IIID Conversation: Design for Digital Empowerment, 28 March 2024, 17:00 UTC

IIID conversation: Katherine Gillieson and Shradda Khumbar

The Community Network Roadmap (CNR) is a guide for people with no prior background in network technologies to build and maintain their own broadband networks. Built with interdisciplinary expertise in information design, engineering, and community network experience, the guide prioritizes inclusion, group decision-making, and accessible technical information.

A 2023 study by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that 2.6 billion people are totally unconnected to the Internet. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is access to network infrastructure. Community broadband networks are emerging around the world, but the lack of knowledge and skills required to address the technical and social complexities of both building and maintaining the network are considerable.

In this presentation, we will share an overview of the CNR project, including highlights of the highly interdisciplinary collaboration process, and look at our design decisions in terms of the publication format and structure. Guided by principles of information design, the guide makes use of graphic and layout devices for clarity and ease of navigation for many contexts of use. We will conclude with a few thoughts about remote and collaborative projects, low tech/low bandwidth and open-source design, and the next steps for the project.

CNR website and download


Katherine Gillieson is a designer, researcher and educator with over 20 years in higher education. Her interests include information design, editorial design, and the theory and philosophy of design, with a focus on design and communication as empowering tools for socially engaged projects. She is a founding member of the Occasional Press at ECU, as well as The Stationery Project, a long-running initiative to recoup waste materials through creative bookbinding. Most recently, she contributed as design lead to the Community Networks Roadmap. She is the Associate Dean for the Master of Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. An advocate of accessibility and inclusivity, she is currently developing the distance learning option MDes (Information Futures).

Shraddha Kumbhar is a UX Researcher and Designer. Her practice lies at the intersection of Human Behavior, Creative Technologies, and Systems Thinking. Her background includes BA in Industrial Design from Nottingham Trent University (UK) and MDes in Interaction Design from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Canada). Her experience spans community-driven social innovation projects, including information communication technology, emergency management, and healthcare. Her academic projects, notably the KARA108RG – Flood Emergency Equipment, was recognized and showcased at ‘Prototypes for Humanity’ and featured in Dezeen magazine.



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