Inspiration

The Web today is not relevant to the majority of the non-English speaking users globally as well as the illiterate and digitally unskilled. Enabling the creation of locally relevant content in local languages and making them easily accessible within communities solves the relevance problem. With connectivity gaining ground in several communities in emerging markets, large swathes of communities especially in rural areas are still not able to get vital healthcare information especially in the current COVID-19 scenario. This can be solved by empowering communities to create and access locally relevant content within their own communities in their own languages. Organisations (e.g. healthcare, government, NGOs etc) working with these communities can then disseminate critical and potentially life saving healthcare information to these communities.

What it does

We will showcase the concept of Hyperlocal Web - a set of highly localised mobile web ecosystems that can be rapidly instantiated to empower users in the community to create and interact with relevant local content, enable meaningful community interactions and support promotion of local businesses and services without needing to access the World Wide Web. This would be demonstrated by utilising the GAIUS platform (www.gaiusnetworks.com) - a decentralised hyper-local content ad platform that serves highly localised content from the edge within rural communities empowering communities to create, interact and monetise local content relevant to their communities in their own languages. GAIUS removes the dependency of communities to access the World Wide Web by empowering communities to create their own hyper-local content and ecosystems in a sustainable way and at the same time in an extremely lightweight and super-fast manner. Organisations (e.g. healthcare, government, NGOs etc) working with these communities can then disseminate critical and potentially life saving healthcare information to these communities using the platform.

How I built it

We are a small team but with a combined 30+ years of experience working on Internet access projects across 25+ countries in emerging markets. Our vision was to solve the Internet relevance problem across the next three billion users. We did this by developing a technology stack that has a decentralised content ad exchange & content curation and diffusion engines that can reside inside communities and empower users in communities to create, interact and transact with relevant local content. The platform is scalable supporting communities of any size (small rural community to nationwide). The entire platform was built utilising open source tech: apache, mysql, python & android. We currently have deployments across India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Botswana (all using Microsoft Azure - In Kenya its via Liquid Telecom's Azure), Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We are also currently collaborating with Facebook Connectivity's Terragraph to carry out edge deployments utilising the Multiaccess Edge Computing (MEC) capabilities within rural communities.

Challenges I ran into

The biggest challenge we faced as a team was our resources (personnel due to limited funding) were extremely limited. The vision for GAIUS is huge and with a very small team we have worked hard to develop the platform over a period of 18 months.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Our platform is currently being used in several communities across India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana empowering more than 100,000+ users to create and interact with relevant local content. This is a significant achievement considering our very small team and limited funding. We are also collaborating with Facebook's Terragraph team to enable Hyperlocal Web ecosystems within rural communities at the edge.

What I learned

To connect the next three billion users to the Internet, we need highly localised community driven solutions that take into consideration the user needs. The GAIUS platform was created with this in mind to create a highly scalable community centered platform that caters to community needs making content more relevant and accessible.

What's next for Hyperlocal Web for Rural Healthcare

We are keen to make a positive contribution towards the COVID-19 problem. We are keen to work with health organisations on the ground to launch GAIUS instances into communities and empower these organisations to disseminate critical and potentially life saving healthcare information to these communities using the platform.

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