Getting connected to the internet in Greece is not as easy as one may think. Whilst there are many places to get online in big towns and cities, as soon as you venture out to the countryside staying connected to 21st century becomes a serious challenge.
Network infrastructure is still under development in many rural areas and the cost of having high-speed internet connection remains high. As a result, there’s a widening digital divide in the country that slows progress in vital areas such as civic participation, health, education, and economic growth.
Deciding to respond to the social problem of digital exclusion, a group of friends from Sarantaporo, a small village in Northern Greece, has managed to build a community wireless network that provides free internet access to 15 villages in the municipality of Elassona.
Sarantaporo.gr is an open source wireless mesh networking system that relies greatly on voluntary work both for its development and maintenance. Some volunteers are involved in the project by simply installing an antenna on their roof. Others, more actively engaged with the project, are responsible for sustaining the network by hosting meetings and answering technical questions.
The group, in association with local educational and cultural clubs, runs regular informational events in order to promote the benefits of digital literacy to the community. They also keep residents updated about the progress of open source wireless networks, and encourage volunteerism.
In these challenging times, the benefits of grassroots initiatives such as Sarantaporo.gr are vast. By having access to the internet, these, previously underserved, communities can improve not only the quality of life of their members but also facilitate the kind of social cohesion that strengthens entire societies.
How we can help:
Spread the word: Tell your friends and family about the inspiring work Sarantaporo.gr is doing and follow the group’s latest news and activities on their Facebook page.