METRO PLUS

Mission connectivity

Agent of change René Ejury

Agent of change René Ejury   | Photo Credit: Photo: S. Gopakumar



René Ejury, a techie, is in the city to see if Kerala can be a leaping board for his community mesh networks

With long hair, beard and a curious pair of glasses, René Ejury easily looks a geek, immersed in the nuances of technology. But far from being an introspective computer scientist, René has been actively pursuing community-centric networking projects for over three years now.

René, while working as scientific project member at the University of Rostock in Germany, got involved in a project named ‘Friefunk.’ Friefunk is a community mesh network.

“The idea is to network neighbourhoods wirelessly using consumer equipment and share broadband Internet over it. This ‘infrastructure idea’ has great potential in the world’s rural and semi-urban areas where broadband Internet has not caught up,” explains René.

For René, the last few years have been hectic and engaging. The world summit of free infrastructure in London in 2005 saw acceptance for the Rostockmodel, which grew from 20 nodes to 120 in two years’ time.

In October 2006, a similar summit was held in Dharmasala, Himachal Pradesh. That is how René’s India connection began.

In India vast areas can be benefited by this economically efficient networking solution. Along with other volunteers from the Dharmasala meet, René attempted to establish community mesh networks in semi-urban areas of Maharashtra and Goa. But sustaining solutions could not be reached due to a lack of awareness and help.

In Delhi at the recent ‘freed.in’ conference, René tried to explain and gather support for his venture. He also conducted a workshop at IITM-K in the city and is attempting to establish a mesh at the institute. He is determined to push the idea until it acquires critical mass.

“The project,” says René, “is feasible in Kerala like elsewhere in India. But Kerala is even more of a viable ground because of high levels of awareness and demand and e-literacy.”



As a tourist



Like many other tourists in the city, René can be caught mobile blogging snaps of the ‘Matsyakanyaka’ on Shangumukhom beach, enjoying the sun, pondering over spicy breakfast, biking the by-pass and so on.

But René is not a tourist, he is an agent of change. Like all free infrastructure and free software advocates he is sympathetic to other projects in the genre such as ‘open street maps.’

René is all praise for Open Street Maps, which is an attempt to build an online maps’ database based on open source standards. A small GPS device that could be used for the purpose can be seen with him.

People like René bring to the shores of God’s own country, ideas for cyber freedom that are revolutionising the Internet. Are users in Kerala ready to log in?

VISHNU MENON M

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