Design Engineering
Showcase

Fallback

Students
Khulood Alawadi, YiFan Hsieh, Bahareh Saboktakin & Qifan Zhao
Course
Innovation Design Engineering
Supervisor
N/A
Theme
Breaking Barriers

Fallback is an alternative platform providing access to real-time information during times of internet shutdown.

An internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of internet communications, rendering them inaccessible. It is often used to exert control over the flow of information and has become one of the defining tools of government repression and information control in the 21st century.

With Fallback, users have the insurance of accessing information even if there is an internet shutdown. Our service is triggered by our internet shutdown forecast algorithm. So far, action towards internet shutdowns has been reactive rather than pre-emptive. Our offering takes advantage of a previously untapped opportunity of predicting internet shutdowns and deploys it at the right moment of necessity.

 — Fallback
Fallback portal device.

An internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or a specific population, often to exert control over the flow of information. Access to information is the epitome of freedom in our time, shaping the way we learn, think and act. The Internet is both a promise and a threat. How might we resist government-imposed Internet shutdowns that have become one of the trending tools of 21st-century repression?

Fallback is an alternative platform providing access to real-time news during times of Internet shutdown. With Fallback, users have the insurance of accessing daily news even if there is an Internet shutdown. The mission of Fallback is to build empathy, increase global visibility and provoke action on Internet Shutdowns worldwide. Fallback builds a robust system for information accessibility in uncertain times triggered by powerful forecasting algorithms providing a backup right when it is needed. Fallback constantly monitors the probability of Internet shutdowns worldwide taking advantage of both qualitative and quantitative metrics to generate insights and calculate the possibility of an Internet shutdown within a reasonable time frame to deploy pre-emptive action.

High-risk forecasts trigger our transmission service to users in a seamless way, allowing them to adapt to changing situations effortlessly and empowering them with their own choices of sources of news. Upon a high-risk prediction, headlines and articles are scraped from news platforms pre-customised by the user, it is encrypted and sent over satellite to the Fallback Portal devices. Portal receives data over satellite, decrypts it with a private key, formats it into news articles to fit the Fallback UI. The Portal is not only designed to be aesthetically non-threatening, functionally minimal and robust for different environmental conditions but, it is also designed to be device and software independent. A user can use any wifi enabled device they can get their hands on or borrow to access the data received by the Portal, without the need for a pre-downloaded software or app while still maintaining anonymity since no data gets stored locally. Once connected to the hotspot provided by Portal the UI pops up on the available device regardless of its operating system or pre-existing software or apps. The simple UI interaction aims to maintain some normalcy in the experience of browsing online news. The transmission continues until the Internet shutdown is over or the risk levels decrease.

Ultimately, Fallback hopes to support the large network of leading NGOs and nonprofits field staff around the world and in high-risk nations who play an imperative role in supporting their communities in uncertain times. Fallback's mission is to build empathy, increase global visibility and provoke action on Internet Shutdowns worldwide and to focus on the importance of investing in technology in defending human rights.

 — Fallback
Fallback working prototypes.

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