collaborating on the development of a national Emergency Communications Plan for Afghanistan. A timeline for action has been confirmed by all of the above-noted stakeholders, whose contributions continue to be coordinated and supported by Geeks Without Frontiers.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
Geeks Without Frontiers is a platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit organization, GEEKS’ mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – disaster preparedness, health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected.
The GEEKS capacity-building team was drawn from the organization’s global network of leading connectivity experts, including:
About the Sponsors
Founded in 1976 by the 21 member-states of the Arab League, Arabsat has been serving the growing needs of the Arab world for over 40 years, operating from its headquarter in Riyadh-KSA and two Satellite control stations in Riyadh and Tunis. Now one of the world’s top satellite operators and by far the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world, it carries over 500 TV channels, 200 radio stations, pay-tv networks and wide variety of HD channels reaching tens of millions of homes in more than 80 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Europe—including an audience of over 170 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region alone tuned into Arabsat’s video “hotspot” at 26°E. Operating a growing ?eet of owned satellites at the 20°E, 26°E, 30.5°E and 39°E, ARABSAT is the only satellite operator in the MENA region offering the full spectrum of Broadcast, Telecommunications and Broadband services. For information about Arabsat, please visit www.arabsat.com.
About Hughes Network Systems
Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) is the global leader in broadband satellite technology and services for home and office. Its flagship high-speed satellite Internet service is HughesNet®, the world’s largest satellite network with over 1.4 million residential and business customers across North and South America. For large enterprises and governments, the company’s HughesON™ managed network services provide complete connectivity solutions employing an optimized mix of satellite and terrestrial technologies. The JUPITER™ System is the world’s most widely deployed High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) platform, operating on more than 40 satellites by leading service providers, delivering a wide range of broadband enterprise, mobility and cellular backhaul applications. To date, Hughes has shipped more than 7 million terminals of all types to customers in over 100 countries, representing approximately 50 percent market share, and its technology is powering broadband services to aircraft around the world.
Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Germantown, Maryland, USA, Hughes operates sales and support offices worldwide, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS), a premier global provider of satellite operations. For additional information about Hughes, please visit www.hughes.com and follow @HughesConnects on Twitter.
EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS) is a premier global provider of satellite
communication solutions. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and conducting
business around the globe, EchoStar is a pioneer in secure communications
technologies through its Hughes Network Systems and EchoStar Satellite Services
business segments. For more information, visit www.echostar.com. Follow @EchoStar on Twitter.
Intelsat operates the world’s first Globalized Network, delivering high-quality, cost-effective video and broadband services anywhere in the world. Intelsat’s Globalized Network combines the world’s largest satellite backbone with terrestrial infrastructure, managed services and an open, interoperable architecture to enable customers to drive revenue and reach through a new generation of network services. Thousands of organizations serving billions of people worldwide rely on Intelsat to provide ubiquitous broadband connectivity, multi-format video broadcasting, secure satellite communications and seamless mobility services. For more information on Intelsat, visit www.intelsat.com.
23 October 2019 – New York City & London – Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) announced today the recipients of the fifth annual Better Satellite World Awards. The awards honour established companies along with disruptive innovators who make the world a more prosperous, healthier, better-educated, sustainable and inclusive home for humankind. An international jury selected the BIRDS Satellite Project, Geeks Without Frontiers Sustainability Models for the Global Fishing Industry and the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme to receive this year’s awards. The recipients will be honoured at the Better Satellite World Awards Dinner on 2 December at in London.
“The satellite industry continues to show its technical prowess but always in service to a better world,” said SSPI Director of Innovation and Development Lou Zacharilla. “This year’s group of recipients are exemplary in that regard.”
The selection of the recipients for the Better Satellite World Awards was made by an international jury consisting of a broad cross-section of industry thought leaders and distinguished professionals. This year, the jury decided to extend an honorable mention to Planet, for their work documenting the destruction of Rohingya villages and coral reef conservation.
The jury also chose to extend a special humanitarian recognition to the Avanti iMlango Project to reach students in marginalised areas in Kenya with individualised school instruction.The Better Satellite World Awards Dinner in London is produced by SSPI and its UK and Isle of Man Chapters, with the support of international law firm Milbank as well as Advantech Wireless, Airbus, CPI, Eutelsat, SES, Speedcast and Walton De-Ice.
The 2019 Better Satellite World Award Recipients:
BIRDS Satellite Project
The Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project was initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan with the help of over ten partner institutions. It was envisioned by Dr. Mengu Cho, Professor at Kyutech, who became Principal Investigator for the Project. The BIRDS Project trains graduate students from many developing countries in using innovative and cost-effective systems engineering during the course of a two-year satellite project. The BIRDS project was selected by the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) as the winner of the 2017 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award for diversity in engineering. The Project has provided training for students from many countries including: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Egypt, Ghana, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and Turkey.
One BIRDS project is begun each year, with 2019 marking the fourth generation (BIRDS-4) since the Project’s inception. The yearly projects are carried out by graduate students enrolled at Kyutech for a masters or doctoral degree, and such projects are supervised by four Kyutech faculty members. During these two-year satellite projects, the students design, develop, and operate CubeSats belonging to participating countries. Since 2015, the BIRDS Project has trained fifty-two graduate students, thirty-two of whom hail from under-represented countries, and launch eleven 1U CubeSats. Click here to learn more about the BIRDS Satellite Project.
Geeks Without Frontiers
Geeks Without Frontiers (Geeks) is a platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit, Geeks mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected.
Sponsored by government and private-sector stakeholders, Geeks has developed a commercially sustainable, satellite-based connectivity model, designed to help address forced labour and human trafficking in the commercial fishing industry. Whilst initially focused on Southeast Asia (the largest regional exporter for the global fishing industry), the Geeks model is a scalable template applicable to commercial fishing supply chains globally.
In addition to addressing Human Rights concerns via vessel geo-positioning and providing connectivity to the crew, the model has commercial benefits for vessel owners including the ability to transmit catch reports, monitor weather, conduct safe navigation and send distress signals. The same model can also be used to better address Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing, overfishing and seafood fraud. Click here to learn more about Geeks Without Frontiers.
UK Space Agency – International Partnership Programme
The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) is a five-year, £30M/year ‘space for development’ programme established in 2016, and currently the largest undertaking of its kind in the world. It focuses on utilising the UK space sector’s research and innovation capabilities to deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits to emerging and developing economies around the world. IPP has so far grant-funded 33 projects in 44 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and South America, which are run by a large variety of UK and international organisations across industry, academia and non-profit entities. These projects address a variety of critical issues, including reducing deforestation, climate/disaster resilience, remote learning, land-use monitoring, reducing maritime problems, health and renewable energy. The projects generally take between two and five years to be delivered, and range from £500k to £15M in grant value plus match funding. IPP’s portfolio of partners now include 122 space sector organisations and 132 international organisations.
The IPP website (www.spacefordevelopment.org) outlines the goals and benefits of each project, its activities and results, and provides links to open-source study documents. This data is available to any organisation (e.g. development agencies) seeking advice, case studies and information for their databases to improve future projects. Click here to learn more about the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme.
About the Better Satellite World Campaign
Working with partner associations and dozens of supporting companies around the world, Space & Satellite Professionals International’s Better Satellite World campaign (www.bettersatelliteworld.com) is changing the global conversation about satellites and their influence on the economy, business and societies everywhere. The campaign was launched in Washington, DC during SATELLITE 2015. It has since become a cornerstone and a viral effort that is successfully communicating the incredible power of satellites for human good.
SSPI has published a series of stories and videos that dramatize the immense contributions of the “invisible infrastructure” of satellite to life on Earth, which are widely shared by individuals, companies and the media. The Better Satellite World campaign is available for repurposing by any organisation or person who wishes to use the content to help promote the industry at www.bettersatelliteworld.com and through the Twitter hashtag #bettersatelliteworld.
Founded in 1983, Space & Satellite Professionals International (www.sspi.org) is on a mission to make the space and satellite industry one of the world’s best at attracting and engaging the talent that powers innovation. With more than 3,700 members in 40 nations, it is the largest space and satellite industry association in the world. It delivers on its mission through programs that promote space and satellite as the invisible but indispensable infrastructure of the modern world, and that help turn individual promise into careers filled with purpose through research, career education for young people, management education for working professionals and talent recognition that spans the industry.
MAUI, Hawaii, Sept. 18, 2019 — A first-of-its-kind global ad hoc coalition dedicated to developing and maintaining a set of “living” space-safety best practices was announced today at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference – AMOS.
The new coalition, the Space Safety Coalition (SSC), is comprised of space operators, space industry associations and space industry stakeholders. SSC aims to lead by example, actively promote responsible space safety through the voluntary adoption of relevant international standards, guidelines, and practices, and the development of more effective space safety guidelines and best practices.
To date, twenty organizations have endorsed the SSC’s Best Practices document, includingAMOS by Spacecom, Analytical Graphics, Astroscale, AXA XL, Centauri, D-Orbit, Geeks without Frontiers, Hellas-Sat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Iridium, Loverro Consulting, MAXAR, OneWeb, Planet, Providence Access Company, Secure World Foundation, SES, Space Data Association, Virgin andXTAR. Additional organizations are in the process of endorsing the initiative and more are always welcome to participate.
Entities endorsing this effort agree to promote and strive to implement the SSC’s set of aspirational best practices for the long-term sustainability of space operations. The SSC will evolve and maintain these best practices, which generally are applicable to all spacecraft regardless of physical size, orbital regime and constellation size. These best practices directly address, and in a complementary manner even surpass, existing guidance and standards published by groups such as the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
“This unique effort is a global-first in endorsing the current international set of treaties, guidelines, and standards, to address what spacecraft operators and stakeholders can additionally aspire to accomplish for the long-term sustainability of space operations — exceeding the status quo beyond minimum accepted consensus levels,” said Dan Oltrogge, administrator for the SSC.
The SSC and its coalition members will publish, coordinate, and periodically update these best practices in order to keep them well-aligned with responsible space operations and the evolving understanding of the orbital debris environment, to address gaps in space governance and promote better spacecraft design, operations, and disposal practices associated with long-term space operations sustainability.
Participation in the SSC is open to space operators (including governmental or intergovernmental entities), space industry associations and space industry stakeholders. “We welcome entities to join this collective global effort to develop voluntary standards and best practices to enhance space safety and sustainability,” Oltrogge said.
About the Space Safety Coalition
Formed in 2019, the Space Safety Coalition publishes a set of orbit-regime-agnostic best practices for the long-term sustainability of space operations. These best practices are generally applicable to all spacecraft regardless of physical size, orbital regime or constellation size, and directly address many aspects of the twenty-one consensus Long-Term Sustainability (LTS) guidelines approved by the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) in June 2019. Interested parties can visit spacesafety.org for additional information about the SSC, its mission, and guidelines.
For Additional Information: Dan Oltrogge, 719-482-4552, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Space Safety Coalition
Preparing for India’s First Woman Astronaut on the Moon! The Kalpana Chawla Scholarship Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism, and Space Studies to Honor Indian- American Astronaut Dr. Kalpana Chawla
STRASBOURG, France, July 11, 2019 — The Dr. Kalpana Chawla Scholarship project announces four of its funded scholars. According to Dr. Michael Potter of Geeks Without Frontiers, one of the scholarship founders, “The first Indian woman to land on the Moon has already been born. It is very likely that this young woman will go through an elite institution like the International Space University before she steps foot on the Moon in a little over a decade’s time. This scholarship project is an historic opportunity to achieve an international impact with very select, but very talented Indian post-graduate students.”
The Kalpana Chawla Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism and Space Studies at the International Space University (ISU) has been established to honor the Indian-American Astronaut Dr. Kalpana Chawla. The scholarship project is focused on developing strong technical and leadership qualities within talented Indian women.
The scholarship provides funding for Indian nationals to attend ISU’s Space Studies Program (SSP). The goal is to attract talented Indian women who are postgraduate students with backgrounds in science, medicine, materials, satellite technology, and other space-related areas of focus who also share Dr. Chawla’s selfless and passionate pursuit of education and excellence.
The 2019 Dr. Kalpana Chawla Scholars are:
Nikhitha Chadde is a social entrepreneur. She studied Aerospace Engineering from Alliance College of Engineering and Design, Bangalore and did projects at the National Aerospace Laboratories. Chadde finished her Flight Lab training from IIT, Kanpur. She co-founded an NGO called Society for Space Education Research and Development. She taught 4,000 people throughout India about space. She was the Winner in the Best Teacher competition organized by ISRO. She won a Best Science Communicator award from Karnataka Science & Technology Academy. She is also a mathematics and science teacher. Her areas of interest are space & science technology, women empowerment, and entrepreneurship.
Nitya Pandey was raised in a small rural town in Chhattisgarh, India. She fell in love with space in her school days. After high school, Pandey decided to join a Bachelor of Science program in her hometown and opted for Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as her major subjects there. While still an undergraduate, Physics grabbed her attention up to the superior level, and because of this she enrolled for the Master of Science program in physics, with a specialization in Astronomy and Astrophysics. She was involved in a two-month research project at IISc and attended a professional training school for astronomers at the ARIES Institute in India.
Aditi Nilvarna is from Thane-Mumbai, India. She received a B-Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering from NMIMS University, Mumbai in 2017. Her undying passion for space began in childhood and she has been profoundly interested in space research since then. Nilvarna’s current research interests include propulsion and additive technologies. She is also an art virtuoso as well as having been a regular participant in basketball events and served as team captain in volleyball during her undergraduate period.
Rushanka Amrutkar is a Ph.D. research scholar and teaching assistant at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), India. Amrutkar is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, satellite remote sensing specialist by profession, as well as the recipient of two best paper awards, an author of three books. She is a ‘scientista,’ supporting women in STEM, a singer at heart, and now rover in space, following a self-committed pace and engaged in the Earth and Mars exploration mission.
Since its founding in 1987, ISU has had more than 4,600 graduated students from over 100 countries. Together with hundreds of ISU faculty and lecturers from around the world, ISU alumni comprise an extremely effective network of space professionals and leaders that actively facilitate individual career growth, professional activities and international space cooperation. (www.isunet.edu)
This scholarship is a commitment to creating the building blocks that are necessary for India to maintain its leadership in the global space community and marketplace. Dr. Michael Potter, a co-founder of Geeks, is also an alumnus of the inaugural class of ISU which was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Geeks Without Frontiers (www.geekswf.org) is an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity to the estimated 3 billion people who remain unconnected in order to help close the Digital Divide and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Geeks Without Frontiers’ WomenConnect! initiative focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment by providing access to connectivity, technology and innovation that will give women unprecedented opportunities and education to break trends, boost technology-driven innovative solutions for sustainable development and remove barriers to the advancement of women and girls.
The project is actively seeking partnerships and sponsorships that will enable future Indian women scholars of talent to attend this extraordinary program.
By Jeffrey Pfeffer
During the mid-February wind and rainstorm, we lost power at my home for 37 hours and so did about 84,000 other people. A few weeks earlier, during another storm when we went without power for 19 hours, a PG&E representative said that 80,000 people were without power. Power failures affecting many people throughout Northern California are routine for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., California’s largest public utility, which recently entered bankruptcy for the second time. And it’s not just loss of power that bedevils the utility’s customers. Since 2014, PG&E’s equipment has been blamed for causing more than 1,500 Northern California wildfires.
PG&E invariably blames the blackouts on the weather and the wildfires on climate change. Ducking responsibility represents a frequently successful attempt to absolve the company from having to pay any damages.
PG&E customers suffer from power failures and wildfires because the utility has not done what it should to put its electrical lines underground.
Research going back decades finds that companies often engage in self-serving attributions for performance, with management taking credit for good outcomes and blaming unfavorable results on external and uncontrollable factors. A study of public utilities found that management took credit for good outcomes and shifted blame for the bad, but that this behavior was associated with less earnings per share growth than in utilities where management engaged in less self-serving behavior. Another study found that companies that made self-serving attributions for performance problems had statistically significantly lower stock prices one year later. The causal logic: Managers come to believe their own rhetoric, and thinking that poor performance is outside of their control, rationally do not make much effort to remedy the situation. If things are truly uncontrollable, why try?
Even as PG&E tries to shift blame for its many problems to uncontrollable external factors, few people seem to ask what to me seems like an obvious question: Why does bad weather cause so many blackouts for the company? One plausible explanation is because the utility has so many of its power lines above ground.
Underground power lines don’t start wildfires. Underground power lines aren’t susceptible to being knocked down by falling trees or blown over by the wind during storms. Moreover, most people don’t find utility poles particularly attractive. That’s why people prefer underground utilities.
The facts about PG&E and undergrounding show that the utility is responsible for power failures. For instance, between 2007 and 2017, PG&E spent only 68.4 percent of the small amount it budgeted for placing power lines underground. In not one year during that time did the company spend its full undergrounding budget. Moreover, while another California utility, San Diego Gas and Electric has almost 65 percent of its lines now underground, PG&E has buried less than 25 percent.
To explore these issues, I recently spoke with Dr. Michael Potter, a co-founder of the nonprofit Geeks Without Frontiers and a telecom business and social entrepreneur who has advised the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Among the initiatives sponsored by the organization is one aptly called, Dig Once The premise is almost painfully common sense: When utilities repair gas lines, when municipalities repair roads—in short, when any significant excavation or trenching is getting done—use that opportunity to lay conduit and put not just fiber-optic cable and phone lines underground but also power lines. Digging once is an idea with tremendous appeal because, by some estimates, 85 percent of the cost of putting utility infrastructure underground is the expense of digging trenches and then repairing what was disturbed in the process.
Potter described in frustrating detail how difficult it is to get utilities to work together or to embrace the idea of making utility infrastructure more resistant to natural disasters. Again, PG&E provides the perfect illustration. When it repaired gas lines damaged by the Santa Rosa fires by trenching, it nonetheless replaced the damaged electrical infrastructure in some neighborhoods by once again stringing overhead wires on poles.
Potter’s point: The estimated costs of putting power or other utilities such as telephone lines underground are tremendously overstated. Yes, it costs a small fortune to dig a trench. But every day all over Northern California, roads are being dug up and repaired, gas lines are being replaced, water mains are being upgraded, cable is being laid, and so forth. If municipalities forced utilities to coordinate and, to use a phrase, dig once and enhance infrastructure resilience in a coordinated fashion, the total cost would be substantially less than repairing, replacing and undergrounding utilities one at a time.
The citizens of California would enjoy more robust and modern infrastructure less susceptible to natural disasters.
All that would be required to have better utility service is a little common sense and coordination, things that seem to be in short supply these days.
Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
By Matt Jones, Staff Writer, Virginian Pilot
Davion O’Neal ran up the street, two of his friends close behind. Out of nowhere, a blue car jumped the curb and screeched to a stop in front of him.
Pressing the space bar, he hopped onto the roof of the car. O’Neal and his friends are playing a game on Roblox, a multiplayer online gaming platform based in a world built of Lego-like blocks. It’s one of the games they’re encouraged to play in the computer lab at the Citizens Boys and Girls Club on Shell Road in Hampton to promote teamwork and good communication skills.
He couldn’t do this at home — his family doesn’t have internet.
It’s not an uncommon story. About 57 percent of Newport News and 74 percent of Hampton households had broadband in 2017, according to the Census Bureau.
Joseph Belk, 8, was playing another game on a Chromebook laptop provided by the club. He does have internet at home, but he has to share a computer with the rest of his family.
“My sister gets it on Sunday, my brother gets it on Monday and I get it on Saturday,” Belk said. “The rest of the week my mom has to use it.”
According to survey data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, about 40 percent of the households near the Boys and Girls Club unit didn’t have a subscription to an internet service between 2013 and 2017.
About 18 percent of households in that census tract, bounded by Shell Road and Pembroke Avenue, didn’t have a computer.
“You do have a lot of them who are, you know, not as fortunate. So, computers, laptops, things like that aren’t common in their household,” unit director Keisha Waller said.
She said she regularly sees the benefits of giving students the opportunity to play online in teams, not just for homework for research, like they had been doing earlier in the day about historic African American figures.
“It causes them to interact positively too,” Waller said. “The computer brings them together as a whole.”
Internet statistics can vary significantly between neighborhoods.
In the census tract that includes downtown Newport News, about 50 percent didn’t have internet between 2013 and 2017. In another, adjacent to Richneck Elementary School, only 7.5 percent didn’t have internet.
That first part of Newport News had a median annual income of about $25,000 during that time period, compared to about $51,000 for the city as a whole. Near Richneck, the median income was about $77,500.
Internet providers have infrastructure across the area, according to Newport News director of planning Sheila McAllister.
“It’s just a matter of providing the service at a cheaper price,” McAllister said. “A lot of people don’t have service because it’s just too expensive for them to have.”
When broadband is too expensive
Cox Communications offers a low-cost plan that provides broadband and a free Wi-Fi modem for $9.95 a month to households participating in certain benefits programs with a school-aged child.
But, said Yugonda Sample-Jones, a southeast Newport News resident and community activist, that still excludes some low-income residents.
“They can’t get the $9 special because they owe a past bill, so therefore they don’t have internet,” Sample-Jones said.
Other residents might rely on cell phones. About 6 percent of Hampton and 8 percent of Newport News households used only cell data plans for internet access in 2017.
There are a few places southeast Newport News residents can find free Wi-Fi, such as the McDonald’s on Jefferson Avenue.
Community resources include computer labs at Ridley Place’s Family Investment Center and the Pearl Bailey Public Library on Wickham Avenue, although both have limited hours.
For children who are members, Boys and Girls clubs also can provide an opportunity to get online. At the Citizen’s unit, Wi-Fi, internet safety classes and printers are available.
Kids could go to a library, Waller said, but they need parental assistance to get a library card.
“If you already have a parent who’s not very active in your life, it’s hard to get them to,” she said.
Schools lend helping hotspot
Hundreds of students in Newport News and Hampton have gained internet access in the last couple of years thanks to schools and cell phone provider Sprint.
Newport News Public Schools started participating in the Sprint 1Million project last school year. Sprint provides mobile devices — either a Wi-Fi hotspot, cellphone or tablet — for free to high school students who don’t have internet access.
The district issued about 640 devices last year, according to Brandie Wright, who coordinates the program for the district. So far this year, it has issued about 200.
“To be honest, I think we were actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as many students that didn’t have internet access, based on our demographics,” Wright said. “However, we know that the population is still there and it’s very distinct for our school district.”
Most students in the program, according to Wright, didn’t have a device of their own to use for homework.
Now students who can’t make it to school or are suspended can complete some school work. Wright said students also use hotspots and tablets to finish graduation requirements through online classes if they didn’t graduate on time in May.
“I’ve seen (teachers reaching out) more this year than last year, which is good because that has told me that the word has gotten around that we have this program available,” Wright said.
Hampton City Schools joined the program this school year. James Maxlow, tech support manager for Hampton schools, said the district has issued 548 hotspots since October.
The hotspots compliment other device programs, according to Maxlow.
In Hampton, all students from fifth grade up get Google Chromebook laptops. Three Newport News high schools provide those to students.
“There’s just a lot more engaging instructional experiences they can provide while at home,” Maxlow said. “We have cases where students are checking their Google classrooms and interacting with teachers each evening through this program.”
Plans for future
Newport News director of library services Sonia Alcantara-Antoine said city libraries are working on a plan to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots.
“If you are in the digital divide — where you don’t have access to technology or you don’t have the skills to be able to use a computer to access those government forms or get your prescriptions filled or fill out that online job application — it makes it extremely hard for you to just get ahead,” Alcantara-Antoine said.
The program will start with the Bailey library, likely within the next year, and expand if it proves successful, Alcantara-Antoine said.
That library serves some of the communities where broadband is the scarcest, including the Marshall Courts and Ridley Place public housing communities.
About 64 percent of Ridley Place households don’t have access to a computer with internet at home, according to a city assessment.
Newport News is one of four 2018 finalists for federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grants of up to $30 million to revitalize the Marshall-Ridley area.
McAllister said the city started a broadband study in conjunction with a consultant in southeast Newport News in August. Her office is in the process of reviewing the results.
Internet access proposals floated as part of the grant include increasing the number of computer labs in the area and creating a network of Wi-Fi hotspots, possibly using existing utilities such as light poles.
Sample-Jones, who is serving as a community liaison in the CNI grant process, hopes that the city can use its young people to help implement the initiative. The city will find out in March if it won the grant.
“If they’re helping their elderly neighbor around the corner get internet access, and this is their job or they’re getting their community service hours for school, it seems like it would work,” Sample-Jones said. “It’s a great idea.
“Then our internet would be affordable.”
WASHINGTON, DC — (November 8, 2018) – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) announced today that GEEKS’ CEO, David Hartshorn, has been appointed to a working group of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), focused on accelerating the deployment of broadband Internet access. Hartshorn will be supporting the working group tasked with disaster preparedness and recovery.
“We commend FCC Chairman Pai’s initiative, to prioritize the importance of disaster recovery and preparedness,” Hartshorn said. “Geeks Without Frontiers shares the view that there is, today, an important opportunity to leverage technology, regulation, policy and stakeholder collaboration for impactful disaster preparedness. It’s an honor to play a role in the development of mission critical broadband solutions in the U.S.”
GEEKS’ support for the working group builds upon initiatives that are closely aligned with the FCC’s priorities, particularly as they relate to bridging the digital divide. Those initiatives include the following:
Successful strategies for implementation of sustainable connectivity will also be the focus of GEEKS’ “Connectivity is the Revolution!” Thought Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. on 4 Dec. 2018. Government and industry officials will gather for this high-level event, designed to drive and inspire global efforts to help bridge the digital divide and bring connectivity to the estimated 3.2 billion people who do not have the benefit of internet access.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models. To get involved with the organization visit www.geekswf.org, and to learn more about the GEEKS Thought Leadership Forum visit www.connectivityforum.com or email Geeks at info@GeeksWF.org.
Announcement Made During Singularity University Global Grand Challenges Summit Includes Call for Partners to Join ‘Coalition of the Willing’
20 August, 2018 — SAN FRANCISCO, California – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) has unveiled its “HumanityConnect!” initiative, a multi-sector collaboration with a dual objective: to empower forcibly displaced people throughout the world — including disaster-affected and refugee populations — through improved access to community-based connectivity-driven solutions.
The launch of HumanityConnect! was accompanied by a call for partners during the Global Grand Challenges Summit. David Hartshorn, GEEKS’ CEO, said: “We are inviting like-minded stakeholders to join us as we leverage state-of-the-art connectivity for — and with — local communities. The sheer scale of the challenge is compelling: the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that there are an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world that have been forced from their homes. In addition to millions of disaster-affected individuals, there are more than 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. In collaboration with partners from the public and private sectors, GEEKS is setting out to meet that challenge with HumanityConnect!”
Two related GEEKS initiatives – ‘DigOnce!’ and ‘CommunityConnect!’ – were selected as finalists in previous Global Grand Challenge Awards in 2016 and 2017, respectively. GEEKS co-founder Michael Potter explained: “These GEEKS initiatives are designed to drive realization of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s recommendations for countries to ‘develop enhanced national broadband plans’ and to ‘update regulatory frameworks for broadband’ in recognition of the vital role of broadband in building and transforming economies and societies and achieving the SDGs.”
GEEKS co-founder John Morris elaborated: “The GEEKS initiatives provide powerful tools that can be harnessed by any country to help develop broadband services as an important part of their national broadband strategy and policies.” Co-founder Chris Stott said: “After announcing the DigOnce! model law initiative at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in 2016, GEEKS was appointed to a working group of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and has played an important role in helping to develop a Model Code designed to help accelerate broadband deployment and close the Digital Divide in the U.S. GEEKS is proud to have been of service and plans to support similar public-private sector collaboration throughout the world.“
Via Globe Newswire
WASHINGTON, May 02, 2018 — Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), an award-winning Non Governmental Organization (NGO) focused on addressing global connectivity challenges with a view to closing the Digital Divide and facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is delighted to announce the appointment of David Hartshorn as Chief Executive Officer with effect from July 1, 2018.
Mr. Hartshorn, who will be supported by Angie Mar in her new role as GEEKS’ International Program Director, brings more than 25 years of experience tackling global communications issues including helping to build and lead the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), an international association focused on all aspects of improving access to satellite-based connectivity.
GEEKS co-founder Michael Potter said, “GEEKS has achieved a lot in the last three years with the launch of its Model Law on DigOnce!, the success of its Community Connect initiative and GEEKS’ appointment to a working group of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (a new body focused on accelerating the deployment of broadband Internet access in the USA). We have ambitious plans for the future, and David and Angie’s skills and experience will enable us to accelerate our connectivity programs.”
“Since GEEKS’ inception, I have admired the Founders’ vision and the strategic approach of the team and their advisors,” Mr. Hartshorn said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity, at this moment in history, to pursue the organization’s goal of positively impacting the lives of a billion people through the innovative use of technology, connectivity and sustainable social enterprise models. In addition to helping to expand and accelerate the rollout of GEEKS’ current initiatives, I look forward to establishing a global community and platform to help close the digital divide by bringing communications-enabled health, education, security and other solutions to unserved and underserved global communities.”
GEEKS’ co-founder John Morris said, “David has extensive experience of the satellite eco system, the broader communications sector and the global NGO community and this, together with Angie’s international experience at Intelsat and GVF, will help GEEKS to build on its previous successes and to move forward at a faster and more informed rate.”
GEEKS’ co-founder Chris Stott said, “In recognizing the vital role of broadband in building and transforming economies and societies and achieving the SDGs, governments are increasingly willing to collaborate and work in innovative ways with the private sector. The GEEKS team is committed to working together with all stakeholders who have a shared interest in achieving a more connected and inclusive world.”
Via Globe Newswire
Washington D.C., March 12th, 2018 – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) is delighted to announce strong support from the satellite and connectivity communities for its CommunityConnect! initiative, designed to drive and inspire a global policy effort to close the digital divide, to accelerate satellite broadband connectivity to the estimated 4.2 billion people who do not have the benefit of internet access, and to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GEEKS is also delighted to announce that CommunityConnect! won the Pacific Telecommunications Council’s ‘Best Regulatory Innovation’ Award.
CommunityConnect! is a code of best practices for Satellite Operators, Regulators, Service Providers and Integrators, designed to help promote the more rapid and cost-effective deployment of satellite broadband to communities globally. The initiative would not have been possible without the knowledge, experience and commitment of our expert working group, which included BLUETOWN, EchoStar Corporation, Eutelsat S.A., The Global VSAT Forum (GVF), ManSat LLC, SES S.A. and law firm Reed Smith LLP.
Since its release at the GEEKS annual conference in Washington DC on October 21 2017, CommunityConnect! has also been endorsed by the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, the Asian Pacific Satellite Communications Council (APSCC), Telesat, Intelsat, the Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI), the International Space University (ISU), the International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC), the Danish Telecom Industry Association (TI), the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
GEEKS co-founder John Morris said, “The Geeks initiative reflects the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s recommendations for countries to both “?develop enhanced national broadband plans?” and to “?update regulatory frameworks for broadband” ?in recognition of the vital role of broadband in building and transforming economies and societies and achieving the SDGs. CommunityConnect! will provide a powerful tool that can be harnessed by any country to help develop satellite broadband services as an important part of their national broadband strategy and policies.”
Fellow co-founder Michael Potter said, “GEEKS is inspired by the recognition of both the satellite industry and the Pacific Telecommunications Council of the strategic importance of CommunityConnect! to the global community especially as connectivity is critical for bringing educational, healthcare, social, economic and e-government benefits to communities and has a pivotal role to play in helping to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
Chris Stott, GEEKS co-founder, said, “CommunityConnect! is the next logical step in opening up broadband for the global community. The technology, the need and the demand are there. We now need to ensure that the regulatory paths are also there in order to enable it all to happen. This endorsement of CommunityConnect! by so many experienced industry participants and by the Pacific Telecommunications Council is a ringing validation of the importance of this initiative.”
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS’ goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models. GEEKS’ initiatives include: DigOnce!, VillageConnect! and CommunityConnect!.
GEEKS was a Global Grand Challenge finalist in 2017 for its CommunityConnect! initiative and also in 2016 for its DigOnce! Model Law. DigOnce! is a global policy initiative designed to help close the digital divide by introducing a customizable legislative framework designed to increase the availability of broadband internet facilities by reducing the time, cost, and environmental impact of rolling out high-speed terrestrial communications networks. Following the release of DigOnce!, Michael Potter (and John Morris as alternate) was appointed to a sub-committee of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, which is focused on introducing model codes of practice designed to help close the digital divide in the U.S.A. John Morris, a UK qualified Barrister, is the architect and principal author of both the DigOnce! and CommunityConnect! initiatives.
About the Pacific Telecommunications Council
The Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) is the global non-profit membership organization promoting the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the Pacific Rim, the most dynamic geography of the world, spanning over 40 nations. PTC enables its members to conduct trade in facilities, technologies and services and to use the power of ICT to improve the quality of life in the Asia-Pacific region. PTC is recognized for many of its initiatives, including its Annual Conference, the Pacific Rim’s premier ICT event where 7,000+ members and industry attendees gather annually in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Via Globe Newswire
Washington D.C., October 19, 2017- Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) announced the release of its CommunityConnect! initiative, designed to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide, and to accelerate broadband connectivity to the estimated 4.2 billion people who do not have the benefit of internet access. CommunityConnect! is code of best practices for Satellite Operators, Regulators and Service Providers & Integrators, drawn up in conjunction with thought leaders from the satellite and broadband communications industry, and designed to help promote the rapid and cost-effective deployment of satellite broadband.
GEEKS’ co-founder Michael Potter said: “The CommunityConnect! vision is to enable 100% availability of broadband communications services everywhere, providing businesses, governments, hospitals, schools, NGO’s, individuals and others with access to broadband services, wherever they are located. This will help to bring the educational, healthcare, social, economic and e-government benefits to communities everywhere and facilitate and accelerate the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).”
GEEKS’s co-founder, John Morris said: “The Geeks initiative reflects the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s recommendations for counties to both ‘develop enhanced national broadband plans’ and to ‘update regulatory frameworks for broadband’ in recognition of the vital role of broadband in building and transforming economies and societies and achieving the SDGs. CommunityConnect! will provide a powerful tool that can be harnessed by any country to help develop satellite broadband services as an important part of their national broadband strategy and policies. The initiative addresses the core challenges that need to be met in order to help facilitate the more rapid and cost-effective deployment of satellite broadband services.”
The CommunityConnect! initiative would not have been possible without the knowledge, experience and commitment of the industry experts that helped to create the best practices code. The CommunityConnect! working group, includes BLUETOWN, EchoStar Corporation, Eutelsat S.A., The Global VSAT Forum (GVF), ManSat LLC, SES S.A. and law firm Reed Smith LLP. The group compiled a review of the factors influencing the availability and cost of satellite broadband and compiled the “Best Practices for Satellite Operators, Regulators, and Terrestrial Service Providers” in order to help achieve ‘Connected Communities’. The report provides strategically important steps that governments, regulators, funders, the satellite industry and other service providers can take to help promote Connected Communities as part of an informed Information and Communications Technology policy.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS’ goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models. GEEKS’ initiatives include: ‘DigOnce!’, ‘VillageConnect’ and ‘CommunityConnect!’.
GEEKS was a Global Grand Challenge finalist in 2017 for its CommunityConnect! initiative and also in 2016 for its ‘DigOnce!’ Model Law. DigOnce! is a global policy initiative designed to help close the digital divide by introducing a customizable legislative framework designed to increase the availability of broadband internet facilities by reducing the time, cost, and environmental impact of rolling out high-speed communications networks. Following the release of ‘DigOnce!’, GEEKS’ co-founder Michael Potter (and fellow co-founder John Morris as alternate) was appointed to a sub-committee of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, which is focused on introducing model codes of practice designed to help close the digital divide in the U.S.A.
Via Globe Newswire
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Geeks Without Frontiers(GEEKS) announced today that the non-profit organization has, for the second year running, been nominated for the Global Grand Challenge Awards for its ‘CommunityConnect!’ initiative to be announced at the August 13-15, Singularity Global Summit in San Francisco, California.
The 2017 Global Grand Challenge nomination is for GEEKS’s satellite broadband focused ‘CommunityConnect!’ initiative, which aims to help close the global digital divide by introducing best practices for satellite operators, entities regulating and licensing satellite bandwidth, and operators on the ground. GEEKS’s co-founder, Michael Potter said, “We are honored that the high impact Geeks Without Frontiers initiatives have continue to be recognized on a global level.” The ‘CommunityConnect!’ working group has several industry experts including from EchoStar, ManSat, the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the law firm Reed Smith, and BLUETOWN.
As part of ‘Connectivity Week’, to be held in collaboration with the IEEE, GEEKS will hold its October 20th 2017 ‘Connectivity is the Revolution’ thought leadership forum in Washington D.C. At the conference, GEEKS will formally release its ‘CommunityConnect!’ international model code and best practices initiative designed to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide, and help to bring connectivity to the estimated 3.2 billion people who do not have the benefit of internet access.
GEEKS was also a finalist in 2016 for its ‘DigOnce!’ Model Law, a global policy initiative designed to help close the digital divide by introducing a customizable legislative framework designed to increase the availability of broadband internet facilities by reducing the time, cost, and environmental impact of rolling out high-speed communications networks. Following the release of ‘DigOnce!’, GEEKS co-founder Michael Potter (and GEEKS Director John Morris as alternate) was appointed to a sub-committee of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, which is focused on introducing model codes of practice designed to help close the digital divide in the U.S.
About the Global Grand Challenge Awards
Singularity University (SU) believes that leveraging the convergence of exponential technologies will advance us along the path to solving our Global Grand Challenges (GGCs), and will shift humanity from an era of scarcity to one of abundance. There are twelve global grand challenges: Energy, Environment, Food, Shelter, Space, Water, Disaster Resilience, Shelter, Health, Learning, Prosperity, and Security. In addressing each GGC, SU is solving for the following three perspectives: ensuring basic needs are met for all people, sustaining and improving quality of life, and mitigating future risks. A maximum of three participating organizations are selected for each of the 12 GGC’s.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models. GEEKS initiatives include: ‘DigOnce!’, ‘VillageConnect!’ and ‘CommunityConnect!’
Via Globe Newswire
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – May 16, 2017) – Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) announced today that founder, Michael Potter, has been appointed to a working group of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), a new body focused on accelerating the deployment of broadband Internet access. Potter will be focused on the working group tasked with developing model state and municipal codes.
Michael Potter remarked, “We commend FCC Chairman Pai’s initiative, to prioritize and accelerate the roll-out of broadband connectivity. There is a direct relationship between connectivity, bandwidth and sustainable economic development.” Potter further explained, “I have spent my entire professional career accelerating broadband connectivity. This is definitely my passion and my calling. It is an honor to be able to play a role in identifying and developing solutions for how to scale sustainable broadband connectivity in the U.S.”
In addition to founding Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non profit organization focused on positively impacting the lives of a billion people over the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models, Potter brings extensive commercial experience in developing international broadband networks. He served on the Board of Directors of Global Connect, a Danish Internet infrastructure provider, which has deployed nearly 10,000 miles of fiber optic network in Northern Europe. Potter was Vice Chairman, Co-Founder and President of Esprit Telecom plc., the first pan-European competitive telecommunications service provider. During his eight years at Esprit, his team grew to 1,000 employees in over nine European Countries and a market capitalization of $1 billion.
Geeks Without Frontiers views Potter’s appointment as a synergy with our efforts to help close the digital divide. He brings extensive telecommunications knowledge, problem solving and analytical skills to the Advisory Committee.
At our “Connectivity is the Revolution!” thought leadership forum last year, GEEKS released its Dig Once! international model legislation to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide, and bring connectivity to the estimated 3.2 billion people who do not have the benefit of internet access.
Dig Once! provides a customizable legislative framework designed to increase the availability of broadband Internet facilities by reducing the time, cost and environmental impact of rolling out high-speed communications networks.
Over 80% of fiber optic costs are related to digging trenches for laying fiber optic cabling and the roll-out of fiber is not coordinated or optimized.
The GEEK’S Dig Once! initiative envisages the joint use of existing networks (including utility networks), the automatic incorporation of fiber into new and modified infrastructure developments such as roads and railways, the centralization of information about networks and network capacity and the coordination of civil works so that fiber rollout is optimized.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity, and sustainable social enterprise models.
The GEEK’S Dig Once! initiative was selected in August 2016 for the Singularity University’s Global Grand Challenge Awards.
Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) announced on October 21st, at the Connectivity is the Revolution! thought leadership forum, the release of its DigOnce! international model legislation to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide, and bring connectivity to the estimated 3.2 billion people who do have the benefit of internet access.
DigOnce! provides a customizable legislative framework designed to increase the availability of broadband internet facilities by reducing the time, cost and environmental impact of rolling out high-speed communications networks.
“Over 80% of fiber optic costs are related to digging trenches for laying fiber optic cabling and the roll-out of fiber is not coordinated or optimized.” said London based Attorney, telecoms entrepreneur and one of GEEKS founders, John Morris.
The GEEK’s DigOnce! initiative envisages the joint use of existing networks (including utility networks), the automatic incorporation of fiber into new and modified infrastructure developments such as roads and railways, the centralization of information about networks and network capacity and the coordination of civil works so that fiber rollout is optimized. The model law also contains provisions ensuring that communications network providers can deliver their services and that new and modified buildings are broadband ready.
The legislation is designed to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide. It is intended for use by Governments and NGOs as a model for approaching how best to bring the social, educational, and financial benefits of broadband to the greatest number of people quickly and efficiently. It has equal relevance to The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission which is now focused, from a policy point of view, on how to bring together concepts of broadband Internet with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
About Geeks Without Frontiers
The GEEKS goal is to positively impact the lives of a billion people in the next ten years through the innovative use of technology, connectivity and sustainable social enterprise models.
GEEK’S is progressing its strategic initiative of bringing internet to a billion people within the next 10 years (‘Broadband for the next Billion’) by focusing on two key strategies:
The GEEKS DigOnce! initiative was selected in August 2016 for the Singularity University Global Grand Challenge Awards.
The Connectivity is the Revolution! thought leadership forum is being convened in partnership with the Space Policy Institute at the George Washington University.
Geeks Without Frontiers (www.geekswf.org) is proud to announce that we have been short listed for the “Global Grand Challenge Awards.” The Awards are a central part of the upcoming Singularity University’s Global Summit in San Francisco which Geeks will attend. It is not a simple task to positively touch the lives of a billion people in the coming decades, yet the summit is focused on understanding the impact of exponential technologies on humanity’s greatest challenges.
Geeks Without Frontiers was selected because of its “DigOnce!” initiative. The social, educational and economic benefits of broadband connectivity have been widely recognised and connectivity is just as much a C21st revolution as rail was in C19th and electricity in C20th. Geek’s current goal is to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic networks in both advanced and developing economies. When 90% of fiber optic costs are related to digging the trenches for laying the fiber optic cabling, the vision of the DigOnce! initiative allows for the installation of empty fiber optic conduits (the plastic pipes that fiber is later “blown” or “pulled” through) as new roads (and other infrastructure) are built and existing roads are dug up to enable fiber to be installed.
The Geeks DigOnce! team, has developed Model Legislation designed to require developers of new roads and companies digging up existing roads to lay sufficient fibre optic conduits to take care of future growth. I also deals with requiring other utility operators (water, gas, electricity etc) to share their infrastructure where appropriate. Doing this will save material cost and time and help to speed up the roll out of broadband connectivity. It is also a “green” initiative, since it advocates laying the conduits any time new roads are built or old ones are repaired. This will prevent a future need to tear up the roads to lay fiber optic cables and will avoid the associated disruption and negative effect on the environment.
Large road projects funded by the European Union, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank could require conduits to be installed during road construction or road expansion. The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission is now focused, from a policy point of view, on how to bring together concepts of broadband Internet with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
DigOnce! is part of Geek’s ‘Broadband for a Billion’ initiative the other main part being VillageConnect which aims to bring ‘proof of concept’ connectivity to 20 villages/refugee camps in the next 18 months. www.geekswf.org.
Geeks Without Frontiers has developed an open infrastructure initiative called DigOnce! a plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic networks. DigOnce! will speed the creation of gigabit villages around the world.
90% of fiber optic cost are related to digging the trenches for laying the fiber optic cabling. The vision of the DigOnce! initiative allows for the installation of empty fiber optic conduits (the plastic pipes that fiber is later “blown” or “pulled” through) as roads are expanded and built across the developing world.
If the decision is made to put fiber optic cabling into roads after they have been built or expanded, it is both enormously expensive and intensely pollutive. Additionally in some jurisdictions, an internet provider that is interested in cutting into brand new roads and highways, will be asked to take over the 10 or 15 year warranty on the road, provided by company hired to build the road.
DigOnce! from a policy point of view and a legal basis would require roadworks to lay conduits to pave the path for fiber optic cables for enhanced speed and bandwidth. The initiative is “green” since it advocates laying the conduits any time new roads are built or old ones are repaired. This will prevent future need to tear up the roads to lay fiber optic cables.” DigOnce! can also be expanded to those road digs that are necessary for the installation and expansion of water systems, sewer infrastructure, natural gas pipelines and other village and municipal utilities.
Large road projects funded by the European Union, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development, and the Asian Development Bank could require conduits to be installed during road construction or road expansion. The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission is now focused, from a policy point of view, on how to bring together concepts of broadband Internet with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
As part of GEEKS action plan, we are developing a White Paper on DigOnce!, as well as model DigOnce! legislation. This can be used in countries around the world to accelerate the achievements of Sustainable Development Goals. To follow-through and to ensure the success of these initiatives will require a tremendous amount of outreach and advocacy and continual education of the compelling benefits of DigOnce! The final take-away is that DigOnce! allows for rapidly developing low cost, high capacity green fiber telecoms infrastructure, which can positively touch a billion lives around the world in the next decade.
Can we work connect Everyone on Earth to the Internet by 2020? Can we do so focused on leveraging its low cost, open source WiFi technologies to deliver broadband, especially to rural areas of the developing world? At Geeks Without Frontiers we believe that open sources technologies, social enterprise, low cost phones and devices as well as new satellite systems make this goal achievable.
Importantly, GEEKS believes that the year 2020 will be viewed as the ‘Communications Singularity’—a single moment in time when for the first time in history every person on the planet will be connected. Based on recent economic models, a case can be made that bringing broadband to one billion people could create up to $1 trillion dollars of economic impact over the next decade.
The goal of GEEKS’ new initiative is to combine the power of social enterprise, Open Source, and low cost technologies to allow WiFi to go ‘viral’ in the developing world. Providing an ecosystem of software tools, hardware, and backhaul capability to establish village to bring broadband to the next billion.
We believe the key is to combine the power of the marketplace with affordable, state of the art, open source tools which will facilitate internet WiFi networks going viral around the globe. It’s harnessing the power of economics as opposed to traditional models of aid. It’s using market forces to bring sustainable solutions to unconnected areas of the world through access to enhanced communications. Geeks Without Frontiers wants to close the global digital divide by inspiring tens of thousands of local entrepreneurs to run small, local Internet businesses.
Now that High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity is coming online over the developing world, the next big challenge for Internet connectivity will be off-grid sustainable energy to power the Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), enabling the roll-out of village Internet connectivity.
An important driver for this expansion of internet connectivity by the end of the decade will come from open source WiFi- based mesh networks. WiFi solutions, together with an “ecosystem” of hardware and software tools, to enable the development and rollout of large-scale mesh WiFi networks for fractions of the traditional network cost making access to broadband in rural areas an affordable reality.
The ecosystem of tools to include micro-payment systems, network management systems, a local advertising module and, eventually, renewable energy solutions to power the wireless networks. These represent a major step in achieving the vision of affordable broadband for all, capable of bringing tremendous economic and social benefits to millions of people, especially in areas where legacy broadband models are currently considered to be uneconomical.
President Obama announced his administration’s strategy for achieving national broadband internet access coverage. No reasonable person can argue against the importance of broadband internet for driving economic growth, development, innovation, education, and entertainment.
We applaud the administration for bringing more attention, and debate to the critical issues associated with broadband. However, I believe it is imperative to contribute two additional unifying principles.
First, broadband is not simply a domestic national issue, it is fundamentally a global issue. I am not suggesting U.S. citizens and taxpayers should be unfairly burdened with any additional global challenges and responsibilities.
However, I passionately believe in the power of leadership by example. Let’s show the world that this vision is achievable. Political rhetoric is not sufficient. Ultimately the final criteria for success must be predicated on the power of our actions, and of course, the real impact that we are able to achieve! Not only will this country and the world judge our success, but more importantly, so will history.
The second fundamental principle is the necessity for financial and economic sustainability and scalability of broadband business models. I have argued for years, that broadband internet is a fundamental human right. It is important that the notions and principles of universal “access” are not confused with slogans that are not financially sustainable. We should be cautions of political and governmental slogans the proclaim “free,” or “subsidized,” internet.
Universal access can best be achieved by ensuring a vigorous, openly competitive marketplace. This will facilitate the creation of more and better innovation, new services, open source protocols and lower prices. It is critical that consumers are empowered, and that they have access to the open source tools, so that consumers are better able to influence their own broadband future.
What should be driving our broadband future is a market that is based on open competition, underpinned by appropriate business oriented competition law and regulation. Policies that seek to turn the internet into a regulated utility, operated by monopolists and quasi-monopolists under the false banner of “free,” or “subsidized” will not lead to financial sustainability, but to complex redistribution, and poorly allocated public spending.
The government is less efficient at picking winners and losers both in terms of business models, and also in terms of superior future technical solutions. We must allow for a free market to create a myriad of technologies, the best of which will help to solve the challenge of achieving ‘broadband access for all’. Policymakers need to ensure that smaller internet service providers can have open, competitive, wholesale access to the fiber optic networks of the existing monopoly and quasi monopoly providers.
Sustainability and scalability, with access to open networks, open source tools and dynamic markets will allow broadband investments to be paid back, so that the funds can be “paid forward” to other communities, allowing broadband to go viral, as opposed to heavily regulated and complex subsidization schemes, that tend to slow and suppress internet growth. The democratization of broadband requires open markets, the best technologies and global thinking in a world where it is becoming increasingly clear that the wellbeing of any part is symbiotically related to the wellbeing of the whole.
In the year 2020, I argue that everybody on the planet who desires to be connected to the Internet, will have the capability to have Internet access. I call this single moment in history, when every human being is connected to the internet, the “Communications Singularity.”
If we get this debate right, we can collectively make a tremendous impact. The benefits will be much greater than any single nation state may deliver by themselves, but a few nations united, can ultimately have an impact that can benefit the majority of humanity.
If the correct decisions are made, about broadband and internet access in 2015, we can positively impact the lives of a billion people in less than 10 years time. That is a goal worth fighting for!
Finally, one of the initiatives, of this presidential administration, which holds great potential is the so called, “dig once,” initiative. This initiative calls for allowing fiber optic internet providers to have access to underground facilities whenever the roads are opened up by those replacing water pipes, cable TV, electric companies and the like. Nearly 90% of all cost related to installing fiber optic cabling, is related to the digging cost. If we can essentially eliminate digging cost we can provide consumers with higher bandwidth, lower cost internet access.
Not only do we have to get the policy of “dig once,” to work here in the U.S., we need to provide the model legislation that will enable countries around the world to be empowered and take the leadership role in providing low cost internet to their citizens.
July 10, 2013 (Redondo Beach, California) — Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS) today announces the release of its vision to bring broadband to the next billion – ”Broadband for a Billion (B4B): Working to Connect Everyone on Earth to the Internet by 2020″ – focused on leveraging its low cost, open source WiFi technologies to deliver broadband, especially to rural areas of the developing world.
GEEKS believes that the year 2020 will be viewed as the ‘Communications Singularity’—a single moment in time when every person on the planet will be connected. Based on recent economic models, a case can be made that bringing broadband to one billion people could create up to $1 trillion dollars of economic impact over the next decade.
The goal of GEEKS’ new initiative is to combine the power of social enterprise and low – cost technologies to allow WiFi to go ‘viral’ in the developing world by providing an ecosystem of hardware and software tools to establish village WiFi networks and to bring broadband to the next billion.
Michael Potter, one of the founders of the GEEKS initiative explained, “combining the power of the market with affordable, state of the art, open source tools will help internet WiFi networks to go viral globally. It’s the power of economics as opposed to aid. It’s using market forces to bring true and lasting change to unconnected areas of the world through access to enhanced communications. Geeks Without Frontiers wants to close the global digital divide by inspiring tens of thousands of local entrepreneurs to run small, local Internet businesses.”
An important driver for this expansion of internet connectivity by the end of the decade will come from open source WiFi- based mesh networks. GEEKS and its partners, the Tides Foundation, Google and Global Connect have, along with Cozy Bit and I-Net Solutions, developed a new open source WiFi standard 802.11s that has now been certified as the global standard by the IEEE. The WiFi solution, together with an “ecosystem” of hardware and software tools, will enable the development and rollout of large-scale mesh WiFi networks for a fraction of the traditional network cost making access to broadband in rural areas an affordable reality.
The ecosystem of tools will include micropayment systems, network management systems, a local advertising module and, eventually, renewable energy solutions to power the wireless networks. These represent a major step in achieving the vision of affordable broadband for all, capable of bringing tremendous economic and social benefits to millions of people, especially in areas where legacy broadband models are currently considered to be uneconomical.
Wireless communication is now being viewed as an important political and economic issue. In April 2013, Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, argued, “By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected.” More recently, in June 2013, President Barack Obama declared that we must, “encourage further development of cutting-edge wireless technologies, applications, and services,” in his presidential memorandum entitled, “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation.”
The GEEKS ‘Communications Singularity’ vision to bring “Broadband for a Billion (B4B): Working to Connect Everyone on Earth to the Internet by 2020,” is available on the GEEKS website (www.geekswf.org) and will soon be available as an iBook for free download on iTunes.
Geeks Without Frontiers is thrilled to work with the RHO Appleseed School in Lusaka, Zambia.
In an effort to acquire more land and new green technology facilities to accommodate the growing school, GEEKS launched an online crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo that raised more than $11,000.
The hope is that the new school can serve as a model for other independent rural schools throughout Africa.
August 3, 2011 (Mountain View, California) –Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), an initiative of the not for-profit Manna Energy Foundation, focused on using technology and social enterprise to have a positive impact on a billion people in 10 years, today announces the final development of an innovative, low cost, open source, Wi-Fi software technology facilitated by a grant from the Tides Foundation.
GEEKS expects that this technology, built mainly by Cozybit, managed by GEEKS and I-Net Solutions, and sponsored by Google, Global Connect, Nortel, One Laptop Per Child, and the Manna Energy Foundation, will enable the development and rollout of large-scale mesh Wi-Fi networks for atleast half of the traditional network cost. This is a major step in achieving the vision of affordable broadband for all, capable of bringing tremendous economic and social benefits to millions of people, especially in areas where legacy broadband models are currently considered to be uneconomical.
“By driving down the cost of metropolitan and village scale Wi-Fi networks, millions more people will be able to reap the economic and social benefits of significantly lower cost Internet access,” explained Michael Potter, one of the founders of the GEEKS initiative. “GEEKS is honored to work with the Tides Foundation, Google, and others, in moving towards making the dream of significantly lower cost global access a reality.”
Geeks specially recognizes Javier Cardona of Cozybit for his key role in this project and who, together, with security expert Dan Harkins, have worked to ensure that the GEEKS Wi-Fi software utilizes the strongest authentication methodology known to exist for mesh networks, providing exceptional security. Harkins confirms that his approach of SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) is secure to offline dictionary attacks. In addition to secure authentication, the latest release of open80211s (o11s) implements the AMPE (Authenticated Mesh Peering Exchange) which enables multiple authenticated nodes to encrypt traffic between themselves. Combining SAE and AMPE creates an unprecedented level of security in mesh networks. This combination of high level security and open source code will help to ensure that new networks utilizing o11s are materially safer and yet significantly lower cost to deploy.
GEEKS also recognizes Andrew Gold of I-Net Solutions, and Karl Garcia of Google who, in developing two free Wi-Fi networks currently delivering free broadband to more than 100,000 people in California, helped define the components of low-cost highly-scalable mesh Wi-Fi.
The next step in the GEEKS project is to complete the current open source implementation of the upcoming IEEE mesh standard 802.11s which is expected be ratified in the 4th quarter of this year. The software is currently available at www.o11s.org