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# APC FINAL NARRATIVE REPORT: 2021 LocNet Community Network Grant
Please answer the following questions briefly and submit the final narrative report no later than the 2021 date stated in your contract. Please limit your report to a maximum of 8-10 pages. If you want to send any additional information attach it as appendices.
Please note that the approved final narrative report may be shared and read by our donors as part of our reporting purposes.
### A. Administrative information
* Name of Organisation: Servelots Infotech Pvt Ltd
* Title of Project: 2021 LocNet Communty Networks: Servicing the COW
* Agreement #: SG2021/65/LocNet
* Type of Grant:
* Date Submitted: August 31, 2022
* Name of person who completed the report: T B Dinesh
* Community Network name(s) where you operate in 2021:
1) CN 1: COWMesh
* Name of two institutional representatives:
1) T B Dinesh
2) Shalini A
* Project period: 15 June 2021 – 14 June 2022 extension date 31 July 2022
* Country: India
### B. Project report
#### Focus Areas
##### 1. Focus Areas (Objectives)
Please write down the focus areas1 (or objectives) of your 2021 LocNet community network grant and explain briefly how you think the project contributed to achieving your focus areas. Provide any evidence (including available information and indicators) that you have that your objective was (partly or wholly) achieved.
Janastu.org provides a sketch of our activities and interest areas in general. Janastu and Servelots are sister organisations.
COWMesh region has 4 villages and our Iruway community "campus" area serving and addressing a range of needs and activities which include node management, negotiation with villagers and schools, exposure of platform and services as shared/sharable space, inculcating holistic learning practices, opening the 'technology' to women, aged and the young, channel for their expressions and opportunity for new collaborations and to introduce curation and ownership. COWMesh is also a conduit to outside these villages not only for communications and Internet access but also to expose the area for tourists and learning opportunities. With this project, we have
**Focus area 1: technology, innovation and development**
While making use of available tools on the Internet, we recognize the needs of a CN are a set of tools that are not only resilent to internet shutdowns but also are available independent of the internet connectivity. Also that every CN has to discover the community needs and aspirations including their young, the old, the traditions, historic misappropriations and main stream neglect now in progress upon them. Most significant for us - a tech inclusive team - is the conception and development of our CN ecosystem and help replicate or adapt our methods and tools. We also realise that our communities are disparate - while some of us have smartphone and laptops, most of the community do not have any devices or the devices are with male head of households. This we see as an opportunity of sorts for us to work in an alternate world with shared resources and infrastructures.
* 1.1 Local services and server implementations
a) especially using low-cost single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi - deployed 6 RPI devices where some are connected to large screens (used during covid by teachers and now for general learning and workshop activities. See activities below.
b) captive portals
- a platform that helps negotiate access to internet through vouchers
- a CN-portal that opens up sharing and discovery of CN services
Work on captive portal is "on-going" and is taken up as an activity on its own. We have gone back to passwords instead of vouchers. The available software for LibreMesh, Pirania, is ideal as it supports distributed management instead of central control with other such tools. However, Pirania is not developed enough for general community needs like ours where traffic control and voucher management can be handled by the community stewards.
A general CN-portal page serves as page for all users, that announces the CN services and aids for community metwork support. COWlanding page now has announcements, requests, events, services, node-information cards, general information, etc
Announcements for the community (in english for report needs)
Sampling of a few cards on the CN Portal page
c) On a number of local social networking and hyper-media annotation services for the many in the area who are marginalised by the literates.
Papad and Community Radio are tools and services we imagine will start the process of inclusion on the long run, where content accessibility issues can be tackled for those who are non-literate, the old and the young.
We have continued work on Papad. Media repository for a CN that encourages fragment annotations. These "Web annotations" in turn help discover and navigate the media content. In addition, third party applications use the api to drive apps like map-tales and community-radio.
Papad excels at its ability of making sense of not a single media (audio / video) but on a group of media. It can draw parallels, co-relate ideas/facts/arguments, augment responses to make sensible conclusions with references. While Papad in terms of co-relation is in its early days of development, it already has the abilities allowing for a user to make sense from a single or a group of media. Papad has a lot of exciting development upcoming, documented as a part of the project milestones (on gitlab papad repo).
Also see http://files.janastu.org/s/6boiLcrKzejDryk/download a set of slides on how to use Papad prepared by Maya group for their health workers. Also see more in the Feminist Server article in the Annex A.
d) education and learning management systems (LMS)
With Chigaru Coop and Quest Alliance groups, we have started conversations that help them use COWMesh as an available platform for their work on education and learning management that focus on material that is custom for regional communities. We are actively mapping community resources where people and their knowledge and skills are also mapped.
e) local voice calls and audio/video streaming for local radio/TV
This is future work where we provide streaming services for community users. We are seeking and experimenting with Element like application that are user friendly for audio calls. We also plan to integrate Video calls with Papad so that community can have a sustained dialog over audio and video content.
* 1.2 Frugal technologies and innovation with an environmental justice lens such as reuse and repurposing of technology and the use of alternative energies and local materials.
Our Community Radio activity involved in repurposing a number of boxes and cases that are available in the area such as old telephone booths as new radio devices by embedding raspberry pi that connects to the mesh network inside it. We are also exploring reusing openWRT routers for mesh needs and to explore enclosures that are more local to bring local pride to their identity and to encourage local craft skills.
* 1.3 We have a number of dweb and decentralised services that we are planning as longer term research experiments
Papad, nextcloud, COWMesh platform / home page, maptales, local communications. We took a copy of our COWMesh server to dWebCamp to further dialogs on CN services.
* 1.4 Network stability, analysis and handover to local groups
Our continued efforts are to see what brings active involvement of community groups. We organise events and workshops and actively try to hire community members - esp., women.
* 1.5 Support for online classes and learning content delivery
We have installed raspberry pi based devices, some with large screens. We have monetised tutoring and fun learning activities at these locations. These devices and students get Internet access through the COWMesh.
* 1.6 We are collectively working on gaming learning with internet vouchers as incentives among other local creative approaches such as the 0penstuid0 work and Feminist Technology Playground. Makkala Habba (Children festival):
**Focus area 2: gender and women’s participation**
* 2.1 Community inclusion, incentivisation and monetization
Activities and project involve Feminist Technology Playgrounds,
block print workshop, CN portal services, etc
**Focus area 3: enabling policy and regulatory frameworks**
* A model of CN space that needs a practice based possibility as one model for regualatory needs.
See article by Shafali on significance of CNs for regulators.
* Renarration of acts and laws which include BCP (bio cultural protocol) style of sharing local protocols and contexts for regulatory bodies and policy upward flow.
see mitan.in/bcp/raika as an example.
## Project contribution
Please list the activities that were planned for the year (please refer back to your contract for the list of activities. They can include monthly online dialogue, women circles, audio-visual productions, learning exchanges or webinars, for example) and explain (one by one) the results of each activity. Highlight positive and negative aspects of the activities. Highlight ways in which what you did was different from what was planned. Give reasons if you did not do the activity or you changed the activity in any way.
Actual outputs or results
Reflections (including comments & changes)
**Activity 1: Network Stability**
* playing with different antennas. Tried parabolic antennas instead of sector antennas.
* These parabolic ones were locally available and made in nearby city of Bangalore. For the nodes that were at the fringes (~2km away) the parabolic antennas worked well. We have now aquaried 4 more LRs without the default sector antennas so as to get local ones. We are also going to make antennas with help of a CoP proposal, starting next month, in partnership with Altermundi.
* for better internet stability upgraded modems with latest version available at the ISP
* we had to increase the main pipe to fibre to be 300mbps and slowly but surely had to deal with a number of upgrades as we went above 100mpbs speed. Some of the Ubiquity powerbeam routers, we realised, were defective as they were not give us above 100mbps and had to be replaced - many weeks of debugging and replacement efforts. We had to buy lightbeam routers for intermediate time. We later used to lightbeam to get a fater connection to the resource starved iruWay campus. This resulted in renegotiating the mesh architecture many times. There was also renewing of the main building where the main mesh nodes is located. We had to create an alternate location during the renovation.
* Power upgrades. Better batteries and higher number of solar panels. Because of the monsoons and winters
* Monsoons, wasps and corrosion of ports have caused many visits. These were the times we could monetise and get local community to help understand the issues and practice maintenance. Monsoons also caused worry for the nodes that rely only on solar power, as very often by early morning hours until the sun comes up strong these nodes would be down.
* The core team was away for nearly 2 months. The community and volunteers visiting the Iruway farm managed the network. Some common issues were wasps taking over the POE lines, bad wind or rain might have changed the directions of the antenna. Battery draining due to the power fluctions. Not enough solar power to charge the battery. We don't have evidences as we connected with them through regular calls and sometimes data calls (unrecorded sessions).
* Anthillhacks our weeklong annual stakeholder meeting with workshops
* Anthillhacks.in our event that started end of December and ran into Jan was well attended and we reviewed and presented the network and engaged with the community by using the mesh setup! We had a disctributed event where the community could participate from near their residences. Sessions were local but available for other nodes. Community participation increased by many folds and we now understand that it is necessary to have session near them as earlier even when they came to the event they would not partipate for more than a few minutes.
**Activity 2: Provisioning unPCs**
We have setup 6 raspberry pi based unPCs. The one at the remote Thimmanayakanahalli has become a center for continous FTP and 0penstudi0 activities. It has been used by local girls to enhance their school curriculum and 2 girls who used a similar device during COVID lockdown period as now mentors at this location. One FTP activity can be seen in the video https://files.janastu.org/s/6boiLcrKzejDryk where a girl is wispering in a mirror (to herself) on what she wants to be and salutes with respect her image in the mirror.
0penstudi0 activity has engaged creative arts. Chiguru Coop and girls from AC3 (Ambedkar Community Computing Center) work with local girls in this dalit village. Freeing expression and rational thinking team games in addition to reading or watching together documentaries. These activities percolate to other nodes areas to a certain extent.
An unPc was set up in the temple town on the hill during the annual fair where 1000s of people visit in a cafe. Visitors to the cafe/resturant could get a glimpse of the permaculture and craft center work. Also how locally bio fertilisers and pesticides can be made which are organic and earth friendly.
Women at CrafterSpace, the craft center, had training on block printing by local creative enterprenuer. She had provided learning material which the women use, using the unPC, to learn. Also was interesting for them to see their the shirts they made and the badges being used at dwebcamp.
Installation during Anthillhacks event, was a dramatic experience. Women conducted cooking session and their whole neighborhood got share and to see others participating in activities on other neighborhoods. The dalit village activity was streamed to other locations and visa versa.
**Activity 3: Vouchers for all**
While we made progress in activating the LRs with Pirania and vouchers, we found it more interesting to delegate the voucher generation work to women in the community. We are progressing with the idea of not only gaming the voucher generation but also on ways to make it a community and women engaging activity. This started well but opened up possibilities we need to look at in the way the community may benefit in a overall sense. This is unfinished activity.
**Activity 4: Offline first apps**
We have tried but not been happy with offline communication apps. Community needs it and we see that to help them recognise that CN can parallel communication services comparable to centralised ones (telephones and whatsapp like). We keep our fingers crossed to be able to provision this - a user friendly, simple to use toolset that works between phones and also our unPCs.
Papad is the main offline first toolset we demo and use to record their stories. The rapid state of development of Papad has also interfered in regular use of it within the community as upgrades and migration of data bring constant maintenance work. Papad however has been enthusiastically used in other CNs context where a mix of developers, researchers, designers use it along with community where health information is shared.
Upshot of Papad development is that other offline applications such as MapTales and Community Radio app work has started that uses the media repository to source (local) content.
**Activity 5: Workshops - every 2 months**
We have numerous workshop, some small and some large over the last year.
a) Anthillhacks event
b) Electric vehicle making
c) Battery management workshop
d) Resource mapping with TVS school kids and Durgadahalli school
e) Youth gathering discussion about the mesh and voucher systems
f) elders gathering - discussed the stigma that set in 3 years ago related to teen age girls who were RJs eloping. The villagers shared that there were other girls too who had eloped. We shared that the parents approve and were happy about the RJ activity.
g) Serveral FTP workshops.
h) Idealogy session and community discussion with Workbench team, led by Anupama, from Bangalore on making Maker Space as a space of active engagement.
i) Block printing workshop - community mobilisation & reviewing crafterspace
j) AC3 - activity described above
k) mudhands - various workshops on sustainable building practices
l) community cooking - number of sessions where the women in the community demonstrated traditional recipes including special ones on ritual days.
m) HQ karnataka hikers on rock climbing and camping expeditions.
n) NLP workshop with IIITB on research work to learn to identify words using a corpus of local audio content and to enhance it for Papad use case.
We asked for an **extention of a month**, as the block printing workshop and related engagement had been announced but was delayed due to rains and other issues related harvest as the rains stopped. These activities are seen by the community on the CN portal and encourage livelihoods based on creative engagement. The development of marketing ideas and sharing of different aspects of product making were observed - tailoring. block making, color and design approval, order processing and market engagement that in presented to be seen by locals and outsiders on the network. We notice that the women were discussing the network available, lending to the community ownership of network in turn.
### 3. Relevance to your organisation
Please briefly describe how this completed project has influenced you and the team in future. Specifically, does the organisation have plans to conduct further related activities which will build on this area of work?
Our organisation and our friends in our collective see great value in this work. Many of them bring their activities to the area and use the CN services while also clearly advocating the need to also use this setup as an available infrastructure for their own activities - tech development, learning management and local governance. Moreover, our own wish is to setup a model of a CN that opens caring doors of technology to communities. That this is replicable so policy and regulatory bodies take note. **So yes**, we plan to include more services and indulge in CN acitivies even more. We are now hoping to interconnect with other CNs and provide residencies that help actively, intensly and intimately collaborate with other CNs on a number of focus area activities. After dwebcamp, we are now conversing about collaborating on a general set of tools for CNs (with digital democracy and altermundi and ..), and via CoP https://hackmd.io/2-uMnns3Qwub_drQWbrv6Q
We are already collaborating with a number of organizations in codeveloping common applications and services. This article provides a depiction of a collaborative future:
Feminist Tech Playgrounds with Community Server & Software Studios. A locally hosted server, owned and operated by the local community, along with a host of open-source software studios that enable services of local content collection, creation, sharing and monetization are being discussed.
We will be working closely with DigitalDemocracy tools TerraStories and Mapeo. And to see how our long term work on BaaApp (FollowSheep app) and Mapeo can converge while also Community Radio applications, Maptales and TerraStories can converge as CN applications and services.
PAPAD: an open-source tool co-designed with community members enabling them to collect, annotate and create a repository of local knowledge via audio, image, video and text, thereby enabling access across multiple access barriers.
PICKLE: a tool that enables easy-to-use creation of multimedia content from the annotated repository by the community members.
Community Radio & other tools for sharing of content with communities: A set of tools that enable easy sharing and engagement of the content with the community members via different access modalities.
Digital Currency: Enabling monetisation and participation of the community members in the local digital economy. The currency can be used for both physical goods and services as well as digital services that are available on the community network.
### 4. Overall reflection
Please write a few paragraphs of general reflection. Write about:
* What went very well in the project - what are you especially proud of?
We are able to get community attention to the mesh network and convey resonably to friends of out collectives on the need to have a decentralised network and services, for now as a laboratory to identify and experiment with an integration of several needs and activities of the community and to also see that a CN could in turn result in rehasing of community roles leading to a more equitable and inclusive future.
* What did not go very well, and why?
The idea if developing a tech tool that would address a need created by the dynamics in a community was short lived. We are now exploring how community can be part of the solution space (say wrt traffic control). While having said that we do experience that it is not easy to get tech people to work in the village. We are visiting colleges and talking to youth groups in nearby city. In the meantime, we have been able to attrack parttime job seekers and more local people which is not bad start. Monetization is certainly a way to go forward. Vehicles to communte locally became a problem, as out electric vehicles were not reliable during rains and reparing them in a workshop mode took months. Also our petrol vehicle broke down and such delays have resulted in a certain slowing down in the project while we do think that because of this, the community as owned up more responsibility in CN activity. Things could be different if we had 2 more people who could effectively extend the team. One shortfall is a self motivated documentation person.
* What would you change if you were to do this project again?
We would start with continous documentation of tech and cultural programs. We are working with Quest Alliance who recognise this and would like to fund that activity as in turn they would be able to replicate CN architecture, tools and services to other regions where they are making inroads. We also think that CoP proposed projects are a change in the right direction. Further more, post Covid, we have the possibility to bring catalysers from other CNs and we are looking forward to that.
* What did you learn in the dialogues with other CN grantees, particularly during the organised monitoring meetings?
We enjoyed meeting them offline and online. Each CN is different and its hard to see how we can identify with each other. However, these meetings have made us aware that a number of CNs are more similar than different and have there own trajectory and approach to address their community need. That we started tech related exchanges and then gender and feminist meetings and then on ways the activists are locating themselves as part of CNs. We now think that it is unsual to find CN practitioners and co-working with other CNs that we see eye-to-eye is likely to ease us jumping some hurdles.
### 5. A Story
We want to hear not only about what you did, but also about how the activity made this world a better place. In a few paragraphs, please tell a story of change that relates to your project. It can be a story of how somebody’s life improved, or a community impact. With your consent, we would like to share this story publicly online in the APC website.
Feel free to use some of the generic questions below to help guide the narrative:
During the course of this project period we had tried ways to involve community to participate in the maintainance of the network.
a. main target was youths from the village. work from home people, college going youths and even the higher secondary school kids for their online education. Although they were using the network they were not fully involved in maintaining the network. We had to call them for any kind of maintaince. They would not volunteer not they will complain of the network failure.
b. Now slowing schools and colleges are opening after the Covid period. Now the kids need go to school physically. Now the expenses are very different from the Covid times. Books, uniforms, travel cost, school fees, donations, additional demands from the kids asking for phone and pocket money, etc.. This made the women in the family to look for jobs within the village. Roopa and Sridevi who wanted some regular income after the Anthillhacks event. We hired them as a cook and for domestic help at the Iruway farm. We heard their struggle of getting admissions for their kids in the colleges. Stories of women who lost jobs because of the pandemic, even the struggles of getting daily wage job in the field during summers and heavy rains. People came asking us jobs.
c. block print workshop and FTP space
- encouraged women to maintain the network.
- recongistion for their product on the local network
1. Why was your activity a relevant one for the community you work in?
How did it come to life?
2. What was the most significant change that has occurred among community members? What makes this significant, mostly in terms of their quality of life? You can address changes on the levels of knowledge or awareness, changes in personal development, changes in attitude and behaviour, changes in participation in activities that aim to bring about positive social or political change, etc.
3. Is this something other organisations could replicate and readapt?
4. Has this project inspired you to connect with other group and movements?
5. Can you share an insight on gender and women’s engagement that stood out from this project?
6. What was supportive to your project?
we can reduce the story to visiting dwebcamp -
copying NUC, setting up LR mesh, speed issues, crafts interest, recogni
Or this made me revisit some photos from my (dinesh) camera over the last year. There are a 100 stories.. maybe in these 1111 photos https://photos.app.goo.gl/zgD1W2RBLowLKk7z9
Maybe we can write one from each: COWMesh individual, COWMesh collaborations, COWMesh set in context of larger India (our Oct-Dec 2021 road trip visiting many areas for mesh networks and traditional/cultural crafts contexts), Many workshops in the COWMesh region including the Anthillhacks or the women of COWMesh community. Or make one with patches from many.
**we will get back on this soon**
### ANNEX A: Outputs & Documentation
Please include links to: videos, blogs, reports, manuals, press releases, applications and any other result of the project that are available online.
### Images and videos
Links to writings:
### Some articles
Having a COW on Climate. Community Networks, gender justice, inclusion, slowness as significant for our ecosystems.
Feminist server as a collective effort. Papad and mesh-networks are significant components.
on significance of CNs for regulators.
Killjoy Cooking Network
by Eeshita Kapadiya and Mrinalini Sebastian
Until the Cows Come Home
Aamne Saamne Pi
by Shafali Jain
Earlier speculative digital futures document at
We hope to intesify inter-CN work post the amazing gathering at the dwebcamp.org 2022 which ended last week.
APC Agreement https://drive.google.com/file/d/1B1S8GoEVYcCc-DTI5L2MnTmQQc4XkGw2/view?usp=sharing