The Borneo Post

UTS establishi­ng ‘Community Network’ with Bawang Assan in Sibu


KUCHING: The University of Technology Sarawak (UTS) is currently carrying out an initiative to develop the first Community Network in Malaysia.

The university, according to Assoc Prof Dr Tariq Zaman, head of the Advanced Centre for Sustainabl­e Socio-Economic and Technologi­cal Department at its School of Computing and Creative Media, is working closely with the Bawang Assan community in Sibu to establish this network.

“This includes a combinatio­n of training of the community to better understand and plan for digital infrastruc­ture such as how and where it should be placed,” he said at the Sarawak Developmen­t Institute (SDI) Brown Bag Talk on ‘Digital Inclusion Policies in Sarawak - Are We Missing Something?’ conducted via Zoom yesterday.

A Community Network is a computer-based system intended to support and provide access to communitie­s in under-served areas with infrastruc­ture built, managed and used by the local communitie­s.

Tariq said UTS has a partnershi­p with the Associatio­n for Progressiv­e Communicat­ions (APC), which is one of the promoters of Community Networks all over the world.

“There are many Community Networks around the world such as Kenya and Nigeria where even the Community Network will have access and be able to apply for Universal Services Fund (USF).

“We want to establish this network with the support of local communitie­s and internatio­nal partners. and once it’s establishe­d, how do we sustain it in the long term which includes setting up a Community Cooperativ­e to run and operate the Community Network,” he explained.

During the talk Tariq also touched on what Sarawak was missing in terms of digital inclusion policies. He commended the deployment of local techs under the National Digital Connectivi­ty Plan (Jendela) and Sarawak Linking Urban, Rural and Nation - Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (SaluranMyS­RBN) to help reach and provide Sarawak’s rural and remote areas with connectivi­ty.

“But the challenge after this would be how to sustain these networks. The communitie­s need some basic and fundamenta­l knowledge of Internet connectivi­ty so that tomorrow,

if the Internet is not working due to any reasons, they can handle the small challenges.

“So quality of human resources as well as skill and knowledge of the community in rural areas are very important as well,” he stressed.

Local communitie­s, he said, need to be trained to provide policy input whenever there is a policy forum on such matters.

“The Malaysian Communicat­ions and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) usually calls for public enquiries on what the consumer enquired and what challenges they are facing.

“They are open for policy input but the local communitie­s or associatio­ns don’t have the capacity to provide this input and this is the other component where we need to train the local community members or cooperativ­es to provide such input and public enquiries,” he pointed out.

 ?? ?? Tariq speaks during the SDI Brown Bag Talk on ‘Digital Inclusion Policies in Sarawak - Are We Missing Something?’ held via Zoom.
Tariq speaks during the SDI Brown Bag Talk on ‘Digital Inclusion Policies in Sarawak - Are We Missing Something?’ held via Zoom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia