Computer Aid Connect: taking the internet to remote areas

Computer Aid is aiming to bring offline access to educational websites to areas with limited internet access. Right now, it’s turning recycled Raspberry Pi boards into portable internet hotspots.

“It’s for offline students and teachers across the world,” said Nicola Gampell, E-Learning and Marketing Officer for Computer Aid International.

As a result, Connect will “bring them a local internet full of educational resources, ranging from scientific simulations to Wikipedia articles,” Nicola told us.

Computer Aid: recycling Raspberry Pis into remote routers

Inside the Connect is software based on RACHEL-Pi by World Possible.

“All too often we’re reminded of this reality,” wrote Jeremy Schwartz, Executive Director of World Possible. “There are places where young people aren’t given the resources they need to learn. For many, the internet has become a small equalising force, but for more, that equaliser does not exist.”

“In 2017, we’re going to test RACHEL against as many different use cases as we can,” said Jeremy. “We’ll be formalising our own testing through our social entrepreneurs, and intimately supporting a narrower group of other organisations”.

As a result, Computer Aid “currently has twenty units about to arrive at a project in Ethiopia and one in Mauritania,” said Nicola. “So hopefully we’ll be getting to see it in action soon.”

Computer Aid Connect

The Computer Aid Connect turns a Raspberry Pi into a router pre-packed with many websites

“The Raspberry Pi is a key component of the device, especially due to its low power usage and low cost,” said Nicola.

Also inside is a “UPS PIco Uninterruptible Power Supply,” said Nicola. As a result, Connect is “sustainable and stable during power outages.”

The Raspberry Pi is placed alongside a 64GB SD card and a Wireless N150 High-Power USB Adapter.

“The version of the Raspberry Pi changes between the Model 2 and the old A,” she explains. After all, “we receive donations of old Raspberry Pi devices.”

Visit the Computer Aid website if you’d like to donate a Raspberry Pi board to the project.


John-Paul avatar

Just skimmed the article, but what is a recycled RPi?

Jeff Findley avatar

From the article: “we receive donations of old Raspberry Pi devices.”

Liz Upton avatar

This charity is using people’s old Raspberry Pis to set up these networks in the developing world. There’s a link at the end showing you where you can donate.

(I’m always a bit shocked at those people who do have the time to comment, but don’t have time – or inclination – to read a short article, especially when it’s about something as impactful as what Lucy’s written about here.)

Darkenvy avatar

Where is the internet coming from to begin with? I see there is a wifi antenna for broadcast… So I’m guessing the internet is provided via 2/3G?

Liz Upton avatar

It’s a local network: it’s not the whole internet, but a locally hosted set of resources like all of Wikipedia, Khan Academy, a lot of literature, medical and other textbooks, training materials, educational resources etc. – all of which can be tailored to the community it’s going into; and of course it means everybody in the community can now connect to everybody else. Follow the link to RACHEL-pi in the article to learn more.

Kent avatar

Ooh good one. Now I know where to ship my old Pi’s instead of the ol’ dust bin.

Barry avatar

Great initiative, like the idea even more for localized resources, could be applied to many different community projects.

Winkleink avatar

Philip Colligan mentioned RACHEL Pi at 5 minutes in this interview.

He describes it as the useful 3% of the Internet.
Khan Academy
and other sources of knowledge…

Mike Redrobe avatar

We all need an offline wikpedia (RACHEL Pi) – ready for the zombie apocalypse !

Amit Samra avatar

Great! This is really a good and amazing device.

Lars avatar

That sounds great! In our western world we can’t imagine a world without internet anymore and in schools it’s already standard for learning. It’s about time that people in remote areas can get at least a glimpse at it as well. One day they can might use it as a learning resource as well.

Pete Stevens avatar

We think this is one the best projects in the world. That’s why Mythic Beasts donated them all the bandwidth for people setting up RachelPi servers.

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