Center for A Rural Alternative
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Telecomm Applications That Benefit the Rural Community
The convenient, high-quality communication that will be available through the network will make practical a much higher level of economic organization. The four network communities are now planning an integrated but decentralized economic development project, based on value-added food products like goat cheese and locally processed fruit. Project development and construction, transportation of products, and marketing will all be coordinated by the network.
Access to medical care is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes impractical for the elderly and seriously ill in the more isolated villages. The four communities will be connected to the Primary Care Clinic in the nearby city of Ocoa by audio and video. Four residents of each community will be trained to facilitate communication between villagers and the clinic doctor, operating the computer equipment and acting as the doctor’s hands. Their training will include basic medical procedures, such as taking blood pressures, giving injections, and dispensing medication under the doctor's supervision. The project will emphasize preventive care, including AIDS education. National educational institutions have expressed interest in participating in the training program for the doctor's assistants, which would include an on-line component.
Landline telephone service is rarely available away from cities and infrastructure corridors, and cellular service is spotty at best. VoIP technology offers a low-investment way to provide telephone service, and also generate revenue for the community telecenter.