The project is a collaboration led by Elizabeth Belding (UC Santa Barbara) and in partnership with Marisa Duarte (Arizona State),  Ellen Zegura (Georgia Tech) and Jennifer Nevarez (Community Learning Network). 


The project addresses the dual goal of improving Internet access through innovative network architectures designed for underserved or technologically and economically marginalized communities, while also creating social structures to build local capacity toward regular digital content creation.  The work will support Internet connectivity and education for Native American communities in Northern New Mexico, which have some of the lowest Internet access and usage rates amongst all U.S. ethnic groups.  To solve Internet access and content relevance challenges in these communities, PuebloConnect re-envisions Internet deployment and provisioning through the combination, interaction, and innovation of middle and last mile technologies.  As a part of this project, the team will work with local partners to deploy, measure, and study TV white space spectrum access links to points within the communities.  To ensure the relevance and success of innovative technical solutions, the team will use iterative participatory action research, in which community members are engaged in the planning, implementation, and dissemination of the work.


network architecture, particpatory action research, ICT4D, rural computing

ARORA: Using Augmented Reality to Gamify a Universal Social Learning Intervention

The project is a collaboration led by Morgan Vigil-Hayes (NAU, SICCS) and in partnership with Giovanni Castillo (NAU, Communications) and Ann Collier (NAU, Psychology). 


Based on recent research that investigates scalable behavioral health interventions and therapeutic best practices for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth and adolescents, we propose ARORA, a mobile phone application that guides users through activities that are designed to develop resiliency through coping skills, social skills, and a sense of strength. The activities used in ARORA are introduced to users as part of a game where users interact with each other, their physical environment, and augmented reality objects—computer sounds and graphics that appear as if they are present with users in the real world. Importantly, we will work with a community advisory board (CAB) of AI/AN behavioral health professionals, educators, and community leaders to ensure that the activities and the visualizations for the pilot version of ARORA are culturally relevant and appropriate. In order to ensure that ARORA is usable even in communities that have poor or no Internet access, we also plan to develop a prototype of a community hosted version of the ARORA software that can operate over a local area WiFi or cellular network (i.e., 5G or small-scale LTE). 

network architecture, mHealth, gamification, rural computing, ICT4D, augmented reality, social emotional learning intervention, community-based participatory research

Identifying Challenges and Opportunities for Designing Culturally Relevant Behavioral mHealth Interventions for Hopi Youth

The project is a collaboration led by Morgan Vigil-Hayes (NAU SICCS) in partnership with Co-PIs Alisse Ali-Joseph (NAU AIS) and Darold Joseph (NAU COE).


Native American (NA) youth ages 10-24 years old experience significant behavioral health disparities with a suicide rate significantly greater than any other population. Analysis of traditional behavioral health interventions and treatments reveal that they may not be accessible due to geographic distance and cost. Evaluations of existing interventions reveal that cultural relevance is critical to the success of interventions in NA populations. As access to smartphones increases, mobile health (mHealth) interventions are gaining popularity as a new means for promoting behavioral health and well-being that overcome many of the geographic and cost barriers associated with traditional interventions. However, researchers have yet to investigate whether these interventions address the cultural relevance component that is critical to intervention success with NA youth. In this project, we will work with the Hopi Youth Opportunity Initiative to employ a Participatory Action Research approach to answer the following research questions: (i) How are behavioral mHealth apps perceived by Hopi youth and community stakeholders with respect to cultural relevance? and (ii) How do existing mHealth apps align with or deviate from Hopi values? We will start by conducting a series of focus groups and interviews with Hopi youth and community stakeholders centered on participants’ perspectives on and experiences with existing behavioral mHealth apps. In particular, we will focus on having participants discuss how existing behavioral mHealth interventions align with, deviate from, or ignore their cultural values. We will use a grounded theory approach to identify common themes surrounding Hopi perspectives on the design of behavioral mHealth apps. Using the common themes as a framework, we will survey existing behavioral mHealth apps and identify how they succeed or fail to be culturally relevant to NA youth and their larger support networks. Importantly, this survey will enable future interdisciplinary teams to co-design more effective mHealth interventions.

network architecture, mHealth, Indigenous computing, community interventions, rural computing, ICT4D, social emotional learning intervention, community-based participatory research

News Deserts

As media agencies consolidate into larger monolithic conglomerations, many areas in the U.S. are left without news representation that is locally generated and controlled. Simultaneously, social media platforms have risen as news platforms where individuals either generate informal news broadcasts or disseminate formal and informal news broadcasts using social media accounts. We investigate this phenomenon through an analysis of Twitter and Instagram data collected in the past and in 2018 to characterize how social media is filling the information gaps in these places.

social computing, Twitter, Instagram, network analysis, data analysis, news deserts

Indigenous Uses of the Internet

Indigenous peoples all over the world have experienced marginalization as a result of genocide, cultural persecution, violence, political oppression, and intergenerational trauma. One of the ways that these traumas have been overcome is through cultural resilience and revitalization that facilitates political action and social movements. To this end, the Internet and its platforms have been enablers of these actions and as a consequence, are being used by Indigenous peoples as decolonizing technologies. This work seeks to characterize how Indigenous cultural resilience manifests and foments as organized movements towards decolonization on the Internet.

social computing, network traffic analysis, Twitter, Instagram, Web, network analysis, data analysis, grounded theory

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