Closing the Digital Divide

By Alyssa
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Research-ClosingDigital

According to a recent study by the World Bank, only 19.2% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa and 16.6% of residents of South Asia have internet access, compared with nearly 80% of those in Europe. This dramatic gap is often referred to as the “Digital Divide,” putting developing countries at a distinct disadvantage for economic growth, social mobility and citizen engagement.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Can Low-Earth-orbit satellites succeed in beaming affordable #internet everywhere? #3DSCompass http://bit.ly/CloDigDiv

Now, however, thanks to advances in technology and the efforts of entrepreneurial risk takers, a number of firms are racing to launch advanced satellite systems that promise to bring broadband internet access – even multichannel video streaming – to parts of the world that still lack such basics as around-the-clock electricity and landline telephones.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: If you provide Wi-Fi access to a lemonade vendor in Africa, can it transform his business? #3DSCompass http://bit.ly/CloDigDiv

A article in the most recent issue of Compass magazine explores several different projects that aim to bridge the digital divide.  These include including OneWeb which plans to ring the Earth with a chain of 648 small satellites that can transmit to simple terminals anywhere on the planet and CMMB Vision, which aims to provide audio, video and internet services at little or no cost in China, India and the Southeast Asia countries.  It also covers Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative and Google’s Project Loon.  What will such projects mean for citizens, business and government if Internet access becomes more widespread? Come discover more about these innovative projects that aim to provide digital access to every corner of the world.

Satellite Shakes

By Kate
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photo by Autumn Snake

photo by Autumn Snake

Imagine a fragile insect in its cocoon . . . attached to a rocket ship. The rocket ignites and thrusts its way to the outer hemispheres. Will the insect withstand the violent vibrations of its voyage and remain fully intact, succeeding to unfold its wings and fly upon arrival?

Satellites are like fragile insects catapulted into space. Yet each one costs over one million dollars to make.

Gulp.

You better not mess up when you design your satellite, and you better make sure it’s able to function when it gets to its work-space.

Who knew that as I was nibbling on my parmesan lollypop at Dassault Systèmes’ Partner Summit an hour ago I’d stumble into this sort of conversation?

Actually the satellite example is accessory, because what I was really talking about with Jan and Nick from LMS is virtual labs and realistic simulation.

But before you read further, I thought you’d like to watch a real video about satellite launching to get in the mood:

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We talk a lot about real and immersive virtuality, virtual labs, etc. And sometimes I hear people pondering the day when we can eliminate physical tests altogether.

But Jan and Nick pointed out are few things I think are pretty smart:

  1. When it comes to true innovations, things that have never been invented before, you can’t test them virtually until you’ve physically tested them. How can you integrate the physics of your invention if you’re not sure what they are? We don’t know the alpha and omega to Physics after all.
  2. Virtual testing is raising the bar for physical testing and shaping real-life testing as a whole.

Back to our fragile satellite and violently vibrating rocket example. Jan and Nick used the satellite shake test as an example to illustrate point number two.

Now you’ve got this real satellite, one that’s cost you over a million dollars to make, and you’ve got to shake it to death, so to speak. What if you could “shake it to death” without damaging or killing it?

Ah ha!

To accomplish this, you must carefully engineer your shake test. And the way to do this is to simulate your shake test with realistic simulation. The simulated shake test will help you better define and test the real thing, figure out the safest spots to place test instruments so they won’t damage the satellite during the test action, etc.

And, you can also imagine that with the knowledge gained from the virtual shake test, if done early enough, you could go back to the virtual drawing board and tweak the actual satellite design to give it a better chance of catapultion survival. (I occasionally make up words; hey, language evolves.)

So folks, this is what has jazzed me the most about the Partner Summit so far. Conversations about cool stuff with interesting people. It’s all about people.

Best,

Kate

P.S. Nick kindly gave me this avi of his technology in-action during a simulation satellite shake test.