Hubs and wires: Internet use in Indonesian NGOs is strengthening civil society
Two days after the tsunami hit the northern tip of Sumatra on Boxing Day 2004, Yayasan AirPutih (airputih.or.id ) began working quietly, far from publicity, to reconstruct the communication backbone destroyed by the disaster. Using VHF/UHF radio, V-Sat and wireless technology, AirPutih restored communication in Aceh, making its first Internet broadcast on 30 December 2004. This was in spite of the radio silence policy imposed by the local military and government. Yayasan AirPutih also provided the first free satellite telephone and wireless Internet connection in Banda Aceh for humanitarian relief organisations working in the area and continued to do so until it ran out of money. In addition, Yayasan AirPutih played a vital role in establishing the first media centre (acehmediacenter.or.id ) which relayed to the world what happened at ‘ground zero’, channelled support and coordinated humanitarian aid. Without Yayasan AirPutih, the reconstruction of an information infrastructure and initial relief in Aceh after the disaster would have been impossible.
The urgent need to reconstruct Aceh’s information infrastructure, and in particular to provide Internet access, reflects the importance of this technology to the work of both Indonesian and foreign NGOs and aid organisations. Yet Internet use among Indonesian NGOs is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is only in the last decade or so that the Internet has became more widely available and the technology adopted by Indonesian NGOs. However, in that time, Internet use has had a significant impact on the organisations and their work.
Read the full article in INSIDE INDONESIA here.