Mumbai-based ‘Gram Marg Solution’ project among Semifinalists in the global competition
March 16, 2017:
Last week, Mozilla, the non-profit organisation behind open source browser Firefox, gathered semifinalists and judges from its ongoing ‘Equal Rating Innovation Challenge’, along with industry leaders, NGOs and other international stakeholders, for a day-long event dedicated to Equal Rating and discussions on the current state of global affordable Internet access. The conference culminated in the “Demo Day” with the 5 semifinalists from India, South Africa, Brazil and Canada pitching their innovative solutions, for winning the coveted challenge and prize monies amounting to USD 250,000.
After welcome and introductory notes by Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, Gary Fowlie, Head of the International Telecommunication Union’s Liaison Office to the United Nations, outlined the enabling role of information communication technologies can play in progressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He also highlighted how partnerships and projects on digital inclusion like the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge are critical to improving education worldwide.
This was followed by keynote speeches and panel discussions from sector experts who emphasized on importance of digital literacy and policy framework to support easy access and choice of content to all parts of the world.
As part of the Demo Day, all 5 semifinalists pitched their solutions to the judges and audience. After having received 6 weeks of expert mentorship to further shape their submitted concepts, each team shared their respective vision for a connected future. At the end of each presentation, the judges had 10 minutes of Q&A where they pressed the semifinalists on issues such as scalability and business sustainability.
The Indian project, “Gram Marg Solution for Rural Broadband” was presented by Senior Project Research Scientist, Dr Sarbani Banerjee Belur. The Mumbai-based team, led by Prof. Abhay Karandikar, has successfully developed an open source low-cost prototype to provide affordable broadband access to the Internet in rural communities utilizing Television White Space Spectrum.
The judges are currently evaluating the semifinalist presentations. In addition to this, Mozilla would like to invite the public to watch the semifinalists’ pitches on its website, www.equalrating.com, and to vote for the strongest solution. Voting is open till 16 March 23:59 GMT. The results of the community voting will be tallied and shared with the judges. The judges will consider this data along with the scoring matrix making their final decision.
The total prize money for the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge is funding of USD 250,000, divided into the following categories:
- Best Overall (with a key focus on scalability): USD125,000
- Best Overall Runner-up: USD75,000
- Most Novel Solution: USD30,000
The winners will be announced at RightsCon Brussels on 29 March 2017.
The following link is a mini-documentary of the Indian semifinalist team’s project:
Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: Semifinalist “Gram Marg”
Please follow the below link to watch the Mumbai-based team pitch at “Demo Day” in New York:
Equal Rating Innovation Challenge Demo Day – Gram Marg Solution for Rural Broadband
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