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clearAlthough WorldSpace Foundation is still in the initial phases of its expansion into Asia and the Pacific,we have already had several important successes in the region.

DOT Force Demonstration Project

The foundation has just recently completed its first demonstration project in Asia. The project was conducted in southern India in partnership with OneWorld UK and M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, as part of the G-8 DOT Force initiative, a global initiative by G-8 member countries to develop a coordinated approach for the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to social development, in conjunction with other G8 initiatives such as the Genoa Plan for Africa and the Education Task Force. The DOT Force also works with other digital divide initiatives such as the United Nations ICT Task Force.

The DOT Force initiative has been divided into nine action points for implementation. The WSF demonstration project was designed to show the foundation's capacity to accomplish the eighth action point of the implementation plan, which falls under the heading of "Local Content and Applications." Successful demonstration projects will be presented to the general assembly of the G8 in June 2002 for ratification before expanding into a global project.

The project was conducted in Pondicherry, India in February 2002. WSF placed satellite downlink equipment, trained OneWorld UK staff on content formatting requirements for uplink to the satellite, and provided technical support. The project demonstrated WSF's capability to cost-effectively provide access to web-based material to communities in remote locations via satellite. It also demonstrated that by using the new XML format, it is possible to filter community specific content in several different languages to bring the most relevant information directly to the people that need it most.

South Asia Foundation Rural Learning Centers

In 2001, WSF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Asia Foundation (SAF) to begin a major development initiative in rural communities in the SAARC region. South Asia Foundation is a secular, nonprofit and non-political youth movement of regional cooperation among the SAARC countries. Founded by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, SAF has seven trustees who are currently the chairs of the Rainbow Partnership from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The proposed project with South Asia Foundation will involve 500 communities throughout the seven SAARC countries. In all of these locations, SAF will build solar-powered community information centers, which WSF will equip with satellite receivers and multimedia adapters, so that each center will have access to educational information from their region produced by SAF, as well as WSF's social development and education programs from around the world. The project is currently in the pilot phase with test transmissions being carried out between the WSF Multi-Media Service and simputers.

RANET

WorldSpace Foundation has leveraged the success of the RANET project in Africa to gain support for a similar service - which includes early warning systems and agricultural forecasts - in Asia and the Pacific. RANET is an international initiative that makes climate and weather-related information more accessible to rural communities and the general public in Africa. It accomplishes this goal through the use of radio and the Internet to improve the access of rural extension and meteorological agencies to climate information, and uses the WSF Multi-Media Service to deliver satellite imagery, charts, and other data to communities where Internet access is unavailable. RANET will expand its meteorological services to all of Asia and the Pacific by May 2002, when WSF's Asia Multimedia Service becomes operational.

Outreach Activities

Also, in 2002, WorldSpace Foundation will begin its outreach activities to potential partner organizations in the region. WSF is working in partnership with the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) to develop a survey to create a database of social development and educational content producers for radio and multimedia broadcast in Asia and the Pacific. Specific target countries in this project include India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

 


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