Toward Transparency : Sharing Digital Divide Technology Thoughts and Plans

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 14:37.

Thought I'd think out loud some more as I start to design outreach, configuration, and training plans along the lines of our East Cleveland Digital Divide efforts. Transparency, Authenticity, and Accountability are such key principles - let's see if we can demonstrate these as I reason through recent strategic planning efforts...

Reviewing and Outlining a meaningful revamp of Digital Divide efforts

Here is an overview of strategies we at REALNEO have reasoned through - keep in mind much of this is coming from my perspective and opinion and is thus subject to change.

I. Infrastructure

To bridge the Digital Divide accurately and comprehensively, we need to maximize ubiquitous internet accessibility to the community in question. This speaks to a WiFi cloud that covers the population of East Cleveland - preferably highest density first. Currently the game plan accounts for establishment of a significant signal from the East Cleveland Tudor home of Norm Roulet at 1894 Roxbury, now under reconstruction. The vision would be to install and deploy the Mesh-in-a-Box equipment originally procured from Illinois -Urbana from this or another accessible-to-the-masses location.

A wireless service provider (ISP) needs to be identified and involved with certainty.

II. Accessibility

Though the internet can be accessible from a variety of land lines, like cable modem and DSL services as well at T1 lines, we want a WiFi cloud so that any East Clevelander witha laptop computer could pop it open and enjoy free or extremely affordable access. This speaks to the value of a contained portal which can cultivate advertising revenue and promote East Cleveland business and nonprofits alike.

As for hardware, we need to secure as much equipment as we can : laptops, keyboards, mice, desktops, monitors, printers, and scanners - to assemble useful packages to be distributed yet again to enterprising East Clevelanders and derive new opportunity and value. I am personally working to assemble an effort to revitalize this form of 'technological recycling'.

III. Support and Training

The distributed packages need to be installed and configured with latest and greatest FOSS (Free Open Source Software) technology - more than likely Edubuntu (for kiddies) and Ebuntu or Kubuntu as the operating system - depending on target audience would be installed on every machine. The CMS (Content Management System) would be Drupal - the very same Drupal that was used to create REALNEO). Use of the new system is not completely intuitive so we will need to provide supplement instructional guides and tip sheets to the masses we ultimately deliver systems to.

Training coursework could be a nice synergistic service, as would repair and consulting services. Whether these are provided in partnership with folks like Bill Callahan of Digital Vision and facilities like the YMCA, which has already indicated availability of training space, or singularly from the Hough Bakery location to start, remains to be determined.

And finally some early wins and efforts to make note of :


a. Individuals like Pat Blochowiak and David Reed have already pledged in-kind donations of equipment. Others, please feel free to post your pledges here!

b. Educational Organizations like my alma mater Case Western were fantastic in coming with donations of monitors in the past and they and other schools will be approached once more for their assistance. We have 25 regional universities and countless other institutions to reach to for recyclable equipment. NOCHE (The Northeast Ohio Council of Higher Education) might be a great inroad to explore along these lines.

c. Government entities on City, County, State, and Federal levels will be appealed to as well for what they can provide.

d. Nonprofits will be approached for their potential contributions as well. These

positive organizations typically come with much heart and it will be needed.

e. For Profit entities will be approached for how they can help. We already have

some hot lucrative leads with Starbucks and a strong potential pledge opportunity was

just offered by AMS Services. Details forthcoming!

I have named the outreach effort The Way of the Cross - picture the cross formed by connecting b through e above. At the center of the cross would be an 'S' symbolizing the various spiritual centers that could drive all of this forward and help connect all of the above with a universal thread of spirituality and spirit.

The cross is also set within a diamond, that is formed when we connect the cross ends - and this represents the Cross Sectional , Cross Functional approach we are taking in making - you guessed it - our holistic approach.

More to come.    Peace!

A Universe of Stars

Good overview Sudhir. I don't quite get the cross ref. but to each... I see each node of this as a star and the key is building a galaxy of stars that light the way for all. The WiFi mesh will start by radiating from my house on Roxbury and houses of my neighbors, like Pat. At the same time, on the other side of Euclid, a constellation will form with Greg Williams, Councilwoman Thomas and the Star Complex... we will seek to connect these and other stars into one mesh as fast as possible. The operations center will be the Star Complex, where we will have lots of Bandwidth, a cybercafe and medialab and community technology center. ASAP we will activate other WiFi stars around East Cleveland - they will all mesh with FOSS WiFiDOG through a contained portal leveraging CUWiNware, Drupal and other FOSS Web 2 and 3 applications over time. Lots more on all that on REALNEO here. A bit on the related politics and economics of community broadband here.

As you mention, all people can help bridge the digital divide. While most of the work and funding will come from the people of East Cleveland, who shall benefit, donations of all types will be valued - equipment, time, facilities, expertise, funds, and good cheer will all be needed to make this initiative as revolutionary as it may be. Much more on this will develop over the coming months and anyone interested to lend a hand should feel free to post their thoughts here or send me or Sudhir an email.

Disrupt IT

Abstraction abdicated

Let's try to elucidate the elusive and concretize the abstraction represented by my cross system above - start by drawing a Cross.




1.  Write down GOV to represent government entitites at the top of the cross

2   Write down EDU (Educational Institutions) directly below it at the cross bottom

3.  Write down NPO (Nonprofit) and FPO (For Profit)

                 on at the right and left ends of the cross

4.  Write S at the Center of the cross (Spirit, Spirituality)



So we have both a literal cross and and abstract one.  The connections between GOV and EDU and NPO and FPO are already present.  These represent important public-private partnerships between organizations categorized by these three-letter labels.



Now connect the Cross ends (tips) to form a Diamond (or Star).  These lines represent

the intersections between GOV and NPO,  NPO and EDU, EDU and FPO, and FPO and GOV

respectively (and the organizations represented therein).  We would surmise that the

goal would be synergistic (1+1 > 2) as well as strategic (win-win via mitigation of risk

and cost through complementary asset fulfillment).


We are symbolizing the importance of cross-functional and cross sectional interactions and synergies with Five Specific Nodes.  This approach works to create a holistic symbol for holistic , sustainable, and synergistic community development and transformation.