Since 2014, Atalaya Sur has been developing a proposal for the popular appropriation of technology in Villa 20 (Buenos Aires, Argentina), for which the association has been addressing three lines of work: the fight for the Internet as a right, the democratization of the production of content and discourse, and the promotion of technological vocations through ICT workshops in one of the largest informal low-income settlements in the city of Buenos Aires (a socially and economically vulnerable population of 30,000).
Just as there is a lack of basic services and proper infrastructure, there is also no possibility of subscribing to a legal Internet provider. Atalaya Sur has developed a free public WiFi network. This strategy represented a technical challenge because there were few precedents for this type of experience, as well as a challenge in terms of usability, as the goal was to transform the market’s prevailing consumer logic and replace it with a new logic based on participation, democratic communication and technical inquiry. Using fiber optic technology, the Internet was brought to Villa 20 from a residential complex located 1.5 km away from the settlement. The installation was implemented with point-to-point links with two towers installed within the settlement and 27 public access points, lighting the main streets and certain secondary roads on which community centers are located. These devices are installed in the houses of neighbors who support the installation and expansion of the network. While planning and installing the necessary infrastructure, training courses were offered to the community. This allowed consolidating a technical team consisting mainly of young people who monitor and provide support to the network. Likewise, the portal www.villa20.org.ar was developed to promote community participation in the construction of a public space for the sharing of information, opinions and cultural content. Along with the organization of audiovisual production and community communication workshops, this portal allows promoting inclusive access to digital resources and increasing the visibility of the neighborhood’s issues and experiences. These actions were complemented with technology workshops for all ages, with a focus on telecommunications, robotics, electronics and programming. Thus, the Atalaya Sur Network allows the community to organize itself based on a shared resource which is a tool for both communication and participation. The network currently allows 800 simultaneous connections and the portal receives 4,000 visitors each day.