Jennifer Haroon is Access Principal at Google.
Without Internet access, how would life be different? We go online to find a new doctor, research the best schools, and find creative inspiration. In Africa today, less than 16% of the population has reliable connectivity. Google recently sponsored the Internet Society (ISOC) to commission a report that examines some of the roadblocks to Internet access in Africa, proposing ways to lift some of these barriers.
In the last five years, large investments have been made to improve access in Sub-Saharan Africa. Undersea cables have improved international connectivity. However, there is still a lag in terrestrial connectivity—whether national, cross-border, or local—that is needed to connect users to those undersea cables.
The report highlights the need for terrestrial connectivity and recommends that policymakers remove barriers to its growth, including bureaucracy, limited cross-border permits, and stringent permit requirements. The report also highlights the need for governments to promote private-sector investment in extending terrestrial connectivity, such as allowing for infrastructure sharing, which can lower costs. Lastly, it highlights the need for agencies with the authority to make these regulatory changes and promote the growth of access.
Although connectivity has improved, more can be done. The suggested policy changes and investments can lead to better infrastructure and increased competition, which can encourage lower prices and higher quality access for users.
Alexandra Pappas is Community and Events Coordinator at Visualizing.org.
In our latest challenge, designers and creative coders visualized Google's Transparency Report with the aim of adding context or insight to our understanding of the openness of the internet. In the report, Google discloses the number of requests received from copyright owners and governments to remove information from their services. Of the fantastic projects that were submitted—check them all out in our gallery—judges selected projects that best made sense of the complexity of the data, offered innovation in approach and design, and compelled us to explore more.
Congratulations to Frontwise with their winning project Google Online Takedown Requests Browser. Judges appreciated its beautiful design and the ample functionality to discover patterns and trends, including filters by dataset, time period, copyright owner, and target domains. Additionally, the organization by time and volume and distribution between an outer ring and inner ring of the monthly overview of requests and targeted domains or products presented the data neatly and effectively.
Simon Schulz is awarded second place for Country Based Google Transparency Report. As the only project to offer a detailed breakdown of the data by country rather than a more summary approach, judges felt the project provided an important point of view, one that could be a nice complement to the Transparency Report itself.
Prism by Felix Gonda takes third place for its focus—breaking down the volume of the data by country of origin, reason of request, and Google's products—and fluid interactivity that allowed easy exploration and comparison. Judges also noted its polish and creative solution.
Frontwise, Simon, and Felix will receive $3250, $1250, and $500 respectively for their great work. Thank you to Google, our jurors, and all participants!
Want to try your hand at another project? Take a look at our Visualizing Hospital Price Data challenge, offering $30,000 in prizes. We look forward to seeing your work!