2023:Program/Submissions/UNI - Bridge The Digital Divide - SJN8G7

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Title: UNI - Bridge The Digital Divide


Valentin Kravtchenko

Passionate about all things related to technology, Valentin Kravtchenko cumulates 7 years of experience in project management and more than a decade in communication - with a focus on new media and experimental technologies. Back in 2012, during an educational mission in West Africa, I was stuck in a slow and expensive cyber-coffee shop. How could my students do online research for their projects without an easy and fast access to the internet? A few years later, in a Bolivian mission with OXFAM, the same question arose. What about the communities located in remote areas, where internet and electricity access is unreliable? Is it possible to build a tool that promotes empowerment and autonomy on the field? Grey-box was created to address this social and technical issue. Valentin dedicates most of his time to Grey-box, a project that aims at providing access to educational resources to remote areas where Internet and electricity are unreliable (50% of the world lives offline according to UN Broadband Commission).

Pretalx link

Etherpad link


Start time:

End time:

Type: Lightning talk

Track: Equity, Inclusion, and Community Health

Submission state: submitted

Duration: 10 minutes

Do not record: false

Presentation language: en

Abstract & description[edit source]

Abstract[edit source]

The session will touch upon the digital divide and how the UNI device can help facilitate access to digital resources offline. UNI was designed to be low-cost and low-tech, ensuring that it was affordable and accessible for all.

Description[edit source]

We aim to help schoolchildren who are left behind in the digital divide, such as 10 year-old Ali Mara, who commutes to the Gbessia International Airport when the lights go out at home, as it’s the only place with free Wi-fi in his area. Ultimately, our impact will come in creating a world where everyone has access to the same tools and resources in order to empower themselves and their communities. Therefore, Grey-box wants to provide the means for young people to effortlessly access relevant digital resources and obtain digital skills and knowledge to create more opportunities for them in the future. This can be achieved through UNI. UNI is our portable hotspot that provides wireless access to pre-loaded digital resources such as Wikipedia and Khan Academy in areas where access to the Internet and electricity are unreliable.

Our objective is to build accessible digital tools that promote autonomy and empowerment within communities located in remote areas (where Internet access and electricity are unreliable). Please note: The other track for this project is technology.

Further details[edit source]

Qn. How does your session relate to the event themes: Diversity, Collaboration Future?

Our session on UNI relates to the event themes in several ways. Looking at UNI in how it relates to diversity, the project deals with access to information and equity. UNI focuses on people in areas with low connectivity. These people tend to be marginalized and not connected to the outside world. UNI helps be more diverse and equitable, allowing for those who don’t have access to become connected. UNI also is low cost and allows unlimited access for remote communities. Moreover, the content can be Wikipedia but can also be any other content that is selected by the community for the community. As such, there is a diverse range of content that can be installed on UNI. It’s important for us that we give organizations the flexibility and diversity to determine which content they would like to have on the device. In terms of Wikimania itself, UNI can help provide educational activities that require internet or have access to the internet. As for collaboration future, UNI is conducted through partnerships with local organizations. Each deployment of a device comes through an interested non-profit organization that wishes to have access to digital resources offline. As such, they have the ability to choose and update the content as they see fit. They are given the autonomy to upload whatever content they want. Moreover, we and the organization work together to determine the number of devices needed and part of the installation process. Overall, there are several ways that UNI relates to the event themes.

Qn. What is the experience level needed for the audience for your session?

Everyone can participate in this session

Qn. What is the most appropriate format for this session?

  • Empty Onsite in Singapore
  • Empty Remote online participation, livestreamed
  • Empty Remote from a satellite event
  • Empty Hybrid with some participants in Singapore and others dialing in remotely
  • Tick Pre-recorded and available on demand