PuebloConnect: Expanding Internet Access and Content Relevance in Tribal Communities

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

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

Using Mobile Crowdsensing to Track Storm Systems

The project is a collaboration led by Dr. Morgan Vigil-Hayes and Dr. Delbert Willie.


Currently, storm system monitoring relies on expensive radar equipment. While detection systems are highly accurate, their cost can be prohibitive to universal deployment. This project aims to identify a relationship between storm systems and cellular signal data that might be used as a means for crowdsensing storm systems in an affordable and pervasive manner. 

mobile crowdsensing, environment sensing, pervasive computing, network characterization, LTE, UMTS, GSM

Deploying Small-scale LTE for Last-mile Internet Access in the Colorado Plateau

This project is in collaboration with Mural Net, a non-profit NGO that seeks to bridge the homework gap in rural communities through the deployment of easy-to-manage, ready-to-deploy small-scale LTE ​networks that operate over the 2.5 GHz EBS spectrum. Dr. Vigil-Hayes has partnered with Mural Net to function as a point of presence for demonstrating a live version of the network, evaluating the learnability of system deployment and management, and for staging equipment used in proof-of-concept demonstrations. 

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