Mozilla offers $ 2 million for an emergency Internet system

Mozilla and the US National Science Foundation announced a Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) contest with a prize pool of $ 2 million for the concept of an alternative Internet — a peer-to-peer network that does not depend on commercial providers.

Once the Internet was created as a scientific project for the exchange of information between laboratories and universities. But today it is not just a scientific tool. This is a resource of public importance, interference in the work of which is unacceptable. In the 21st century, the lack of access to the Internet will no longer be some kind of inconvenience, but will seriously worsen the quality of life. A person will not be able to communicate with friends and relatives, will lose access to education programs, online stores, and government services.

Although it is 2017 in the yard, but even in developed countries, a significant part of the population lives in an area where there is no high-quality Internet access. For example, in the USA such 34 million people or 10% of the country's population. And globally throughout the world, 4.4 billion people lack access to the Internet.

During natural disasters, people lose touch in a situation where they need it most. In order to connect regions without connection, Mozilla and the US National Science Foundation announced these two contests . Call for applications has already begun.

This might look like a peer-to-peer communication system node. Photo: Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Specifically, two contests have been announced.

Off-the-Grid Internet Challenge

After earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters and man-made disasters, the communications network is one of the most fragile elements of the infrastructure, which is facing extreme loads or fails. The purpose of this competition is to apply wireless technologies and a decentralized network design in order to provide people with communication even in such conditions when the central network has failed. So that people can communicate and have access to cartographic information.

The bidder must provide the hardware and software for the operation of the device. It should be portable, easily powered and affordable.

As an example, Mozilla cites a backpack that packs a computer with a hard drive, a battery, and a Wi-Fi router. The router provides surrounding Wi-Fi access to resources that are on a hard disk, such as geographical maps. The instant messaging server works the same way.

It should be added that such an emergency wireless communication system can also be useful in an apocalyptic scenario, if the authorities block access to the Internet for their citizens. This is not such a fantastic scenario: in some countries there have already been situations when the Internet was turned off throughout the country during elections. If citizens have an autonomous backup communication system, then we can at least exchange text messages. It's funny that such a situation, when the authorities turn off the Internet, can be compared with a natural disaster.

Smart Community Networks Challenge

The second competition is not intended to help victims of natural disasters, but to connect remote rural areas where there is no normal Internet access. Commercial providers consider it unprofitable to pull a channel there or offer too high rates. Competitors are offered to think about how to use the existing infrastructure to provide high-quality Internet for the residents of these areas.

As an example, Mozilla cites a wireless urban network in which nodes are located in abandoned telephone booths or use similar unused infrastructure.

Individuals and teams, commercial and non-profit organizations can take part in the competition. These can be employees of research institutes and universities, technological activists, entrepreneurs, or makers. Can participate citizens or permanent residents of the United States. All caring people are invited, for whom a healthy working Internet is the highest priority. Cash prizes are provided for both the early design concepts (from $ 10 thousand to $ 60 thousand), and for fully working prototypes (from $ 50 thousand to $ 400 thousand). Participants who successfully meet the criteria for early design concepts are invited to participate in the second stage of the competition.

Before you submit your work to the competition, you need to fill out a participant application form. The deadline for filling in the questionnaire is October 15, 2017. Works for the first stage of both competitions are accepted until November 15, 2017, for the second stage - on June 22, 2018. Prizes will be distributed until August 2018. Finalists will also be asked to conduct a live demonstration of their systems at a special event to be held next summer.


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