Connecting The Global South: The South-South Media Lab Collaboration

Lance Uriel
Jan 23, 2019 · 7 min read

Over the last two years, icebauhaus, an innovation hub and co-creation space based in Berlin, has been facilitating technological innovations and creative projects aligned with the development of collaboration among the Global South.

A photo of all the residents and host organization representatives of the South-South Media Lab Collaboration 2018

This initiative created the South-South Media Lab Collaboration a program designed to introduce new formats of collaboration between media centers and media professionals in the Global South. The first run of the program was held in South Sudan and has spurted several media projects. Through the spirit of innovation and the success of the first run, the second rendition of the program was born. The South-South Media Lab Collaboration 2018 was a program designed to introduce new formats of collaboration between media centers and media professionals in East-Africa and South-East Asia along with the integration of other fields of interest such as technology and innovation.

With the help and funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), icebauhaus brought in two partner organizations to fuel and expand the latest rendition of the program. Iceaddis (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Common Room (Bandung, Indonesia) were brought in to expand the reach among Global South countries.

Moreover, the 2018 initiative aimed to focus on the promotion of constructive and peaceful media work and discourse by having a Partner Participant develop a prototype or project through a month-long collaboration and in-residence program with a partnered Host Organization.

Meet the Host Organization

Launchgarage Innovation Hub located at Quezon City, Philippines

Launchgarage is the premier startup accelerator and tech innovation hub in the Philippines.

We accelerate tech startups through deal flow, mentorship, programs, and network reach. As an innovation hub, we provide a venue for open collaboration, knowledge sharing, events, acceleration, and a landing pad for global players that want to connect with the Philippine startup ecosystem. Launchgarage welcomes hackers, makers, founders, investors, and other like-minded changemakers to its space.

Aligned with the Launchgarage mantra of innovation through collaboration, we were more than happy to be selected as one of the hosts for the fellowship program which gave us an opportunity to collaborate on a project and connect with other south-south countries, media centers, and tech communities.

Meet the Resident

Victor Augustine Nyang’a, CEO of Victronix

Victor Nyang’a is a hardware and embedded systems engineer from Tanzania. He founded Victronix, an electronics servicing startup company that brings in solutions for custom electronics, hardware and embedded systems developments, M2M solutions, and training support. Its target market includes manufacturers, students, and hobbyists of electronics.

With over 25 years of experience in the field of electronics, Victor has helped out in the development of key industry applications for both public and private companies worldwide. He is also part of the Global Innovation Gathering (GiG) a network of hub managers, makers, founders, innovators, change makers, and other like-minded, brilliant people, that gather yearly in Berlin to create synergies among themselves, while maintaining continuous exchange through common projects throughout the year. Its members are committed to the values of Constant Curiosity, Open Collaboration, and Meaningful Impact.

Step Up 2018: Bandung & Addis Ababa

Residents and host organizations at the Step Up event @ Bandung, Indonesia

Two regional networking events were set on September and October 2018 to kickstart the program. The first Step Up event was held in Bandung; Southeast Asian members gathered to collaborate with the program. The second Step Up event was held in Addis Ababa, gathering all East African participants. The objective of the events is to aggregate ideas and challenges to promote healthy discussions among the collaborators by undergoing the review and scrutiny of the program’s organizers and advisors.

Collaborative ideation activity held during the Step Up event

After the events, the in-residence program was scheduled from November to December 2018. Here, Victor was to collaborate with the host organization for a month to create a viable prototype of their project. The resulting documentation and prototype were presented at the final South-South Media Lab 2018 Networking and Culmination event to conclude the program.

Immersion in the Philippines

(L-R) LAUNCHGARAGE co-founder and CEO, Jay Fajardo, Partner Participant Victor Nyang’a, and LAUNCHGARAGE GM Lance Pormarejo

The first week was designed for brainstorming and collaboration. Initially, Victor had an idea to create a portal for open data through a website that visualizes and compiles data collected and recorded by sensors from the device he was creating.

Victor discussing the first idea sketch of the Victronix Data Pool System

Throughout the immersion, both the Launchgarage and Proudcloud engineers collaborated and advised with regards to the direction of the hardware aspect of the project. This time was also used to draft up some mentors and partners who may help out and engage for the said project.

Learning, Collaboration, and Consultation

Victor with Arnold Bagabaldo, Founder of packetworx an IoT Technology Hub in Pasig City

Packetworx is an IoT Technology Hub located at the heart of Ortigas, Philippines and is one of the partners that we have tapped to collaborate on the project. Arnold Bagabaldo, Founder of Packetworx, is also a mentor of Launchgarage.

We took the opportunity to bring like-minded engineers together to explore and shed more insight on the proposed project. During the consultation, information about LPWAN a low-power wide-area network was proposed as an improvement for the device. This enables the sensors to transport data with less electricity consumption and was a viable solution to be integrated.

Acquiring Hardware for Prototyping

One of the challenges faced was the acquisition of components needed to begin the development of the sensors. In fact, acquiring the components took as much time as creating the sensors needed for the project.

Fortunately, with the help and knowledge of the engineers from Proudcloud, local sourcing through the largest electronics district in the Philippines known as Raon was viable. Shops such as Alexan, Deeco, and Sparkfruit are known go-to outlets for hardware geeks and hackers at the said electronics district.

Collaboration with other Innovation Hubs

A Session on Emerging Technologies hosted by Nexus Innovation Hub located @ Lipa, Batangas

The immersion also involved getting connected with the tech players in the Philippines the see the viability of collaboration along with sharing perspectives with regards to tech applications. Nexus Innovation Labs is a multi-functional hub located at Lipa, Batangas.

The host organization and partner participant joined a session and discussion on emerging technologies which opened up an exchange of thoughts, perspectives, and insights. This was also an opportunity to gather insights on the prototype we’ve been working on along with the sourcing of the initial set of contributors.

Sensor Prototype Wrap-up

Victor along with the Proudcloud and Launchgarage engineers with the sensor prototype.

Just in time for the conclusion of the immersion the prototype for the sensors has been fabricated and accomplished along with a working transmission of data towards the data pool.

“The residence has brought a lot of experience and knowledge to me. Learning about LoRa (LPWAN) will surely transform to a great extent the way I am doing design especially on remote monitoring and remote control.”

— Victor Nyang’a

The Victronix Datapool System

The fabricated sensor prototype for the Victronix Datapool System

The Victronix Datapool System provides free and easy to access statistical environmental data which can be used for research and development purposes. The data is provided and made possible by contributors who voluntarily set up the sensors in exchange of access for data provided by other contributors. Each contributor is given the responsibility to maintain these sensors and deploy them at private locations under their jurisdiction.

Sensor Schematic

As stewards of open-sourced data, we have provided the schematic so that contributors can set up their own devices and access the data pool provided. Since the project is still in its very early stages, the acquisition of contributors is the main focus. For further questions on being a contributor, you may send an email to victor@victronix.co.tz

Concluding the South-South Media Lab Fellowship

A collated photo of the participants of the South-South Media Lab 2018 Collaboration

Out of the 16 projects that were being produced simultaneously, we can only share about the experience from our perspective. Luckily, the networking event held at the end of the residencies served as a perfect opportunity to present a glimpse of each project being done.

A variety of interesting collaborative efforts were done in the field of responsible journalism, augmented reality education, and open radio networks were presented to name a few.

Breakout sessions conducted during the networking event in Addis Ababa

A series of interesting and insightful discussions were also done during the networking event. Both residents and host organization representatives were given the opportunity expound on each project and share how they can help.

With all that has happened, the program has proved fruitful with regards to its mandate of connecting the Global South through collaboration and we look forward to the potential of having the 2019 edition.

For more information and/or inquiries with regards to this engagement, feel free to send me a message through lance(at)launchgarage(dot)com

Launchgarage was built on a philosophy of innovation from the grassroots and the spirit of open collaboration.

Lance Uriel

Written by

Launchgarage
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