Co-Designing Digital Resources for Bandwidth-Constrained Communities


Co-Designing Digital Resources for Bandwidth-Constrained Communities

Interaction Design Lab
Level 9, Doug McDonell Building (Building 168)


Rhetoric around information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) often centers around giving ‘have-nots’ equal access to the internet. Access to information and social networking resources, it is posited, will lead to ‘digital inclusion’ and therefore positive social development. However, we argue that framing the problem around internet access limits the potential of communities for leveraging communications technology. I will introduce iNethi, a platform for enabling local creation and sharing of content and services, designed to support small communities and community wireless networks. Our flagship deployment in Ocean View, Cape Town supports a community-owned-and-operated wireless network.  We also have deployed iNethi to support parents of premature babies, and are exploring its usefulness in helping low-skilled workers to find employment. In these communities, high costs of internet have inhibited full participation in existing platforms for peer education (e.g. BabyCentre, Mom Vlogs), music sharing (e.g. YouTube, SoundCloud), and skills development or job seeking. We make an argument for the need for iNethi and establish a research agenda for the iNethi around co-design of content and services, as well as innovative approaches to communications infrastructure.


  • Dr Melissa Densmore
    Dr Melissa Densmore, University of Cape Town