Internet for All (IFA)

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Before we get into what is IFA, it makes sense to try to understand how is it different from the Internet of Things (IoT, sometimes Internet of Everything). IoT is the network of a gamut of devices or “things” that we may use on a daily basis, and are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure.

Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020. Experts, albeit in a different field, also predict that the world population will be touching almost 8 billion by 2020. The sad truth, however, about this is that as per reports from Internet World Stats, 60% of the population still does not have access to Internet.

This is where the concept, and need, of IFA arises. We all know that Internet provides us opportunities for growth – it is time we spread the word, and also make it more accessible to those who have not yet joined this journey of knowledge and growth. With the United Nations proposing that Internet access be a Global Human Right, and all the hulla around net neutrality and open access, the scope for making IFA is virtually limitless.

It’s time to envision a life where everyone around the globe can access the Internet and increase the knowledge about the world we live in. Why should only 40% of us enjoy being connected with everyone we want to via all forms of media available on the Internet, while 60% do not even know how to reach out to someone for help in case of emergencies – or just for sharing some good news with someone who is not around? Of course, this makes IFA even more needed.

Thankfully, some global leaders have taken the initiative around the whole issue, and are trying their bit to reduce the huge gap and disparity between the people who use Internet daily – and those who have no access to the same. Under the guidance of Global bodies as UNICEF, UNESCO, CEE, and SAYEN, and the patronage of companies who want to make a difference, technology institutes are well on the way to bridge this unfathomable gap, even if in a small way.

Volunteers from these institutes, both trained and novices, are identifying and visiting villages and areas that are remote, and spreading the basic knowledge as to how to use the Internet for gaining knowledge (accessing NCERT/Khan academy portals), performing activities such as buying train tickets online – for which they otherwise need to travel miles, stay connected with the world (online News) and with each other (introduction to messaging/calling services), online shopping for women – and of course – some gaming for the kids.

Add to these activities some exhibitions around the themes of science and technology, quiz sessions, some hands on sessions for the excited crowds, Internet sessions, videos and pictures of the people who participate online, and not to forget some token digital gifts – and you are sure to create an interest in internet that won’t wane away for a long, long, time to come.

Can you imagine the innocent, excited, awed, big smiles and the shine of a new found hope in the eyes of these villagers? I sure can.

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