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The BRCK - Designing From the Rest of the World

Ushahidi is from Kenya; we know how hard it can be to get connected. Those who lack connectivity are at a disadvantage to their more connected peers. Yet the equipment used to connect in Kenya or India is the same as that used in New York and London, even though the conditions are completely different. The modems used around the world were designed for the USA more than a decade ago. They assume ubiquitous electricity connection, years of fiber infrastructure, and are designed for a desktop computer sitting in an office. That scenario is outdated. It’s not the use-case for the one billion additional people who are expected to get online by 2015. At Ushahidi, we face this problem all the time, we live it. So we set out to redesign the way we connect to the Internet for the developing world, and thus created The BRCK. We learned how important it is for solutions to come from the places where the problems reside. A maker culture of problem solvers is burgeoning in the developing world.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How did a software company build a hardware product out of Nairobi? What did it take to create the platform to be able to design and prototype a hardware solution in an environment where no consumer electronics are developed, designed, or manufactured. How did we leverage a global team to bring the insight, but maintain connected to our developing world roots.
  2. What is the future of technology in and the development of Africa? How will this growing continent connect to the world through information technology. Who are the big players and how will African companies play a role in developing their own solutions.
  3. What is going on with tech and entrepreneurship in Africa right now? We will go into the "Silicon Savannah" and the entrepreneurial culture growing in Africa. Ushahidi founded the iHub, the BRCK, Maker Faire Africa, Pivot East, and the Savannah Fund. We can explain how it all fits together and how a groundswell of technologists are solving problems in one of the hardest environments in the world.
  4. How does the BRCK work and why is it a game changer? We will go into details about how the BRCK is a redesign of a standard household product, the modem and router, but for the changing way we all connect to the web. We will talk about the development process, the product, and our expectations for distribution. The BRCK is both a mifi device on steroids as well as an onramp for the Internet of Things, with a super smart data management system running the backend.
  5. Why is making a hardware product in Kenya such a big deal? Hardware is hard. By showing that we can design and make a hardware product from Kenya we can prove to others it is possible as well. We want to see more hardware solutions, we want to build a maker culture, the platform, and infrastructure for the inventors from Africa to bring their solutions into reality.



Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Strategy, Ushahidi

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