Miami Hackthon Helps Bring Internet Access to Cuba

April 4, 2016 by No Comments

An elusive software developer in Cuba that only goes by the name “Kuma” in order to evade the communist island authorities has won a Miami-based contest for creating an “app” that will help make internet accessible to majority of Cuba.

According to Fox News Latino, the HeyCuba Hackthon had more than 100 contestants participating.

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Called Navegar, Kuma’s app allows users to gain access to the internet on any website, similar to any other app available on the market. And recently, the usage of apps has seen a massive explosion. In 2014 alone, Yahoo!-owned analytics firm Flurry recorded more than two trillion app sessions.

“I really feel honored to have participated in the HeyCuba Hackathon since it provides a practical alternative for Cubans to access services and very useful apps,” said Kuma. “It was more difficult to participate from Cuba, since the Internet connection keeps going down or disappearing when you need it most.”

According to HeyCuba, Cuba is currently considered one of the most disconnected countries in the Western hemisphere. “Only 400,000 people can visit the web, whereas 2.6 million can only send and receive emails, but not access the web,” HeyCuba’s website reads.

Launched by the Florida Vocational Institute under the leadership of Arnie Girnun, the Hackathon aims to create technological solutions for Cuba. As the winner, Kuma’s app will be used by the non-profit project Apretaste, which aims to provide free access to the internet in disconnected areas.

The Hackthon was organized by Salvi Pascual, a digital coder who created Apretaste’s free internet platform. Pascual deeemd the event a success, noting that “so many people [are] interested in this cause and in helping Cuba.”

Pascual added that it was “a unique opportunity allowing us to have people in Cuba and the U.S. work together on something that is completely linked to science.”

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