In the West, we live in an interconnected world, where nearly everyone understands computers and has access to them. So if you are a developing nation, how can you bring technology to the lives of millions – when you simply do not have the investment or infrastructure in place to support it? KitGuru takes a quick look at a thin client with a difference.
The developers at cnaSoft have been working with Birmingham City University (BCU) and African communications company, Econet. The project aims to deliver a completely new way for people with limited resources to enter the modern world of IT.
If you have your own PC and a good web connection, then you can simply download and install the software from the web. However, the delivery mechanism into African countries will be USB pen drive.
The software itself has a very small footprint, less than 300kb. You can plug it into any PC, anywhere. If there is no connection, you can begin working immediately with the drive alone. If a connection is established, then you will automatically begin working online. No matter how weak the connection, even if it flutters up and down all the time, your important work will still trickle its way onto the web.
Today, in the Millennium Point building at Birmingham City University, universities from across the country will come together to see what BCU and its partners have delivered. This follows a very successful demonstration to 700 students last month.
Alongside the development team, guest speakers will include Paul Tilsley (Deputy leader of Birmingham City Council), Greg Page (Cisco), Bob Johnson (former head of Orange’s retail operation) and the chairman of CNAP.me, Oliver Rothschild.
Asked about CNAP.me, project leader Dr Peter Rayson said: “This is an innovative software platform which allows users to have their own ‘virtual PC’, with their personal files and settings, on any machine with internet access, anywhere in the world.”
“The cloud platform provides content and applications to inform, interact, socially connect and even entertain, as well as delivering all their essential services and educational requirements”, he said. “The uniqueness of this technology is that it is accessed via a low cost USB devices plugged into any available PC. It works across any available bandwidth and provides a working environment off-line, syncing any changes back into the cloud when the internet connection is again available – great for distance learning or leaning where there is no internet connectivity, such as on trains”.
Visitors to the event will be hands-on demonstrations of the capabilities of the CNAP.me software.
KitGuru says: With the right kind of sponsorship and support packages behind it, an initiative like this could change the lives of millions. The project seems to have solid buy-in from government, education and the private sector. It will be interesting to see what happens when they start to roll it out to a larger audience.
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