Two decades after creating the World Wide Web, in a speech at an MIT symposium, Tim Berners-Lee said that “access to the web is now a human right”. Probably not many people know, however, that only 25.6% of the world population has internet access. This means there are 5 billion people worldwide who cannot benefit from the well of information we all take for granted.
Kosta Grammatis, an ex-avionics engineer, wants to fix this injustice. He has already started an ambitious project attempting to give the whole world “internet access as ubiquitous as the air you breathe”, as he puts it in his TEDxAthens talk. His foundation, ahumanright.org, wants to build a free communication network available anywhere in the world because just like Berners-Lee, he believes that access to information is a human right.
The plan is to recycle old infrastructure, namely the most powerful communications satellite ever made, currently owned by a bankrupted company. Grammatis wants to buy the satellite and then move it to a place where it is needed. He is using the power of the Internet to crowdfund his project, and he has already raised almost $62,000 from the $150,000 needed to complete the initial phase of the project.
According to Kostas the Internet is the most important tool people could have because it helps them to help themselves. “People need to have the power to solve their own problems,” which is exactly what access to information gives them. He believes that as long as there is free internet access to all, people will not only find ways to get the necessary devices to use it but also to solve the bigger problems present in their lives and communities.
One thing is sure, if Kostakis’ dream comes true, it would stand as a testament to the power the digital age has bestowed on the individual, to help not only himself, but the whole world as well.
You can help Kostas’ mission by donating on his website: http://buythissatellite.org/
Read an interview with Kostas in NewScientist.
photo: Ivan Plata