CNX (Community Network Exchange) is a platform to explore alternate technologies for the internet and to move towards more decentralised and local solutions to global connectivity. This networking platform has been conducting annual conferences which were conducted in an offline set-up for the initial three years followed by an online format for the past three years.
Making use of the positive outcome of online discussions that witnessed more participation and fruitful outcomes, CNX-2022 has been planned to become Phygital – follow the online format of congregating the people but also showing the locally active networks and also holding community level meetings parallel and simultaneously with the online. The conventional offline conferences lean towards more “talking” while the offline mode allows the participants to have a better outlook on the practical aspects and challenges of the field.
Hence, this year’s discussions are designed to take the approach of “Walk the Talk” by exploring 10-12 community networks (CNs) across India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Nepal and Costa Rica. The discussions are spread across 5 meetings held on the 29th of each month from June to October, 2022. These explorations are organised by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Internet Society (ISOC) in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), APNIC Foundation, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Art & Collectives for Digital Empowerment (A-CODE), Action for Hope, Media and Information Literacy Expert Network (MILEN), Broadband India Forum (BIF), World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and of course several COPs (Communities of Practices).
Series I of CNX-2022 was held and broadcast live on 29th June presenting two case stories. These stories take us to two ends of the CN spectrum in India. One end serving the Burmese refugees in Manipur with no legal entitlements and few resources. And the other end enables local service providers in a backward district of Haryana who is struggling to gain access to the entitlements already set up by the government owing to lack of connectivity.
The panel included Duncan Macintosh, CEO of the APNIC Foundation; Shalini A from Janastu – a software NGO, and Servelots – an IT company that engages with local contexts for their research and development needs; Dr Sarbani Benerjee Belur, the Asia Regional Coordinator for Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Rajnesh Singh, Regional Vice President for the Asia-Pacific at the Internet Society. The discussion was moderated by Osama Manzar, Founder and Director of Digital empowerment Foundation.