Funding Proposal (Overview)

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NOTE: This proposal was submitted to the Facilitation Working Group on 1/5/11 in anticipation of a presentation at Spokes Council on Friday 1/6/11. It is also viewable on the main nycga.net site here. For a more detailed cost breakdown of this proposal, check out the itemized post. Also, the whole thing is available as a PDF, here: Tech Ops Funding Proposal MERGED

The Technology Operations group of the New York City General Assembly strives to provide tools that enable our movement to connect and communicate with each other and the world through technology. We provide as many tools we can to support OWS and the broader Occupy Movement as we all transform the world. Some of our more notable projects include tools that many people in the movement use every day:

  • NYCGA.net - the movement’s largest and most active social network
  • Occupy.net - free/libre/open source tools for activists
  • @nycga.net email for working groups
  • Computers in the Occupied Office and coming soon to 60 Wall Street
  • 855-NYCGA-411 - a toll-free phone service that enables anyone to receive info from the NYCGA.net website
  • The Freedom Tower providing free, unrestricted wi-fi to occupiers.

Today, we are bringing this budget proposal forward to allow us to continue these successful services and tools, and to give us room to develop more. We will bring the proposal in FOUR distinct parts and seek consensus on each part before moving on. We want the group to be able to decide the merits of each of these ideas and only move forward with them if we all think they are worthwhile.

PART ONE: 855-NYCGA-411 PHONE SERVICES

855-NYCGA-411 democratizes our communication systems by making it possible for people without access to computers or cell phones get up-to-the-minute news and information. It allows anyone to dial a toll-free number from any phone (including pay phones) and instantly access information on the NYCGA.net website, including event information, announcements and action alerts. It also enables people to leave important announcement information that will be heard by people calling into the system.

In the three weeks the system was in available, it received 527 calls, for a total of over 1138 minutes. We anticipate usage to grow as more people learn about the service and its features are improved.

BENEFITS:
  • Free access to up-to-date movement information from anywhere (in the US)
  • Ability to communicate out real-time important information
  • Doesn’t require internet access or your own phone

While 855-NYCGA-411 calls are free, the service is not. On 12/30, our free arrangement ran out and the service as been offline since then, as many of you may have noticed if you tried calling. We plan to build an open source version of this service so other occupations can deploy it themselves. This will take lots of time and resources, so in the interim we’d like to keep the service running using the current provider. If this body feels the services are worth continuing, there are two options for pricing moving forward:

COSTS:
  • Option 1: 25,000 minutes of service at $.06/minute for a total of $1500
  • Option 2: 50,000 minutes of service at $.05/minute for a total of $2500

PART TWO: NYCGA.NET HOSTING REIMBURSEMENT

Since its launch on October 19, the NYCGA.net website has been hosted and maintained using web space provided by one of the members of Tech Ops at his own expense. This was always intended to be a temporary measure to get the site online ASAP. Recently, we have secured a temporary donation of server space and migrated our services there. Consequently, we’re only requesting reimbursement for past hosting costs.

BENEFITS:
  • The site has more than 8,000 registered users and has had over 1.25 million visits thus far
  • The site is used by nearly all groups represented at GA or Spokes Council to communicate and share information
  • This site is a critical tool for the achieving and the transparency we value in this movement
COSTS:
  • $1216.77 one-time reimbursement

PART THREE: SERVER INFRASTRUCTURE AND OPERATING COSTS

Our current servers for NYCGA.NET and Occupy.net are being donated by a third party hosting company whose generous offer is only temporary, and in a couple months we’ll have to pay (high) monthly service fees. We’ve explored our options and have determined it best for Tech Ops to operate our own servers. We have many exciting new services in the pipeline that we are sure you will all love, including occupywallstreet.net, the new public-facing site of OWS, a Livestream project discussed later in this proposal, and a service to allow people to contribute their own social media accounts to be used for OWS messaging. All of this takes servers and infrastructure  We have been offered a heavily discounted rate by a local colocation facility – basically a hotel for our servers – that will allow us to move in comfortably now, and expand our infrastructure to meet our needs for the foreseeable future. To jump on this incredible offer, we need to purchase two servers that are capable of hosting our current services as well as providing space for our new exciting projects to grow into.  Technical breakdown is attached.

BENEFITS:
  • Sufficient infrastructure for our current needs and many future projects
  • We control all of our own data
  • Police, government, etc, would have to ask NYCGA, not a third party, in order to access any of our information
  • We have physical access to servers, enabling us to upload data more quickly
  • We get more bang for our buck
  • Not mis-using out $100/day WG allotment
COSTS:
  • $5,692.24 one-time cost for server equipment
  • $250/month for continued local hosting facility space
  • $200/month for miscellaneous costs (DNS, SMTP services, mobile hot spots, etc) only to be used on an as-needed basis

PART FOUR: LIVESTREAM HD SUPER-CHARGE

Livestream has been an integral part of this movement from the very beginning, and we all love them and the work they do. By making all of our daily successes and struggles open and transparent, we have captured the attention and imagination of the world. After many conversations with the livestream team of the Media Working Group, we are coming forward to offer some amazing technology solutions which will bump our livestreaming capabilities to a whole new level. Using cameras that the livestream team already has, some incredible deals for top-notch streaming equipment from state-of-the-art manufacturers, and new audio equipment and datacards, our Livestream team will be able to produce crystal clear HD quality video and audio.

BENEFITS:
  • HD Livestreaming of OWS events, actions, GAs, Spokes Councils
  • High quality video feeds that indie and mainstream media outlet can share with their viewers
COSTS:
  • $312 one-time cost for 4G USB modems from each major wireless network: Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T
  • $413.68/month for data plan subscriptions for these four modems
  • $888 one-time cost for 4-mic Wireless Microphone System & camera-top Wireless interview mic.

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