Governments, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs have tried for many years to come up with a way to bridge the gap between communities with access to digital technology and who do not have. Unfortunately, none of their efforts has offered any tangible global solution. Lucky enough, WiderNet has developed eGranary Pocket Library that provides massive data so that people can search whatever they want without necessarily having an Internet connection. egranary taps into the power of laptops, tablets and smartphones to deliver offline information and educational resource to billions of people all over the world. egranary is suitable for developing countries that do not have an Internet connection because it stores data on a hard drive.
WiderNet has partnered with thousands of publishers such as Khan Academy, Project Gutenberg as well as Wikipedia since 2001. WiderNet copies all the contents of their websites and transfers them to a searchable offline database. It already has approximately 32 million documents stored on a 4 TB hard drive that users can access without an Internet connection.
There are other projects that also provide information to places that do not have an Internet connection. These include Internet.org by Facebook and Project Loon by Google. These two projects use beams to transfer data, and that’s what differentiates them from eGranary.
WiderNet had worked on a project similar to the two before, but it used the satellite to update information in its digital libraries. However, it realized this method was expensive, and the demand was very low. There were around 300 installations but only about six people were willing to pay to get the updates. Furthermore, the cost of having an Internet connection at home in the U.S. is about $50 a month which is almost equivalent to the payment for the updates. This project was therefore practically impossible, and that’s what led to the development of egranary.
Currently, there are over 1,000 installations and millions of users of egranary around the world. From these installations, users access the information through a proxy server on a standard web browser just as they would on the Internet.
Cliff Missen, the co-founder and director of the WiderNet project, said they are linking with ministries of health, ministries of education to obtain more data. He said they are also working to create a chip version of the libraries, and for that reason they have launched a $12,000 Indiegogo campaign.