Open Technology Initiative: How Geeks, Wonks, & Field Operatives are Fighting to Transform Inside-the-Beltway Policy-Making
Sascha Meinrath, New America Foundation
Tuesday, July 26, 12:30 pm Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor RSVP required for those attending in person to Amar Ashar (email@example.com) This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
Since its founding in 2009, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative (OTI) has been a catalyst for innovative technology and telecom interventions. OTI's formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. OTI is committed to maximizing the potentials of open technologies, particularly for poor, rural, and other underserved constituencies. Through its work, OTI promotes affordable, universal, and ubiquitous communications networks. This talk will focus on three projects that have captured substantial attention over the past year:
1. OTI is working in Philadelphia and Detroit to build community wireless networks in areas underserved by broadband providers. By working with a coalition of local community groups, OTI is tying connectivity to digital literacy and media production training. In addition, this $30 million initiative is provisioning public computer centers and providing computer hardware and training for participants who otherwise would not be able to get online. By helping organize Digital Justice Coalitions in these communities and documenting their success, OTI is developing exemplars that show policy-makers how innovative thinking around broadband service provision would have better outcomes for spreading affordable connectivity throughout the country.
2. OTI coordinates MeasurementLab.net (M-Lab), an open, distributed, global platform for Internet measurement tools. M-Lab is composed of an international coalition of network scientists, public interest groups, companies, and research institutions with a mission is to enhance the transparency of the Internet’s operation and thus help sustain its climate of openness and innovation. Currently, over 250,000 tests are run each day, creating a dataset of over 350TB of broadband information. Public access to M-Lab’s data sets permits policymakers, researchers, service and application developers, and other Internet users to analyze and better understand broadband connectivity worldwide.
3. Commotion Mesh Wireless Project (a.k.a., "Internet-in-a-Suitcase") -- as recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have illustrated (and Myanmar demonstrated several years prior), democratic activists around the globe need a secure and reliable platform to ensure their communications cannot be controlled or cut off by authoritarian regimes. To date, circumvention technologies have focused on developing services that run over preexisting communication infrastructures. Today, OTI is building a new type of tool for democratic organizing: an open source “device-as-infrastructure” distributed communications platform that integrates users’ existing cell phones, WiFi-enabled computers, and other WiFi-capable personal devices to create a metro-scale peer-to-peer (mesh) communications network.