Neighborhood Nodes: Key to Global Freedom and Prosperity

descriptionformThe means to solve all our economic and social problems exists using off-the-shelf technology and freely available software. The open source movement and the right information is the real key. Neighborhoods can grow all the food they need, educate themselves to provide the skills and services they require, care for their young, old and ill without intervention or assistance from national governments. With globally available information and knowledge, we can educate ourselves to fulfill all our basic social needs locally. Trade can be focused on travel and the acquisition of advanced communication technologies used to manage resources and stay in touch worldwide. This article will explore this and suggest answers.

As this is written there are many who advocate a return to a more primitive society dependent on locally grown food and self-generated resources for virtually all the needs of daily living. I cannot dispute the viability of this notion strongly enough. The great cities and dense urban areas have come to us by a misguided orientation, yes, but they do exist. We need to find our way to a solution for the future that includes the survival of all the world’s peoples, in spite of the fact that they have arrived in the present without a long term plan for the future.  Reducing our level of industrial reliance cannot mean eliminating the many advances we have achieved, but winnowing them to the few that truly serve the greater good.  In spite of the repeated declarations about too many people and too few resources, this has always been the sociopathic scheming of a privileged elite. Peace and cooperation will stabilize our societies in a higher lifestyle where people can and will devote themselves to personal growth and experience, delaying families and having fewer children. The pursuit of knowledge and experiences will solve the problems of the wasteful consumer society, a legacy of using shining baubles to drive the people to work for the elite.

Indeed, global division of labor and planning facilitated by a defined communications infrastructure can eliminate waste and create abundance everywhere. Trade focused on travel and the acquisition of advanced communication technologies for local use will allow smart management of resources and enable worldwide travel as part of everyone’s education and cultural experience. Prosperity is the result of planning and cooperation, in all cases it is based on division of labor among participating  parties. All that is required is the will to do it. Both geographic and communities of interest resonate to a common purpose, and it is these purposes that calibrate the economic pulse of our global society. Geographic resonances based on populations centers are composed of multiple smaller units around a center. That center has been the historical basis of economic advance throughout history because it is where the assignment of the division of labor among all those participants is resolved. Strengthening this at all levels with advanced communications from the neighborhood up will pay huge dividends for society. Cities are the macro organizations for global alignment, providing the basis for true agreement to focus our efforts planet -wide toward full education, heath care and the economic activity needed to make it all possible.

The Neighborhood Node: Key to Global Freedom and Prosperity

nnnlogo159x78We can define an important software hardware package and invite a worldwide effort to make it real. After due consideration it is my belief that the most important project we can develop is the Neighborhood Node, a combination of mission critical services created using open source software carefully specified hardware configurations available from existing suppliers. The site linked above is rather old, having been created when Wifi was in its infancy and required desktop computers and external antenna to work. Today is many generations advanced and the protocols and hardware, both for fixed and mobile use are so much more effective that it is too great to be covered in this article.

This has become very important recently, as the US Appeals Court ended the FCC’s Open Internet rules, known as Net Neutrality, creating a situation where content restrictions may become common place. This opened the way for Internet providers to charge content companies a premium for increased speeds. Those intent on control and genocide of the majority of the world’s population are using non-confrontational strategies to erode all the defenses and natural rights peole have used to survive throughout our existence on the planet. Ending Net Neutrality is another step in this direction, allowing them to use money to deny access to their perceived enemies, the poor and those who refuse to cooperate in their ghastly ambitions. The right to prevent anyone they choose from access to advanced technology is their practical agenda. We cannot let that happen.

2405This situation has been predicted for several generations, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four  is for all intents and purposes true in today’s Britain,  and Robert Theobald’s  “An Alternative Future for America“, where he proposed that the unlimited expansion of the consumer society would lead to ever increasing inequality as the growth of global consumerism priced the non-urban population out of progress. This has happened, although the invention of the Internet has increased productivity tremendously, we see a growing divide between the technical economy’s capable workers and those who lack education and opportunity. Add to this a political force that schemes to reduce the population through attrition of war, disease, poverty and various types of persecution, and Theobald looks amazingly prescient. During his life his work was not well received in the planning offices of the world, although he popularized such now-accepted concepts as “networking,” “win/win,” “systemic thinking,” and “communications era”, he continues to little known.

The current Internet utilization often requires consumers to obtain information basic to the operation of purchased good, such as the many small applications that are server based, driver installations and even assembly instructions. So while the Internet is a blessing, our dependence on remote data to run the simplest process in our lives is the Achilles Heel of self-sufficiency and even self-government.  We are vulnerable to great economic and social damage if we lose the net and few people seem concerned, or at least we do not hear about that concern. This issue affects all of our society. It is hard to find any economic activity not using the net for critical aspects of its deployment, even when the only net-based component is the availability of instructions to operate and maintain the device.

Digital convergence is now the rule of our lives, making almost all information accessible by computer through the Internet. Easy for regular people to use, the net is also easy for large institutions with super computers, like the NSA, National Labs, or the military to change or rearrange the “facts” required for any policy imaginable. For this reason, leaving mission critical information on remote servers makes all of society vulnerable to vast deceits and manipulations by an ambitious minority determined to control society by coercion.

Full Service Internet Nodes

nnodemastIt is not that a big of a problem to solve, but it will take a focused international effort by many talented software engineers to fix. We should be able to design a full service local Internet node using opens source software and off the shelf components that will enable whole neighborhoods to connect whether the Internet is up or down to access content through a network dedicated to this concept.

One of the beautiful things about open source software and the Internet is that it is cumulative, IE: each advance is shared globally, enabling effort by many people to around the world to compound quickly into a finished project taking thousands of hours of developer time.  Now add to this compounding the effect of ever more powerful and less expensive hardware, and you get the picture.

For casual readers with little to no experience regarding the process of using open source software there is a nice slideshow available that explains the development process.  This helps everyone to appreciate what is involved with this type of project, and the real need for quality intelligence to be involved, someone with serious concentration to project manage it into existence. However, since it is open source and has a global audience with literally thousands of interested developers available in University settings, it can be done. Someone will see it as a fun project.

Specifying the Full Service Internet Node

The Neighborhood Node is organized and run by a member owned-association that employes technology similar to an ISP to connect its members to the local node network.  Available technologies range from computer modems with acoustic couplers over telephone lines, television cable (CATV), Ethernet cable, wireless Ethernet (wi-fi), microwave, laser transmission and fiber optics.

Although these are functional, the price performance of current WIFI systems makes most others into special purpose, situational solutions. The Node can use WIFI to function a wireless internet service provider for its membership, with a network based on commonplace Wi-Fi wireless mesh networking, or proprietary equipment designed to operate over open 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 4.9, 5.2, 5.4, 5.7, and 5.8 GHz bands or licensed frequencies in the UHF band (including the MMDS frequency band) and LMDS.

The node can get its access from several sources, copper wires to provide ADSL, cable modem, ISDN is some markets and, of course, fiber-optics is preferred when available. Wireless such as microwave, cellular systems and satellite access can be used. If a group of Nodes form at the same time they want to create a central transit node serving them with higher-speed DSL (such as single-pair high-speed digital subscriber line ), Ethernet, metropolitan Ethernet, gigabit Ethernet, Frame Relay, ISDN Primary Rate Interface, ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and synchronous optical networking (SONET).  This will usually be based in a colocation provider with access to major backbone (Tier 3) networks.

Hosting and email services will be built-in to the node, although it may be based on a cloud service from global providers like Gmail, Yahoo and others. Usually though, a mailbox provider hosts electronic mail domains with access to storage for mail boxes using email servers to send, receive, accept, and store email for end users. Mail may be hosted by implementing Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and possibly providing access to messages through Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), the Post Office Protocol, Webmail, or a proprietary protocol at the transit colocation site for convenience to the Neighborhood Nodes.

nninvasivesecuritySince the Neighborhood Node is not an ISP, its colocation transit ISP will be legally required (e.g. via CALEA in the U.S.) to allow law enforcement agencies to monitor some or all of the information transmitted from and to the ISP. Furthermore, in some countries ISPs are subject to monitoring by intelligence agencies. In the US, a controversial plan known as PRISM provides for broad monitoring of Internet users traffic and has raised concerns about potential violation of the privacy protections in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Modern ISPs integrate a wide array of surveillance and packet sniffing equipment into their networks, which then feeds the data to law-enforcement/intelligence networks (such as DCSNet in the United States, or SORM[22] in Russia) allowing monitoring of Internet traffic in real time. However, since the Neighborhood Node is a private association, internal traffic that does not exit to the Internet will not be subject to this scrutiny.

Less than ten years ago you would have needed a colocation site with a variety of servers with specific hardware to set-up a complex configuration offering the services required for a Neighborhood Node to do what we are specifying here. Today, because of advances in virtual servers and cloud computing or virtual distributed processing, we can set up virtual servers to emulate all those specialized hardware configurations. This is cool, but even cooler is that it is so efficient, allowing us to expand or shrink the resources for each server or process at will.

 

NNdiagramTo visualize the Neighborhood Node, imagine a box with server racks able to function as cloud-based edge servers or many virtual servers for local use. Combining these capabilities into a single mass-produced box design that can be contracted to small computer assembly operations wherever the capability exists would create jobs and enable the local residential and business users to keep their communications costs down and their money in town.  Content could be localized along with server-based services such as VOIP useable with smartphones on WIFI. The full service local Internet nodes can out-perform existing common carriers on many levels, including streaming content from many providers. The cost of storage and ram for virtual servers has fallen and distributing costs for high technology is going to get easier as the hardware gets less expensive and the number of users increase. Using globally supported open source software and standardized hardware gives the small business access to scale allowing them to compete with big corporations, particularly when the pace of change exceeds the capacity of bureaucracies to  respond in a timely way. These reasons and many others make specifying the full service local Internet node a worthy effort for anyone wanting to strengthen their home, neighborhood and town. We can and should design and build this box.

There are many different software projects that need  to be specified.  Stated above is the range of capabilities and services that may be needed , but a starting point for this discussion is the open source wifi access point management system required to enable a neighborhood wide wifi network with passwords and user specified/developed content and services.

The access point is within a management system, and currently available systems include a Postgre-based system that is supported and connected to a community of open source developers. This is their (arabic) site and the graphic below is from that location:

After the WIFI network- we need Services and Content

Now that we have proposed the basic wifi project, we can discuss the services and content that should be resident locally, either in the same server bank or local WAN.  Since our basic goal is to enable the neighborhood to have wifi with content and services if the Internet is down, we will look at open source-based infrastructure that can be used for this purpose.

There are four clients illustrated above and the worldwide market begins with the smartphone as the volume leader, with progressively fewer tablets, laptops and desktops in neighborhoods. Smartphones are dominated by iPhone and the Android operating systems with downloadable apps enabling a wide variety of functions. Our most import value-added service for smartphones has to be a local VoIP server with an app for the above mentioned smartphones. Using this app the user will be able to call his neighbors or others within the neighborhood node network.

Build local telephone networks using freely available software – Voice over Internet Protocol

Voice is the first level of communication between people and it should be the great equalizer for the divergent levels of technical expertise within every neighborhood.  A highly rated client for the neighborhood users is Linphone,  an internet phone or Voice Over IP phone (VoIP). It will enable you to can communicate freely with people over the internet, with voice, video, and text instant messaging. Using the SIP protocol, an open standard for internet telephony,  Linphone can be used with any SIP VoIP operator, including the free SIP audio/video service from Linphone. It is free-software (or open-source), you can download and redistribute it freely, and it is available for desktop computers: Linux, Windows, MacOSX, and for mobile phones: Android, iPhone, Blackberry.

The local server to host this is another matter. Neighborhood users are accustomed to using full service providers that they pay each month and the service expectations they have will not be reduced. Although the server software is free, the time and effort to make it work is what thousands of developers count on for their income. For this reason the free open source software is as good as that used by commercial infrastructure providers, in fact many use the same software and have hired staffs that maintain it full time. One such package is Kamailio, which has been developing this package since 2001. It is open source and it will do everything needed. Visit their site and see what is possible.

Neighborhood Node becomes a Local Economy using Associations to Power Barter

Neighborhood Associations that deliver a range of services for their members can add broadband wifi as part of the member services. Additionally, local currency software can empower local businesses, and shopkeepers can participate with a node to offer indexed exchange trading programs. Smartphones can connect to their local node to do trades and make arrangements for work locally…no money involved.

Everybody has value to trade, and many people have a lifetime of expertise that can be directly applied to solve these problems. However, they need to use their abilities to support themselves, so creating liquidity is the key to moving forward with new projects. Products and services that require a lot of local labor, for instance, farming is labor intensive but everybody has to eat, so if there is an arrangement for transportation from where people are to where they can spend time helping where the crops are grown can be a source of trade credit to liquify the system. Entertainment venues are also big contributors to value for local traders. Barter and trade credit systems are well developed and easily implemented when there is buy in from enough businesses…and that time is here.

Using community infrastructure to enable barter using the local node as the base for these exchanges is a natural.   A general discussion regarding this, referred to as “ the field of non-commercial mutual credit software”  is at the International Journal of Community Currency Research site.  A PDF is available for download also.  The PDF discussion is from 2010 and cites issues that may be resolved today.  Of special interest from that is the discussion about the Tauschriing Network in Germany. The  website says the group, with more than 360 members, has regular meet-ups in public locations to trade personal services and swap real goods. According to Slater, the Tauschring was using the Cyclos platform for accounting in 2010, and no information about the  current software is available online.

Cyclos was developed in South America and is on SourceForge open-source developers platform.  The description from that site is:  “Cyclos offers a complete on-line banking system with additional modules: such as e-commerce and communication tools. Cyclos is available in more than ten languages and used worldwide by many Organizations and communities. The Cyclos platform permits a de-centralization of banking services that can stimulate local trade and development.  Cyclos is used for Microfinance institutions, local banks (in Developing countries) and complementary currency systems like LETS, Barter networks and Time banks. Cyclos is a project of the Dutch non profit organization STRO.”

According to Slater, the Cyclos software is accounting-centric package that needs  a more user friendly interface to make it the optimal trading platform. Slater suggests in 2010 that a  combination the Cylos software and the Drupal Complementary Currencies Module would be an ideal set-up. Now, four years later we should see something much better.

The barter system is a major project, but in combination with the Neighborhood Node the scale is attainable to make it work. The most obvious fulfillment of this idea would be an application for smartphones designed to work with the Neighborhood Nodes that would integrate wifi detection with a barter system.

A system that enables local trade specialists to facilitate liquidity at the same time as it empowers individuals could make the network thrive. How this can be done remains to be seen, but one implementation might be to allow neighborhood merchants to host trading accounts where they can feature trade goods via webcam so anyone seeking a particular item could identify it visually. Feedback features can help users asses value.  A cyclos backend combined with a simple content management system with accounts for traders might be able to really stimulate local business.

Because of smartphones with WIFI, we can organize a neighborhood node barter system so that anyone with a smartphone can use it. The most obvious fulfillment of this idea would be an application for smartphones designed to work with the Neighborhood Nodes that would integrate wifi detection with a barter system. It could scan local routers to find traders, the traders can have them login to their files and see what is available for trade, we can even have webcams to see the items. Instead of pawn shops we can have electronic trade shops  where people can put their tradable items to be seen by anyone with a need and a smartphone.  There are barter apps now that use the instant messaging protocols to to connect people who want to trade. One called Bondsy is in development, has investors and a good idea. But at writing of this article their website is unavailable and the latest news is from 2013.  Another barter app is called Swappy, and it can be downloaded to your smartphone now. What is interesting is that both of these apps exploit the messaging features of the internet to facilitate their barter systems. The VOIP systems discussed above include an instant messaging systems in their architecture, so this cold be the best way to create a barter app for the Neighborhood Nodes, that way the batter features can be independent of Internet connectivity.

The service package of the Neighborhood Nodes becomes significant when compounded citywide and then regional, nationally and globally. Using node-based services we can can organize global talent exchanges to share knowledge across countries and continents.  Traveling technicians can have a place to stay,  plenty to eat, local trade credits to spend while they set-up a node for a community. Once installed it can be maintained remotely, and that is all it takes to provide a foundation for longterm growth. New technologies need someone to show the way. We should be those wayshowers.

If there’s a group needing help, another group could help them from a distance with their knowledge. Indeed, communities can be there for each other, especially since we are already motivated by a vision of peace and light, and backed by a plan and a growing dynamic team that can do what it takes to make the technology work for all people. They will be the examples to others and an inspiration for those willing to take part in that too.  Leadership should be assumed by doers and they should not be blocked, but encouraged to create and build systems that exceed the full service Internet node specs.  Adopting common sense goals can enable all who want to contribute to achieve real results. The schools created by the philosophers of Greece promoted thought instead of “learning”. Maybe we can revive that idea some way… let inspired teachers become recognized so they can teach, moving from community to community, being paid with what people have to trade.

The Global Economics of Neighborhood Nodes

Understanding the economics of change that the Neighborhood Node would bring is discussed in Holistic Economics, where the artificial restraints and incentives of the political economy are examined in the context of rational, sustainable, social goals. A good overview on this is provided by Ivan Klinec of Bratislava.  The node structure provides the open feed back these economic theories require, especially since it can connect globally to create a planetary model of the human community. Each node will have a model that allows each user to know the global status of their interests.

Jered Ferrie wrote Toward a Holistic Economics while a student a Simon Fraser University, in it he explains “Mainstream economics is fundamentally flawed in its measurement of: (1) the value of labour, (2) the cost of natural resources and (3) the health of the economy as assessed by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Obviously, solving the worlds problems is not simply a matter of juggling economic concepts, but the adoption of a more holistic approach to economics would certainly help to alleviate some of the extreme environmental destruction and inequity we now face.” It is a nice start on a difficult subject.

Professor Holly Bell has offered her ideas in a paper you can read.  Global Envision website has many posts related to our discussion here with a category called mobile commerce.  John Thakara has much to say about these topics with an emphasis on bioregional solutions, a way of looking at our world that is consistent with the use of neighborhood nodes. He cites on his website the 12 Principles Guiding an Holistic, True Cost, Economy taken from The True cost Economy: Toward a Model To End Cheater Economics, Ensure Fair Play, & Long Term Survival, a PDF paper by Randy Hayes, Executive Director of Foundation Earth. These twelve principles are rooted in the limitations perceived by the conventional scientific community, without consideration for the suppressed technology now commonly understood to exist. The principles stand this test without effort though, because they address the conservation concerns of all of us regardless of the availability of free energy, materialization technology or travel via portals. Saving and restoring the planet depends on our taking responsibility for what has happened in the past.

Perhaps the most complete narrative about the holistic economy is Transitioning to Holistic Economics a compilation of a variety of thinkers work. These all explore the relationship between exploiting the natural resources and taking responsibility for the entire planet.

What is missing from these visions of a Holistic Economy is the impact of global communications and the open source movement that has driven important philosophical breakthroughs of our time.  This has created the economics of the neighborhood node, allowing it to emerge as a comprehensive communications solution that can reach sufficient scale to assure cost dominance over competitive commercial systems. Until this type of device enters the communications infrastructure, commercial systems will be able to effectively drive out wifi as a competitor for subscriber-based Internet services.

The other economic factor driving this is the expansion of mobile device use , which is directly related to the potential of neighborhood node adoption. As more people become dependent of the use of mobile devices they will become aware of their reliance on networks that require a significant portion of their income for their devices to be functional.  Seeing a way to increase their economic welfare and safety that works with their existing tools will make adoption of a local first strategy sensible. The nodes offer a flexible way to create communities, using voluntary association with nodes that can interpenetrate many neighborhoods with their signal, allowing people to use services that are convenient to their regular travel or other routines.

Conclusion

We can solve all our economic and social problems exists using off-the-shelf  state-of-the-art technology and freely available software. The open source software movement and the availability of the right information make it a straight forward proposition. Local communities can grow all the food they need, educate themselves to provide the skills and services they require, care for their young, old and ill without intervention or assistance from national governments. With globally available information and knowledge, we can educate ourselves to fulfill all our basic social needs locally. Trade can be focused on travel and the acquisition of advanced communication technologies used to manage resources and stay in touch worldwide.  The great cities and dense urban areas can find technologies and systems to assure the survival of all their residents and create surpass enough to restore the natural environment around them.

Committing to an information rich cooperative culture does not mean eliminating the many advances we have achieved, but selecting  the few that truly serve the greater good.  The repeated declarations about shortages, too many people and too few resources, we know that this has always been the sociopathic scheming of a privileged elite. Peace and cooperation will stabilize our societies in a higher lifestyle where people can and will devote themselves to personal growth and experience, delaying families and having fewer children. The pursuit of knowledge and experiences will solve the problems of the wasteful consumer society, a legacy of using consumer goods to drive the people to work for purposes only known to a small minority of the population..

In fact, global division of labor and planning using  advanced communications infrastructure can eliminate waste and create abundance everywhere. Avoiding the use of centralized planning and instead relying on real time feed back projected into the future communities can develop multiyear plans to grow the lives of all their community members. Using this they can seek trade focused on travel, education and the acquisition of advanced communication technologies for local use to manage resources so worldwide travel is part of everyone’s education and cultural experience. All that is required is to make the choice to do it. Both geographic and communities of interest resonate to a common purpose, and it is these purposes that calibrate the economic pulse of our global society. Geographic resonances based on populations centers are composed of multiple smaller units around a center. That center has been the historical basis of economic advance throughout history because it is where the assignment of the division of labor among all those participants is resolved. Strengthening this at all levels with advanced communications from the neighborhood up will pay huge dividends for society.

Cities are the macro organizations for global alignment, providing the basis for true agreement to focus our efforts planet -wide toward full education, heath care and the economic activity needed to make it all possible. The key to building strong cities is strong neighborhoods, and the ket to that is organized effective communications. The Neighborhood Node can do this. It empowers local populations to express their unique perspective and still be a cooperative unit in the whole. It is the technology that can set the stage for a freer and more prosperous society worldwide.

Dane Arr
May 2015

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