Around 65.6 million people, the largest number since the Second World War – are presently living as refugees or as displaced populations inside their own countries; this includes 10.3 million people who were uprooted from their homes in 2016 and need to empower, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
They often lack the basic means of survival like food, safety, sanitary, communication, etc., and struggling to meet two ends of life.
The displacement often disconnects refugees from their loved ones and can leave them isolated. The lack of an affordable connection ultimately impacts their mental well-being, community relations and the possibility of future success.
Images credit: Empower
In this situation, the Internet and mobile communications along with social media could help refugees to connect their friends, family, and colleagues, that give them some relief from the hardships.
To address the connectivity of refugees with the digital world, the four students – Joseph Truong, Vasiliki Belegrinis, Amal Naufer, and Akash Sidhu from the Schulick School of Business, York University initiated a social enterprise ‘Empower’.
Images credit: Empower
Empower aims to provide connectivity to 10 million refugees living in even the most remote locations by 2022; help them improving the basic needs and break the cycle of poverty!
Empower uses the Flexifinity’s technology solution ‘HITCH’, an enhanced smart wireless mesh router that enables communities automatically build, operate and sustain self-contained Internet platforms. It makes connectivity more affordable and available for those who need it most.
How EmpowerNet works?
It’s an innovative web-app that optimizes affordable access to the internet, ultimately closing the access gap for refugee communities.
It works on the HITCH platform, that browses the Internet or communicates a local cache for high-definition video streaming on-demand. Each hotspot can store 1 TB of video content, which is equivalent to 1,000 hours of video or 17,000 hours of audio content.
According to the Flexifinity, its Wi-Fi router with embedded storage, processing, and solar/battery capacity along with its software service connects to other HITCH routers.
The HITCH forms local decentralized cloud platforms for storing, sharing, and updating Internet Content, Services, and applications. The user needs to turn on HITCH smart Wi-Fi hotspot and service is automatically enabled.
It enables users to access videos, talk or chat with each other with or without Internet connectivity. It doesn’t require a use of a Third-Party app store, and runs on any browser on a Wi-Fi enabled device.
Empower is also the global finalists in the world’s largest social entrepreneurship competition, the 2017 Hult Prize challenge that addresses the global issue with a sustainable business solution.
Let’s #Empower the lives of many and give refugees the opportunities to access affordable & simple Wi-Fi connection across the world! (Source: Empower)