CAST project up for Press for More Award

February 7, 2017
Clare Cook

We have submitted the CAST project for the imec Press for More Award which aims to encourage more and better journalism. Therefore, it honors initiatives in Europe that reflect an entrepreneurial and innovative way of bringing news closer to citizens, or that engage in or enable novel forms of journalistic practice.

The laureate will be awarded a € 5,000 encouragement prize to further develop the initiative or to explore new paths to improve journalism.

Why we are hoping it will win?

The project had three aims:

  • To develop hyperlocal proximity networks using online to offline wifi technology
  • To offer real-world solutions that amplify and analyse the performance of alternative news in politically pressured environments
  • To better understand how proximity technologies can overcome a digital divide in remote communities


  • New knowledge and impact have been created around:
  • How to build hyperlocal proximity networks using online to offline wifi technology
  • Data as a transfer process between online to offline news content.
  • Improving hyperlocal content discovery and amplification.
  • Media plurality.
  • Overcoming a digital divide.
  • Digital literacy and activism.


How to build hyperlocal proximity networks using online to offline wifi technology

The structure of the system was iterated three times (see diagrams) to enable efficiency and scale. This further helped impact on the technology readiness of proximity wifi startup Wicastr.

Data as a transfer process between online to offline news content. Having this local copy and Wi-Fi hotspots allow users to rich content without a data plan. This differs from other beacon or 3G systems where online connectivity is needed.

Hyperlocal content discovery and amplification. Given that content can be served, and uploaded, from each device (such as notifications that medicines have arrived) has empowered local citizens to envisage their community differently. Erik, student Lernapat: “I would like to be lawyer so I can do something useful for my village. The internet connectivity could be improved. It is not very advanced and there is not a lot of technology here. We have wifi and modems at home but a village wide network could make everything better.”

Media plurality. Content was selected as an alternative to state-owned media. In total between June -December 4938 articles were served, 520 videos, and 12,521 images totally 22GB of data. Understanding the way villagers interacted (what was viewed, downloaded, how many times, how long you stay connected) is key to understanding the connection with complex media plurality issues what communities want, where and when. Hyperlocal analytics on usage collected per device in the village has never before been available to publishers in such detail. Hetq journalist Kristine Aghalaryan said:  “We need to write about them [the villagers]. We need to make important and work with them. We need to know what sort of problems they have and attract them to start reading.”

Overcoming a digital divide. Sustainability was built into the project by using low-cost, open-source technology and providing training and toolkits. Zarzand Yegoryan, mayor of Kamaris, said: “We are very excited to have this technology in the villages. The technology will really improve our lives and encourage people to think about a more digital future.”

Digital literacy and activism. More than a dozen training initiatives were delivered to community members of all ages. Digital literacy was improved. Lernapat (population of 2,000) engaged 12 authors and 3 editors to the site. They published more than 70 articles in categories about their village culture and sports. Kamaris and Lchashen engaged 5 editors each.

Wish us luck!

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