research laboratory

research laboratory

Grant 2014: Chiang-Rai MeshTV

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Chiang-Rai MeshTV: An Educational Video-on-Demand (E-VoD) System for a Rural Hill-Tribe Village via a Community Wireless Mesh Network (CWMN). The project is possible thanks to a collaboration between the Internet Education and Research Laboratory, Asian Institute of Technology, in collaboration with the Mirror Foundation and the THNIC Foundation, Thailand. Check their video blog at: http://www.interlab.ait.asia/ChiangRaiMeshTV Recognizing the potential of modern low-cost commodity ICT devices, we are motivated to improve the lives of rural villagers who reside in a remote hill-tribe community located in Chiang-Rai province, located in the northern part of Thailand. Many of these villagers earn below the nation's poverty threshold. They can hardly afford residential Internet access and, therefore, are among those who have the lowest ICT and Internet literacy in Thailand. We envision that a simple Educational Video-on-Demand (E-VoD) system which can stream or sent educational video contents to low-cost Wi-Fi tablet computers which are connected to a low-cost Community Wireless Mesh Network (CWMN) is a highly practical and minimalistic solution to get these villagers started with the ICT and modern networking technology. We shall refer to our proposed system as "Chaing-Rai MeshTV". Our volunteers will hand-select (and audio translate) from the Internet's vast publicly available resources, or locally create the educational video contents. These educational video contents should possess some preferred types of licenses: public-domain, creative commons, and specially negotiated or donated contents. The selected video contents which will be sent, via either offline (e.g. on SD memory cards) or online means (e.g. through a slow and unstable Internet link), to our E-VoD system which is to be implemented and installed in the rural hill-tribe village. Then the EVoD system will deliver or stream these selected educational video contents to the homes of tribal villagers via the CWMN serving as the community's intranet. The E-VoD and CMWN systems will require very minimal networking expertise to operate. The E-VoD system will be driven by a GUI-based Content Distribution System (CDS) designed to run on low-cost but proven hardware systems, such as Raspberry PI and other Linuxdriven computers. Each CWMN router consumes electricity worth less than one AUD per month. The only maintenance procedures each CWMN needs are just dust cleaning and occasional manual reboots. Our E-VoD CDS will also be mesh-aware -- taking some intrinsic advantages from the broadcast nature of CWMN and OLSR basic multicast plugin. We envision that the E-VoD contents can be chosen (or made) not only to immediately support villagers' life-long leaning process but also to strengthen their ICT and Internet literacy in parallel. When successfully implemented, "Chiang-Rai MeshTV" will serve as a practical prototype for rural E-VoD CWMN system in many underserved rural regions. Once deployed, the "Chiang-Rai MeshTV" system will be further maintained and operated by the staff and volunteers from the joint collaboration among IntERLab, the Mirror Foundation, and the THNIC Foundation.