connect / 2015

Community at Home Box

Community at Home Box

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Data Roads Foundation

The Internet today divides communities by empowering remote network owners and information services to overpower local community businesses and resources. It creates a growing digital divide between those who can afford monopoly rents on broadband channel access versus those who cannot. Community at Home (Box) breaks that negative cycle by providing full connection and data services within each home, growing organically into neighborhood and community-wide networks, one household at a time.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Northeast Los Angeles (NELA)

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Apply for the LA CityLink RFP

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Voting rates by race
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Median travel time to work
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Number of public transit riders
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located near transit)
  • Total number of local social media friends and connections (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)
  • Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

A lot of the open standards hardware and open source software required for these community mesh network deployments already exist today. We just need to package it all together, in a way that makes it easy for anyone without network expertise to install it in their own homes or offices. This will initially be in the form of the Community at Home Box – a single package configured with everything needed to provide home and community data services over a small home network.

We will also provide legal templates for communities to incorporate their own utility cooperatives or community welfare networks, all under existing IRS 501(c) nonprofit definitions, so that local experts can be paid for their professional services in connecting and maintaining these community networks. We have a pilot project starting in the Northeast Los Angeles region, NELA-Shares.Net, where we will test our templates and open source tools in real world deployments. We encourage all other LA County communities to start their own Local-Shares.Net cooperatives as well, to connect directly with each other. The downtown LA community in particular has great access to multiple global carrier transit providers, at carrier neutral facilities like One Wilshire, where connecting through neighbors directly will be much cheaper than through AT&T or Time Warner.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

  1. new family homes with online access to local resources, where nonexistent or unaffordable prior.

  2. $ reductions amortized over life of network hardware, including local institutions and infrastructure.

  3. $ additional gross pay for local technology jobs.

  4. of new startup businesses attracted.

  5. civic, social business startups that declare community broadband networks as a primary reason for LA home office selection.

  6. additional telecommuting and public transportation users.

  7. additional annual tourists and technical conferences.

  8. Reduction in response times for government and emergency services.

  9. more volunteers due to additional free time off commutes.

  10. $ more charitable donations per capita from better income reliability, via increases to local technology industry.

  11. more voters turnout due to greater in-community discussion of issues

  12. added square meters of public area where limited WiFi is freely available.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research