SARI Pilot Applications

Madurai district is located in southeastern India. Outside the urban center of Madurai City, economic activity is largely focused on agricultural production, including sugar cane, rice, and ground nuts, and consists of both dry and irrigated lands. The area has relatively good roads and reasonable electricity infrastructure, yet limited telephone access.

The Pilot Phase of the SARI project is already providing internet services to over 50 villages in the Madurai District of the Tamil Nadu State and continues to grow.

New applications and highly localized content has been collaboratively developed and is in use. Internet ready telekiosks are providing villagers with applications and services in local languages (such as Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi) that are geared towards entertainment, health, education, empowerment, and economic development. While the uses of the kiosks vary from site to site, some of the most popular applications are transactions with local government, computer education, and e-mail. There have also been notable successes in human and animal health, and agricultural information.

The pilot project deploys in each community a multipurpose community telekiosk. Each telekiosk includes a desktop PC, monitor, battery-backup power supply, and wireless internet connection. Soon voice telephone connections will also be provided via franchise arrangements with basic service operations. The network technology is based on the corDECT system developed at IIT Madras. Keeping the cost of the telekiosk low is central to the project's self-sustainability. The current technology suite is priced at approximately $1,000 per telekiosk. Many kiosks boast additional computers, printers, and a web camera.

Separate connections have been provided to schools, colleges, primary health centres, etc.