PRESS RELEASE - New Tools Support Communities to Build Own Wireless Communications Infrastructure

2013-10-01 / Darby Hickey

WASHINGTON, DC — New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) today released the first round of its Commotion Construction Kit, a “do it ourselves” guide for building wireless communications infrastructure. The materials are part of the Commotion project, an open-source communications toolkit that uses mobile phones, computers, and other wireless devices to create decentralized mesh networks and share local services. “In an age of pervasive government surveillance and corporate data mining, the Commotion project is an essential resource for taking control of our communications and data,” saidJoshua Breitbart, Director of Field Operations at OTI. “With the guides we are publishing today, you do not have to be a techie or engineer to build a wireless network with your neighbors.” These documents come from the Commotion project’s effort to design tools and resources that facilitate participatory planning and development of community-controlled communications infrastructure. They are divided into five sections: Planning, Installating and Configurating, Networking, Building and Mounting, and Local Applications. Individuals or groups can use the materials for self-guided learning or to teach workshops or trainings. While some modules are Commotion-specific, many are useful for a variety of community-based technology or communications efforts. OTI developed and piloted the first Commotion Construction Kit elements in partnership with community-based training programs in Detroit and Brooklyn—the Digital Stewards training programs at Allied Media Projects and the Red Hook Initiative. The Work Department, also in Detroit, helped to design the visual language of the tools. Commotion’s first international training in Dharamshala, India provided the opportunity to expand the Commotion Construction Kit and evaluate it in collaboration with community technologists from around India and Nepal. The materials will be shared at the upcoming International Summit for Community Wireless Networks in Berlin, to contribute to the global movement for community-controlled communications and technology. Like the Commotion software, these materials are open source, which means development on them continues and community involvement is critical. This first wave of modules represents a work in progress. OTI welcomes all feedback on these materials and will collaboratively expand and update them. View and download the Commotion Construction Kit on the Commotion website.