i4d Award 2007 – i4d – September 07, 2008

Meshed up village of Mahawilachchiya
Meshed up village of Mahawilachchiya
Meshed up village of Mahawilachchiya

Nominated By:
Implementor

Implementer Name:EnterpriseTechnologyPvtLtd

State: Western

Address: 65 Braybrooke Place

Pin: 2

City: Colombo

State: Western

Country:SriLanka

Contact Detail: Rehana Wijesinghe

email: rehanaw@enterprisetl.com

Funded By: Information and Communication Agency of Sri Lanka Pan Asia R&D Grants Program

Short Description:
MAHAVILACHCHIYA WAS THE FIRST RURAL VILLAGE IN SRI LANKA TO RECEIVE A FREE WIRELESS MESH NETWORK, CONNECTING 28 HOMES AND 2 PUBLIC SCHOOLS REACHING A TOTAL OF 1000 STUDENTS. ENTERPRISE TECHNOLOGY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR IMPLEMENTING THIS PROJECT AND PROVIDED TRAINING AND SUPPORT AS A VALUE ADDED SERVICE. THIS PROJECT USED A MODERN COMMUNICATION BACKBONE PROVIDING CONNECTIVITY TO ALL SEGMENTS OF THE RURAL COMMUNITY OF MAHAVILACHCHIYA. IT WAS SUPPORTED BY THE HORIZON LANKA INSTITUTE, A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION SITUATED IN MAHAVILACHCHIYA THAT PROVIDES EDUCATION INCLUDING ENGLISH, SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, COMPUTER SCIENCE AND GRAPHICS TO ABOUT 400 VILLAGE KIDS. THIS SCHOOL IS EXCEPTIONAL BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RECEIVE AID FROM FOREIGN DONORS TO PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH COMPUTERS TO THEIR HOMES. THESE CHILDREN HAVE ZEAL TO LEARN ABOUT COMPUTERS AND HAVE DEVELOPED WEBSITES AFTER STUDYING GRAPHICS AND WEB DESIGN. THE NETWORK HAS BEEN RUNNING SUCCESSFULLY FOR OVER 9 MONTHS NOW AND THE INTEREST IN INTERNET AMONG THE STUDENTS HAVE INCREASED IMMENSELY AS THEY HAVE STARTED TO USE THE INTERNET FOR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS AND TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER AND THEIR SCHOOL. THE CHILDREN WERE EXCITED BEYOND MEASURE AND USE THE INTERNET CONTINUOUSLY FOR THEIR HOMEWORK RESEARCH AND CHAT. THE STUDENT’S PARENTS HAVE STARTED TO SEE THE INTERNET AS A MEANS TO GET AHEAD AND HAVE STARTED TO ENCOURAGE THEIR CHILDREN TO STUDY IT. THE FARMING COMMUNITIES HAS SEEN THE BENEFIT OF CHECKING WEATHER REPORTS ONLINE AND ARE NOW ABLE TO SEARCH FOR MORE ADVANCED METHODS OF FARMING.

Short Bios:
JANESH PATHIRAJA – TEAM LEADER. JANESH RECEIVED HIS BATCHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN COMPUTER ENGINEERING FROM UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, CANADA. HE IS A CISCO CERTIFIED NETWORK ASSOCIATE (CCNA), AND SUN CERTIFIED SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR (SCSA). IN ADDITION TO HIS PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS HE HAS ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE IN DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF ROUTING & SWITCHING NETWORKS, OPTICAL FIBER NETWORKS AND SUN ENTERPRISE SYSTEMS. VIRANGA JAYARATNE – NETWORK SYSTEMS ENGINEER. VIRANGA OBTAINED HIS BACHELORS’ DEGREE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FROM UNIVERSITY OF MORATUWA, SRI LANKA. VIRANGA HOLDS THE CISCO CERTIFIED NETWORK ASSOCIATE (CCNA) AND IS A CISCO QUALIFIED SPECIALIST IN WIRELESS NETWORKING (CWLSS). HE HAS KNOWLEDGE IN DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING INDOOR/OUTDOOR WIRELESS LANS IN IEEE 802.11A/B/G STANDARDS INCLUDING LARGE SCALE WLAN HOTSPOT DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING WIRELESS SECURITY FOR ANY ORGANIZATION.

Poject Purpose:
MAHAVILACHCHIYA IS A RURAL TOWN IN SRI LANKA THAT IS SURROUNDED BY THICK JUNGLE. COMMUNICATION WITHIN THE VILLAGE WAS LIMITED AS THERE WAS NO CELLULAR COVERAGE AND FEW TELEPHONE LINES. MAHAVILACHCHIYA IS EXCEPTIONAL AS IT ALREADY HAS A COMPUTER CENTER THAT HAS REACHED OVER 400 STUDENTS IN THE AREA AND ENABLED THEM TO BE IT KNOWLEDGEABLE. THE HORIZON LANKA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND CREATIVE ARTS IS A NON PROFIT ORGANISATION SITUATED IN MAHAVILACHCHIYA. THE FOUNDER OF THIS INSTITUTE HAS PROVIDED COMPUTERS TO 30 STUDENTS HOMES, HOWEVER NONE HAD INTERNET ACCESS. THIS PROJECT AIMED AT PROVIDING A FREE COMMUNITY MESH NETWORK TO CONNECT ALL 30 HOUSEHOLDS. THE FOLLOWING WERE THE OBJECTIVES: PROMOTING THE USE OF COMPUTERS IN SCHOOL AND IN TRAINING, FACILITATING THE SEARCH FOR EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES, COMMUNITY CHAT, DISSEMINATION OF HEALTH AND EDUCATIONALLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION, SPREADING INFORMATION ON HOW TO FACE CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS.

Challenges You Faced:
ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARRIERS FACED WAS RECEIVING APPROVAL FOR FREQUENCY LICENCES FROM THE TELECOMMUNICATION AND REGULATORY COMMISSION OF SRI LANKA (TRC) AND IMPORT CLEARANCE FROM THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE. THIS TOOK MUCH LONGER THAN WE EXPECTED AND CAUSED A MAJOR DELAY IN THE START OF IMPLEMENTATION. CHANGES IN DESIGN AROSE AS SOME OF THE RECIPIENT HOUSEHOLDS HAD CHANGED LOCATION AND THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT WAS ALTERED TO REACH HOMES OUTSIDE THE IDENTIFIED SUBNETS. IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE TO THIS CHANGE THE NEW DESIGN WOULD REQUIRE 7 NODES, 6 TOWERS AND EXPENSIVE ANTENNAS TO REACH THE FAR DISTANCES THROUGH THE JUNGLE TERRAIN. THE DESIGN OF THE NETWORK CHANGED TO REACH 28 STUDENTS HOMES OUTSIDE THE ORIGINAL COVERAGE AREA AND WE WERE ABLE TO CONNECT TWO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, INCREASING INTENDED CLIENTS TO OVER 1000.