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A networking researcher interested in the challenges of infrastructure at the end of the tail of connectivity


Repair and maintenance requirements limit the successful operation of rural infrastructure. Current best practices are centralized management, which requires travel from urban areas and is prohibitively expensive, or intensively training community members, which limits scaling. We explore an alternative model: crowdsourcing repair from the community. Leveraging a Community Cellular Network in the remote Philippines, we sent SMS to all active network subscribers (n = 63) requesting technical support. From the pool of physical respondents, we explored their ability to repair through mock failures and conducted semi-structured interviews about their experiences with repair. We learned that community members would be eager to practice repair if allowed, would network to recruit more expertise, and seemingly have the collective capacity to resolve some common failures. They are most successful when repairs map directly to their lived experiences. We suggest infrastructure design considerations that could make repairs more tractable and argue for an inclusive approach.


Esther Jang, Mary Claire Barela, Matt Johnson, Philip Martinez, Cedric Festin, Margaret Lynn, Josephine Dionisio, and Kurtis Heimerl. 2018. Crowdsourcing Rural Network Maintenance and Repair via Network Messaging. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper 67, 1–12. DOI:

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Currently a grad student at the University of Washington in the ICTD Lab...