The home access point is essential in any LibreRouter network (actually in any network) as it gives good quality access to the network to those that live under the same roof. It is pretty common that these devices sit in our houses doing pretty much nothing... but they could do so much more.
This device could support community members in using the network to build local connections with their peers, leveraging their new network paths, to make them more resilient and strengthen their communal bonds.
This could be accomplished by designing a web portal, that could provide user-experiences aiming to build solideraty and community, such as providing locally curated and created content (Rádio PSP) or displaying information that's relevant to the community (Moinho market and newspaper).
And also by running local services, that could go from standard self-hosted services, federated services that could discover each other within the network, or even Peer-to-Peer applications, that better distributed load amongst clients and work even if offline.
Deploying and maintaining these services requires technical experience and a proper captive-portal user-experience needs to be co-designed with communties.
In order to have wide adoption, a strategy should consider two things:
- Communities need to just have bare minimal technical knowledge in order to maintain and make use of these services in their own territory, similar to what LibreMesh has done to mesh networks.
- Proper user-experience research and co-design in collaboration with other Community Networks will help to uncover common patterns of community-centered experiences and uses.
It would be great to have a device tailored to do the job, with a set of functionality that serves the communities realities. In order to have clarity of what is required, we need to explore what is available, and experiment ourselves to find what's needed.
We recognize that we need to consider the needs of the existing community networks. We are connected to these groups, and want to engage with them in improving our bonds and working together in our shared exploration.
We want to make sure that the contributions we do can inform not only our process but also others, in order for all to learn and grow together. That is why we want to document our decisions in relation to hardware, architecture, software, user experience and interface design choices.
We want to contribute to the ongoing conversation with other implementors, so we will engage in the public forums to share our experience and build together more and better understanding.
We recognize that within the Community Networks movement, we are priviledged in regards to education and gender, and we want to contribute to disseminate the knowledge by working with fellow Community Networks in order to put that priviledge into action.
These are the contributions we believe we can give in this field:
- on the network infrastructure side, make the LibreMesh community captive portal service-aware, by discovering local services and exposing them to the visitor
- specify the hardware feature must-haves, good-to-haves and avoids
- explore existing hardware features, strengths, drawbacks and existing bugs
- facilitate co-design sessions with other CNs on topics: useful services, community-center ux and collaborative ui design process
- prototype web portal and access-point device with relevant features
- facilitate explorations with communities to gather feedback on the prototypes
- document the process so we can collectively learn
We have a set of paths that we want to explore. Each one requires people and resources to do it. We choose to focus on people and their will to work on what they're passionate about.
We plan on using agile iterations on hardware, software and design to enable a process of co-creation with other community networks.
As this is no new topic, we plan to engage with the tech communities in order to learn and collaborate as much as possible. Many have worked on similar approaches:
Tomorrow we'll publish an action plan and budget so yall can assess if persuing this path is of priority to the SSB community.