Helani Galpaya


Ranging from the incredible advance of teleuse documented by two surveys conducted by LIRNEasia and MIDO to the potential of ubiquitous smartphones for making the lives of Myanmar’s disabled citizens better, Helani Galpaya summarizes the work being done in Myanmar since 2013 on MTV, a business-news channel. She touches on the need to work on digital literacy and talk about how we have been informed policy in Myanmar since 2013. 12 minute interview aired on MTV
Earlier this week I was asked to speak at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. While many countries worried about connecting people for about a decade after deregulation, and only then started debating about the “softer” issues of the Internet, Myanmar is engaging in this debate now.  What kind of Internet should people of Myanmar connect to? How can Myanmarese ensure their basic human writes in their digital lives? How to make the Internet experience safe?
Text-voice readers that enable visually challenged persons to access books, websites and other content have been around in English and many other languages for years. In Myanmar too, many have attempted over the years to develop the Myanmar Language version of some of the most popular conversion engines. This week, we brought one of the world’s leaders in such software, Dr Dipendra Manocha, and his colleague Mr Piyush Chanana to Yangon to diagnose the problem and map the way forward. Dipendra and Piyush met with Myanmar National Association for the Blind (Mr. Benedict La Hkun and Mr.
LIRNEasia’s 2016 nationally representative survey of household and individual ICT use in Myanmar was released to the public at an event on Friday the 16th at the Novotel Max hotel  in Yangon. MIDO and LIRNEasia talked to the news media following the presentation of the results. We are off to Nay Pyi Taw next week to present to government officials. Slides will be posted online next week, after the local events are concluded.     The media coverage from the event is as follows: 1.

PRESENTATION: Online Freelancing

Posted by on December 6, 2016  /  0 Comments

An emerging new employment opportunity Launch of World Development Report 2016 and related LIRNEasia Research Hilton Residencies 06 December 2016 Helani Galpaya, Suthaharan Perampalam & Laleema Senanayake
Presentation for Sarvodaya Board 30 November 2016  
LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya was an invited speaker at the opening panel at the Digital Citizen Summit (http://dsummit.defindia.org) organised by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (India) and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit. The event was held in Bangalore, India 11th of November 2016.  The opening panel focused on data, citizenship and freedoms online.
LIRNEasia CEO moderated a panel on “Private Public Partnerships – Getting Them Done, Getting Them Right” at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016. The key speakers of the panel were Mr. Gajendra Haldea (Advisor, Government of Rajasthan, India), Hon. Eran Wickramarathne (Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development), Mr. Kamal Dorabawila (Principal Investment Officer, International Finance Corporation).
Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia presented ongoing work on “Open Data & Agriculture” at the “Workshop on data system processing”, held at Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI) on 29th January 2016. The meeting, chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Duminda Dissanayake, was organized under the National Food Security Program. The main objective of the discussion was to bring stakeholders with interest on providing ICT based solutions to Agriculture into a common platform and to avoid possible duplications of work. LIRNEasia was invited to present their work along with Department of Agriculture, the Coordinating Secretariat for Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI), University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), Dr. Athula Ginige-University of Western Australia, GIS solutions (PVT) Ltd, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Salasine Organization and Agricultural & Agrarian Insurance Board.
For sometime, Helani Galpaya has been communicating the message that affordability is not enough by itself for Internet use by the people of developing Asia. For example, this is what she said at a well-received presentation on SDGs at UN DESA, 8-9 June 2015. She has been saying this in a number of places and as is our custom, the slides have been placed on the web. Her conclusions were based on our research and ITU data and the proposed solutions also drew from several lines of our work. So we were not surprised to see the message being repeated in a blog and as the main headline of the A4AI newsletter.
At the Internet Governance Forum held in Brazil in November 2015, LIRNEasia CEO spoke in multiple panels on the issues related to zero rated content and net neutrality.  She was also interviewed by the Deutsche Welle Academy, the capacity building arm of the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. In the interview, Helani sets the arguments pro and against Zero Rated content. Her interview can be read here.  
In wide ranging article on multiple aspects of Facebook, the author cites Helani Galpaya’s comments on zero rating. For Facebook, releasing something, gauging reaction, and then tweaking as necessary is not only normal but also a badge of honor—after all, one of the company’s guiding principles is “Done is better than perfect.” When I ask Zuckerberg about the controversy, he says, “Internet.org is working. We’ve learned a lot from our efforts already.
Helani Galpaya and Shamistra Soysa participated in the second IGF (2007) held in Rio. But in 2015 our engagement was an order of magnitude higher. Helani participated in two Main Sessions and five workshops. She also spoke at a side event organized by Deutsche Welle for media personnel from Africa. Tuesday, November 10 9:00am-10:30am WS 126 Can Internet rights and access goals be reconciled?
At the 2015 Stockholm Internet Forum that just completed, I moderated one of the best attended unconference sessions titled “Zero rating violates net neutrality. So what?“. The discussion I moderated was heated, with a spectrum of opinions being expressed.  Some said that zero rated content simply creates a ghetto-ized version of the Internet for the poor and therefore should not be allowed.
The raging debate on Zero Rated content is, for the most part, taking place in a vacuum of evidence. A successful campaign by activists  ensured that many of the 1.2 million responses sent to TRAI’s proposed net neutrality regulations in April 2015 called for banning internet.org (Facebook’s Zero Rated offering, now called Free Basics).  The fear that the poor who use the free version of the internet offered by Facebook will not use anything else but Facebook has been one of the harms many advocates put forth.
LIRNEasia CEO participated in two more events at the ITU Telecom World 2015 held in Budapest, Hungary. The ICT Economic and Industry Round Table aimed to look to the future to imagine with digital development would be.  Helani spoke about state investment into the backhaul infrastructure, and about private sector entry into connecting the unconnected through zero rating. The other panel today was titled The Data Rich, Decision Making Poor: How to use Big Data for Improved Government Action.  Helani showcased LIRNEasia’s Big Data research and our research inputs into the the Western Region Megapolis plan in Sri Lanka.