ICT Toolsets Announces Winners of 2003 Grant Competition

In the fall of 2003, the ICT Toolsets project accepted submissions in response to an international request for proposals (RFP). More than 230 proposals were received from 44 countries.

During October and November of 2003, the Toolsets initiative worked with a group of external evaluators to select proposals that met and often exceeded the RFP's criteria. The RFP aimed to support projects with a global impact which would advance the goals of the Open Society Institute’s belief in promoting open societies. Many projects that the Information Program were unable to support had great merit, but did not specifically conform to the necessarily narrow criteria.

During the second week of December 2003, all applicants whose projects would not be funded were notified.

Although OSI is only able to support five projects directly out of the 2003 RFP, ICT Toolsets has started to work in other ways with many other groups involved in the application process. The Information Program will continue to promote collaboration between open source developers globally, and to support toolsets development for the civil society sector.

Jonathan Peizer, Janet Haven, and others involved with the grant process would like to thank all who took the time to apply. The five funded projects are listed below.

2003 ICT Toolsets Request for Proposals: Funded Projects

Project name: LiveSupport
Organization: MDLF/CAMP (mdlf-camp.net)
Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Project Description:
LiveSupport will be an open source radio automation system that will allow stations to manage their daily broadcasts through an intuitive, end-user-centered multi-lingual interface. LiveSupport will be accessible over the Internet, allowing for remote management of on-air radio broadcast.

As a studio tool, LiveSupport will take care of all fundamental broadcast operations and needs, such as playlist management, scheduling, accurate transmission logs, support for a range of audio formats, and seamless inclusion of Internet audio streams into on-air programming.

As a remote broadcast management tool, LiveSupport will take full advantage of the Internet by allowing users to manage files stored locally or in the LAN, the WAN, over WiFi connections or satellite uplinks. It will also be able to play files from a central server over a satellite TCP/IP connection. Anything that LiveSupport can reach in a network environment can be scheduled and played or shared with other LiveSupport systems. As such, LiveSupport could become invaluable in the developing world.

LiveSupport aims not only to become an open source project that will match the functionality available in the most widespread commercial radio automation tools, but also to revolutionize the concept of TCP/IP based audio distribution.

Project name: Community Wireless Networking, Phase III
Organization: Urbana-Champaign IndyMedia Center (wireless.cu.groogroo.com/index.html)
Location: Urbana, Illinois (USA)

Project Description:
The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CWN) is building and implementing a mesh-style community wireless network that allows anyone within range of the Network to receive Internet access, free from monthly fees, using off-the-shelf wireless hardware. CWN’s software is open-source (under the GPL license) and open-architecture.

Over the past three years, the Community Wireless Network has gone through three distinct phases of development: Phase I—initial research and experimentation; Phase II—initial software development and prototype network rollout; and Phase III—software refinement and scalable network implementation (the current phase).

The software consists of a "mesh" routing daemon, an innovative "ad hoc" name service, a user interface, software for high-reliability, and on-line software upgrades. CWN’s routing daemon will be a major innovation in the open-source "mesh" world. It will be the first open-source implementation of Hazy Sighted Link State (HSLS) routing. HSLS enables exceptional scalability in the wireless environment, and yet it has an uncomplicated implementation.

CWN’s grant from OSI will allow the organization to complete a scalable prototype in Urbana, Illinois. Once tested there, CWN will form partnerships with two to three wireless groups in the South for prototype implementations of the mesh in a developing world setting.

Project name: Project Planning for a Clinical/Patient Management Application
Organization: Ninth Bridge, a project on Engender Health (www.engenderhealth.org)
Location: International

Project Description:
OSI’s grant to Ninth Bridge will fund a planning project toward the development of an open source clinical/patient tracking application to meet the needs of health care providers caring for HIV/AIDS patients across the developing world.

Currently, large numbers of front line care providers in this sector are without basic patient tracking/management capabilities. Considering the staggering burdens under which these typically under-resourced providers work, this lack of basic patient data management capabilities is a further drain on their efficiency and effectiveness. These management practices also severely curtail any ability to collect and use data for information sharing, trends analysis, and advocacy and policy-making purposes. Commercial and some open source solutions exist, but these have been developed primarily for U.S. markets, and are overly directed at insurance reporting and billing processes that are not appropriate for the developing world.

Ninth Bridge will undertake to thoroughly assess, in collaboration with the community of intended users—focusing on sub-Saharan Africa—the range of tools currently available, as well as the unmet needs and opportunities in the area of clinical patient management. The final report will not only provide a comprehensive list of existing tools, but will define the application requirements and functionality primarily through engagement with front line health workers and their supporters in HIV/AIDS affected areas.

Project name: PeerMaster and NetFlow
Organization: Packet Clearing House (www.pch.net)
Location: San Francisco, California (USA)

Project Description:
OSI is supporting Packet Clearing House in the development of open-source software tools which assist Internet service providers (ISPs) in optimizing the routing of their traffic, reducing the cost and increasing the performance of Internet service as delivered to the public.

The "PeerMaster" toolset functions as a kind of "matchmaking service" for ISPs, allowing the individuals within each ISP who are responsible for negotiating network interconnections to find each other quickly and easily, and facilitating the interconnection transaction. The NetFlow analysis portion of the toolset goes one step further, analyzing ISPs' traffic flow and prioritizing the other ISPs, other countries, and other regions with which the ISP has the greatest degree of mutual

traffic, allowing them to make better-informed network interconnection choices. Lack of an open-source toolset has previously made these functions unavailable to all but the four or five largest international carriers, and it is our hope that this toolset will begin to extend the same operational efficiencies and economies to the parts of the Internet which can most benefit from them.

In addition to software development, OSI's grant will allow PCH to do outreach and training, to ensure that these open-source tools reach the engineers and analysts who will best be able to employ them in reducing the cost of Internet service in developing regions.

Project name: Legal Aid Center Case Management Tool
Organization: Internet Rights Bulgaria Foundation (socialrights.org/spip/rubrique1.html)
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Project Description:
The Internet Rights Bulgaria Foundation (IBRF) will build an open source software solution for the case management needs of non-profit legal advice centers in Bulgaria. This will provide an alternative to restrictive proprietary software at present being used for this purpose. The project will also create the conditions for civil society organizations in Bulgaria to cooperate with each other and with similar organizations elsewhere through better communication and increased Internet visibility.

IBRF will also work with the Open Society Institute-Sofia on creating a version of the software to be used in the Bulgarian public defender’s office. Further, the software will be integrated into a Bulgarian Linux distribution by Interspace, a Bulgarian technology/media organization, which will also assist with the training and installation of the distribution and accompanying software at legal aid centers.

Project name: Open Telephone
Organization: CSIR Information Society Technologies Centre
Location: South Africa

Project Description:
The Open Society Institute is supporting the CSIR Information Society Technologies Centre (ISTC) in collaboration with HIVAN to develop applications, language resources, and a supporting technology platform (OpenPhone) that will allow people to develop and provide multilingual telephone information services easily and affordably. The application domain will be that of HIV/AIDS knowledge and information empowerment.