Northern Public Affairs

Internet Connectivity in Indigenous and Northern Communities

Northern Public Affairs, in collaboration with the Internet Society, is pleased to publish our Fall 2018 special issue focusing on emerging developments in community networks among Indigenous peoples in North America.

Internet connectivity for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the United States has long been difficult to implement due to many environmental and socio-economic factors such as remoteness of communities, difficulty gaining first mile access, reliable networks, slow speeds, expensive equipment and high data costs. Community networks are communications infrastructure deployed and operated by local people, offering Indigenous communities a way to access the Internet to meet their own needs. For many, affordable, high-quality Internet access means community sustainability. Community networks encourage policymakers and regulators to examine new ways and means to fill local digital divides, like supporting local content in the appropriate language(s).

The Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and advocates for policies that enable universal access.

This special issue of NPA assembles diverse voices to explore the impact of access in the areas of education, healthcare, digital literacy, cultural/language promotion and preservation as well as any negative impacts.  Readers will find stories about existing Indigenous community networks and developing ones, highlighting successful and promising initiatives bringing Internet connectivity throughout Alaska and northern Canada.

In just over one week, Internet Society will host the 2nd annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit in Inuvik, NWT, showcasing and exploring the success stories of Indigenous community networks in Canada, the United States and around the globe to help find solutions to improve Internet access for all.  This special edition of Northern Public Affairs will provide a means to facilitate dialogue at the Summit.

Featured Image: The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this image of a portion of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta and the town of Inuvik. The 194 kilometer-long Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway runs along the river’s East Channel. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens (cc) using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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