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Tuesday, June 14

  1. page Project Overview edited ... In addition to reviewing communications infrastructure, the teams explored the implications of…
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    In addition to reviewing communications infrastructure, the teams explored the implications of digital technology for three sectors of Cuban society: arts and culture, public health, and sustainable agriculture. During the March field visit, the team surveyed over 150 Cubans from all walks of life, ranging from government officials to local tobacco farmers. They were joined in the project by celebrated photographer Omar Z. Robles, whose work from the trip has received worldwide attention.
    The participants would like to thank the many leading scholars in Cuban studies and leaders from the technology and business sectors who offered their guidance over the course of the semester.
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    articles in Foreign Affairs, published by the Council
    This research was implemented by students and administrators of the Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice program at Columbia University. Visit the Group Biography page for background on the team members.
    For more information, contact Anne Nelson.
    (view changes)
    6:38 am

Saturday, June 4

Sunday, May 29

  1. page Internet Fixed Infrastructure edited Internet Fixed Infrastructure Facts about fixed infrastructure Fixed Infrastructure Fixed te…

    Internet Fixed Infrastructure
    Facts about fixed infrastructureFixed Infrastructure
    Fixed telephone service: 1,2 million fixed line users currently in Cuba, representing 24.1 % of home telephone line penetration.
    Fixed Internet penetration: 0% broadband penetration (fixed or mobile) and 3.4% dial up Internet penetration.
    ...
    WiFi hot spots are located in public parks and each park has an average of 3 to 6 Access Points (AC).
    Each WiFi hot spot allows 254 users maximum at the same time.
    Fixed Internet servicesServices
    Fixed Internet encompasses all services offered for in-home Internet, including dialup and broadband. Fixed services also include WiFi hot spots. The fixed Internet infrastructure in Cuba is outdated and provides very limited access at an extremely high cost. According to Cuba’s 2011 official government statistics, a mere 25% of the population is connected to the Internet. However, Freedom House suggests that only 5% of the population is really connected.
    Theoretically, access to the Internet should be available for all Cubans. According to a 2015 article by ICT Works, the 1996 Decree-Law 209 states that to obtain a permit to get in-home Internet access, citizens must provide a ‘valid reason’ to request the connection. In practice these permits are granted only to government officials, communist party members, and foreigners.
    Given that obtaining a permit to access home Internet/Intranet is almost impossible for Cubans who do not work in the government, the average Cuban usually relies on government Internet cafes and WiFi hot spots to connect. Internet cafes are less popular now because mobile phone penetration is increasing exponentially, meaning that people prefer connecting to the Internet from their personal phones in the park rather than going to an Internet Cafe. Service is still unaffordable to most Cubans, even though it has gone down considerably over the past 2 years. The price is US$2 (2 CUC) for an hour of navigation in WiFi or Internet Cafes, which is a significant amount to pay given that a local monthly salary averages between $20 and $30 per month in Cuba.
    Internet cafésCafés
    By 2015, there were 118 ETECSA Internet Cafes (Salas de navegación) and 600 Youth Computer Clubs (Joven Club de Computación) throughout the island. To connect at these Internet Cafes, users need a Nauta pre-paid card or Nauta account (which can only be obtained by Cuban citizens) and a valid ID.
    WiFi hot spotsHot Spots
    In an effort to increase Internet access in an relatively easy way, ETECSA decided to deploy WiFi hot spots all around Cuba. The advantage of deploying WiFi hot spots, compared to home Internet or Mobile Internet, is that it requires fewer changes to the present infrastructure, translating to lower costs and faster adaptability to the ever-changing world of digital communications.
    On July 1, 2015, ETECSA opened up 35 public WiFi hotspots across the country, which are accessible to users in public, usually located in outdoor spaces such as parks and plazas. The number of hot spots had already surpassed 90 at the time this article was written, and is projected to increase further this year. Most of these WiFi hot spots are powered by Huawei routers such as the one pictured below:
    ...
    For the other services offered for home Internet (Dialup or Broadband), find detailed information on the ETECSA webpage here.
    Despite the many advances in price and access, Cuba continues to have some of the most restrictive Internet access in the world. Find the total report of Freedom House here.
    Internet connectivityConnectivity with the outside worldOutside World
    Countries usually
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    fiber optic cables that connect to the World Wide Web.cables. This image
    {https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/HH7eJMI2xcuFZzWeKJ-9efRFf3H7lrypsAMGabKiDOTUmLDE67Ctqi026DgeMG0-CHsfJUVjdkGZaWqPsnu9v5iycFtfyVi1wc08t-GIrsDhgQSeLur32trgHcPU_kxMJyFdMowb}
    Given the American embargo and the restrictions that the Cuban government has in place in regard to the Internet, this image shows Cuba’s current connectivity through fiber optic cables:
    {https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/osJlvySwzN4Uj0hkGcyEHDJRqsEyGCps3mBaGTslZgZM0RALZPGYfjHbf3MzM1JreL6sHZd3MzDFRmR7206PNiKk6lO4g4JSU7PoC3dM8a1JTJwtq2lXnZQh7m173HmrVJqXX2el}
    Just three cables connect Cuba to the outside world, one of which connects Guantanamo, an American military base. For the ALBA-1 project, the red cable on the east (right side of the image) is the the main Internet cable to Venezuela, and the other cable to Jamaica cable is the redundancy, which serves as a backup in case of lost connection in the main one.
    Fibre optic cableOptic Cable
    Cuba's first internet access, established in 1996, was entirely based on satellite connections, starting with a 64kbps link to Sprint in the U.S. While this was monumental at the time, satellite connections offer limited opportunities for the expansion of Internet services. Satellite connections are slow, expensive, difficult to set up, and susceptible to distortions created by climate and solar radiation. However, these obstacles can be overcome by installing fiber-optic cable connections, which, for islands like Cuba, run under the sea and provide a direct connection between Internet users and servers that are primarily based in the US. Due to the embargo and Cuban political restrictions, there was no fiber optic cable link-up connecting Cuba to the rest of the world until very recently. However, since Cuba got its first fibre-optic internet connection to Venezuela in 2011, internet service in Cuba has expanded, and there is considerable hope that a direct connection between Cuba and the US might result in improved internet service.
    Fiber optic cable #1: ALBA-1 (Cuba - Venezuela - Redundancy: Cuba - Jamaica - Venezuela)The ALBA-1 cable is an 1,860 km (1,156 mi) undersea fiber optic telecommunications cable that spans between La Guaira, Venezuela and Simony, Cuba, with another stretch between Santiago de Cuba and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The two maps below show the cable’s course between these points. Until the activation of this cable, all of Cuba’s internet was limited to satellite links, which offer limited bandwidth and high latency times.
    ...
    Although no plan has been proposed to this date, there is considerable interest in building an undersea fiber optic cable directly between Havana and Miami. Not necessarily due to political reasons, but as a consequence of the way that the internet is set up, virtually all of Cuba's Internet services are routed through U.S. servers. Currently, the ALBA-1 cable serves to connect Cuban internet users to these servers by directing Cuban traffic from the ALBA-1 cable to other undersea cables connecting Venezuela to the United States. Considering Cuba's close proximity to Florida, a direct connection between Miami and Havana would be relatively inexpensive, and would provide much faster internet services for Cuban users, as well as lower latency times and additional capacity for emergency communication.
    Ambassador Daniel Sepúlveda, deputy-assistant secretary of the State and US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, has stated that the Cuban government has expressed interested in running a cable directly between Havana and Miami. Although the Internet and telecommunications is not currently a prioritized sector by the Cuban government, Sepúlveda is optimistic that such a connection would help to mend relations between the two countries, providing not only a physical connection, but a psychological one as well.
    ...
    order to "reachreach the last mile"mile and provide
    {fiberoptic backbone.png}
    The future is uncertain in regard to Cuba’s fixed Internet infrastructure, however there have been some advances in this regard over the past years that shed light on the possibility of connectivity for Cubans in the near future. (Reference the Future Plans page for more information on this.)
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    7:54 pm
  2. page Overview of Telecommunication edited ... Overview of Telecommunications Telecommunication Policy and Governance ... but up. Accord…
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    Overview of Telecommunications
    Telecommunication Policy and Governance
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    but up. According to Cuba’s 2011 official government statistics, a mere 25% of the population is connected to the Internet. However, evidence suggests that only 5% are really connected to the actual Internet, with the remaining 20% connected to a national Intranet. The national Intranet consists of national content controlled by the government and includes the national email system, educational content, and national and international websites.
    Cuba
    Cuba has only
    The Cuban government has maintained a lukewarm standpoint towards Internet expansion. While the government has supported the spread of digital information systems that serve the country's education and health systems, as well as other sectors contributing to the public good, it has also shown itself to be fearful of potential dissidence, cyberattacks, or the penetration of foreign interests into Cuban society. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MINCOM) aims to increase the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to develop the national economy. With this goal in mind, one of its policies is to "satisfy the demands for amplification, modernization, and diversification of the services provided" while maintaining "the operational vitality of the existent infrastructure." In order to advance this policy, MINCOM has stated that ETECSA will prioritize "the evolution and growth of the mobile phone system," through which they will integrate new services such as email, Internet navigation, payment options, and the transfer of account balances between users of prepaid services. Despite these advancements, the Cuban government's top priority in the telecommunications sector continues to be public security.
    Since first offering public Internet services, ETECSA has viewed the service as a means of generating revenue and still does not consider it to be a public good. As such, with its monopoly share in the sector, ETECSA does not have an incentive to reduce prices and continues to amass significant profit through this enterprise.
    (view changes)
    7:48 pm
  3. page Offline Webpages edited ... Revolico, an offline website accessible through El Paquete, also has an online version accessi…
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    Revolico, an offline website accessible through El Paquete, also has an online version accessible from anywhere in the world, including the United States. Revolico is the Cuban equivalent of eBay or Craigslist, where users can post what they are selling and view what others are selling. Revolico’s interface is not as user-friendly as eBay or Craigslist, and does not offer the option of buying online, since credit card services are not yet available in Cuba. This offline website is adapted to the Cuban context and provides the necessary contact information to make in-person transactions possible, including names, phone numbers, and information about items for sale. Revolico is a functioning marketplace accessible not only through the Internet, which 75% of Cubans cannot access according to the government statistics, but also through the El Paquete sharing network.
    {Revolico Nav.png}
    {Revolico online.png}
    Screenshot
    Screenshot of __Revolico'sRevolico's online website__. Bywebsite. Photo by Mariela Machado
    Another example of how Cubans adapt websites to the lack of connectivity is the incredible ingenuity around Airbnb. Similar to Revolico, Cuba’s very limited Internet and complete absence of credit card services demand a solution A La Cubana for Airbnb. In order to solve connectivity issues, Cubans rely once again on their social networks to post and manage ads. One or two Airbnb managers in each town or neighborhood who usually have good Internet connectivity and are tech savvy are in charged of managing, updating, maintaining, and publishing apartments or houses for a small fee. At the same time, the problem of lacking digital payment options has been solved through a service only available in Cuba called Vacuba, which is unseen in the rest of the world. Vacuba manages the money deposited to each Cuban Airbnb host, and then goes door to door to deliver cash payments to the hosts each month. This is the only payment option for Airbnb hosts based in Cuba. Vacuba asks only for a name, address, and telephone number to use the service, thus making it easy and accessible for Cubans to become Airbnb host.
    VISTAR is another good example of an offline version of an online web page. This magazine is similar to People Magazine in the U.S., focusing on Cuban celebrities and artists, while also providing information about the international celebrity and arts scene. As in the case of Revolico, this magazine reaches the vast majority of Cubans through El Paquete.
    Given this Internet offline sharing culture, what can Cubans teach the rest of the world? Cubans can teach the world that the Internet is not the only medium of communication, and that there are other ways to share information by taking advantage of the social capital present throughout the world. Information and Communication Technologies include a wide variety of technologies that enable communication and information. Offline information sharing could play a key role in enabling a new form of communication. Additionally, ICTs not only increase the speed of connection and transfer of information, but they also open up a whole world of digital information that can be shared and transferred to improve quality of life. Cubans are redefining the meaning of sharing and can teach the rest of the world to adapt to lack of Internet infrastructure with resilience and innovation.
    ...
    and Emily SylviaSylviaGraphic by: Tricia Johnson
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    7:46 pm
  4. page Offline Webpages edited ... The main way of sharing these offline websites is through El Paquete. With one pen drive or te…
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    The main way of sharing these offline websites is through El Paquete. With one pen drive or terabyte storage unit, Cubans share information not through physical wires, but through their social networks of family, friends, acquaintances, and neighbors. In El Paquete, users can find folders with offline apps, movies, music, TV series, magazines and offline websites that don’t require actual connectivity. (Refer to the El Paquete page for more information.)
    Revolico, an offline website accessible through El Paquete, also has an online version accessible from anywhere in the world, including the United States. Revolico is the Cuban equivalent of eBay or Craigslist, where users can post what they are selling and view what others are selling. Revolico’s interface is not as user-friendly as eBay or Craigslist, and does not offer the option of buying online, since credit card services are not yet available in Cuba. This offline website is adapted to the Cuban context and provides the necessary contact information to make in-person transactions possible, including names, phone numbers, and information about items for sale. Revolico is a functioning marketplace accessible not only through the Internet, which 75% of Cubans cannot access according to the government statistics, but also through the El Paquete sharing network.
    {Revolico.png}
    {Revolico1.png}
    {Revolico2.png}
    {Revolico 3.png}
    Screenshot of the Revolico offline folder included in El Paquete. Photo by: Mariela Machado
    {Revolico Nav.png}
    {Revolico online.png}
    Screenshot of __Revolico's online website__. By Mariela Machado
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    7:43 pm
  5. file Revolico Nav.png uploaded
    7:42 pm
  6. page Cuban Health Sector edited ... The Cuban healthcare system is free for citizens and prioritizes primary care. In 1959, after …
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    The Cuban healthcare system is free for citizens and prioritizes primary care. In 1959, after the revolution, the government set up a public health system focused on preventative medicine. Today, the country’s health is surpassing that of the U.S. according to several key indicators. In 2014, life expectancy in Cuba was measured at 79 years compared to 78 years in the U.S. and the infant mortality rate is 4.2 per 1000 births compared to 6.2 in the U.S. Cuba is not only one of the healthiest countries in the world, but is also a leader in the field of medical research and development (R&D). In recent news, Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and developed a vaccine for lung cancer that many developed countries are hoping to access.
    The government places incredible value on their health system, particularly on primary care. In fact, all Cubans are required to visit a doctor at least once annually. In most cases, employers (i.e. the government) require that employees bring a certificate from their doctors after their annual check-up in order to keep their job. This emphasis on primary and preventative care is reflected in the way that the Cuban healthcare system is set up.
    ...
    if necessary.
    In addition, consultorios are seen as a focal point for many communities. Walking around a neighborhood in Havana, nearly every stranger can point to the nearest consultorio and tell you the name of the doctor who works there. Elderly neighbors come to clinics quite frequently for minor scratches and bruises, simply because medical services are readily available and accessible to them. Doctors reported that many elderly patients use the consultorios as a community gathering place and frequent them on a regular basis to socialize with one another in the waiting room. Doctors take the time to talk to each patient and provide the necessary care, regardless of why they visit.
    {IMG_1081.jpg} Photo by Chiara Bercu
    After the consultorio, the second front of primary care in Cuba is the policlinico, which is a larger medical center equipped for minor emergencies and surgeries that is open 24 hours a day. On average, 23 consultorios feed into a single polyclinic which serves a population of about 22,000 people. Polyclinics are generally equipped with ultrasounds, and some have CAT scans and other more advanced medical technology as well. They are staffed by two doctors at all times, and serve as primary emergency facilities for the communities they support. While patients technically are expected to access their local consultorio before visiting a policlinico, many go straight to the polyclinic level for their healthcare needs, according to one doctor staffing a polyclinic in Havana. Both consultorios and polyclinics are structured as primary health care facilities for Cubans, helping to alleviate pressure on hospitals and offer conveniently located access points for Cubans to seek care.
    ...
    the country.
    {https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/sIjBErU13wy22lysy9gWnZQ/image?w=371&h=316&rev=116&ac=1}
    Diagnosis in Cuba - Classifications of Risk
    ...
    Individuals are classified annually and can move between categories from year to year. Each category has different follow-up procedures based on risk levels. Doctors see patients who are classified as riskier more frequently, either by requiring them to come in for more regular check-ups or by visiting them at home. Home visits are extremely common in Cuba. Doctors frequently conduct home visits if patients cannot come to the consultorios due to illness. When patients miss appointments and are not responsive to phone calls, doctors will simply conduct a home visit the following day to see why they have not responded.
    Women's Health
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    anymore children.
    Doctors are extremely forthcoming with their female patients about various forms of birth control, and access to contraceptives is easy and inexpensive. A single condom costs 1 CUP (equivalent to .04 cents in U.S. currency). Doctors spend a great deal of time educating their patients with prenatal health information to ensure that they are in good physical health and receiving proper nutrition in case they do choose to become pregnant. After the age of 18, doctors make a point to talk to women about their sexual and reproductive health during each annual check up. Additionally, because doctors live amongst their patients, they reported hearing whispers from family members and neighbors of women attempting to get pregnant. Doctors diligently follow up on these rumors with phone calls and schedule additional appointments to address the woman’s health. In order to help women create a plan for prenatal health, doctors make a point of keeping track of when female patients hope to conceive. Women who hope to get pregnant schedule several follow-up appointments throughout the year to ensure their health and seek advice if they are having any trouble.
    Early Childhood Health
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    7:25 pm
  7. page Cuban Health Sector edited ... In addition, consultorios are seen as a focal point for many communities. Walking around a nei…
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    In addition, consultorios are seen as a focal point for many communities. Walking around a neighborhood in Havana, nearly every stranger can point to the nearest consultorio and tell you the name of the doctor who works there. Elderly neighbors come to clinics quite frequently for minor scratches and bruises, simply because medical services are readily available and accessible to them. Doctors reported that many elderly patients use the consultorios as a community gathering place and frequent them on a regular basis to socialize with one another in the waiting room. Doctors take the time to talk to each patient and provide the necessary care, regardless of why they visit.
    {IMG_1081.jpg} Photo by Chiara Bercu
    Photo by: Chiara Bercu
    After the consultorio, the second front of primary care in Cuba is the policlinico, which is a larger medical center equipped for minor emergencies and surgeries that is open 24 hours a day. On average, 23 consultorios feed into a single polyclinic which serves a population of about 22,000 people. Polyclinics are generally equipped with ultrasounds, and some have CAT scans and other more advanced medical technology as well. They are staffed by two doctors at all times, and serve as primary emergency facilities for the communities they support. While patients technically are expected to access their local consultorio before visiting a policlinico, many go straight to the polyclinic level for their healthcare needs, according to one doctor staffing a polyclinic in Havana. Both consultorios and polyclinics are structured as primary health care facilities for Cubans, helping to alleviate pressure on hospitals and offer conveniently located access points for Cubans to seek care.
    Lastly, Cubans visit hospitals for major surgeries and specialized medical attention. Hospitals have more advanced medical equipment in addition to medical specialists. Hospitals are located throughout the country, with a larger concentration in Havana. In the case of extremely complicated medical procedures, patients in rural areas occasionally have to travel to Havana to receive necessary care. Additionally, medical facilities in Havana --including consultorios and policlinicos--tend to be better equipped than many medical facilities in rural parts of the country. Cubans reported that they were often unable to find specific medications or access equipment like CAT Scans in rural areas of the country.
    ...
    The special attention placed on a prenatal woman carries forward into the first few years of her child’s life. Children under a year old are considered at risk, also falling into category 2. They are required to see their doctors at the consultorio several times throughout their first few months of life. When the child is just 5 to 7 days old, they visit the consultorio for the first time for metabolic tests. If a woman does not bring her baby to the consultario by this date, the doctor will make a home visit to check on mother and child.
    Specialists also do rotations through the consultorios so that women can bring their children to their neighborhood clinics once a week to see a pediatric doctor. At one neighborhood consultorio, for example, a pediatrician visits each Thursday and a Psychologist visits each Monday.
    ...
    Chiara Bercu Edited
    Edited
    by: Laura
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    7:19 pm
  8. page Agriculture Recommendations edited ... Though lines of communication between farmers in the countryside and Havana-based app develope…
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    Though lines of communication between farmers in the countryside and Havana-based app developers are few and far between, farm-based content applications are a point of entry for offline app developers in Cuba to challenge their skills and create a new information source for farmers across the island. Apps, like Sirrus by SST Software, help farmers in the developed world to optimize production through precision agriculture support and immediate answers to agricultural questions. Cuban farmers need an ICT-based solution similar to Sirrus, but appropriate for their context, to reach their maximum productivity while optimizing resource use to ensure the conservation of their land for equally productive seasons in the future.
    SMS Solutions for Agriculture
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    outside entity in, at least,least in the short
    Two examples of successful SMS-based solutions of systemic deficiencies are iCow and WeFarm. ICow, a Kenyan-based organization, strives to provide farmers with immediate responses to questions about their livestock. The platform allows farmers to enter critical information about their livestock and receive instantaneous information back. This information can include instructions from trained veterinarians on animal nutrition, gestation, and disease control. If the farmer still feels that his/her concern has not yet been resolved, the app will connect him/her with a nearby specialist or veterinarian. Farmers in the developing world can now receive instant information to improve their understanding of their production process without having to rely on extension workers that often do not reach the smallholder farmers on the fringe of the agriculture sector.
    WeFarm, which markets itself as “the internet for people without the internet”, is a social enterprise based in London that connects farmers all over the world on an SMS platform to share vital agriculture information. A farmer can simply text the local WeFarm number with his/her question and concern. This question will be posted on the WeFarm website and sent via SMS to selected members of WeFarm all over the world. He/she will then receive an answer, translated into his/her native language, within minutes. The WeFarm technology works on all types of phones, which avoids exclusion of farmers based on income-level. This platform is being widely used in the Dominican Republic, which is an excellent example for assessing the feasibility of use in the Cuban agricultural context, given the similarities in agricultural development between the two nations. Though adopting this model is not possible in Cuba currently, given political constraints, it serves as an example of what is possible in a low-income setting.
    (view changes)
    7:17 pm

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