The Technology at Scale Fund is the primary means through which OTF directly supports the technology needs of USAGM broadcast networks, journalists, and their audiences. Many of these networks serve audiences in countries that attempt to block access to USAGM content and impede journalists’ efforts to report objective news. The Technology at Scale Fund solicits mature technology solutions to ensure that USAGM audiences can access content safely through firewalls and other government attempts to censor objective news and allow journalists to safely do their work and communicate with sources.
The US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is an independent federal agency whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. It oversees public service media networks including Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL), Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). The USAGM networks’ combined weekly audience reach is estimated at 350 million, of which online audiences are estimated at 127 million.
This fund seeks solutions to help USAGM safely create and deliver content to its online audiences in censored environments. Understanding that there may be multiple approaches to helping USAGM audience members circumvent censorship at scale and facilitate secure reporting, content sharing and communications, this fund is not limited to predetermined technologies or methodologies. Solutions must be able to securely deliver unblocked content to millions of members of the USAGM audience in multiple countries with high reliability and/or provide secure communications or content sharing capabilities to USAGM journalists.
Applications to the Technology at Scale fund go through a two-stage process. First, a concept note focusing on the technical approach and potential for effectiveness of proposed solutions, as well as, the past performance of the tool and applicant is submitted. Second, applicants whose proposed solutions are deemed to be highly competitive will then be invited to submit a full proposal focusing on the specific scope, costing and technical provision of the services to be offered to USAGM. Both the concept note and the proposal will be submitted through OTF’s online application system.
Applications to this fund will be evaluated and contracts competitively awarded based on:
- Proven track record of successfully and safely circumventing online censorship in highly Internet restricted environments and/or providing secure content sharing and communications in repressive contexts
- Resiliency and robustness of solution and ability to respond rapidly and effectively to censorship events
- Capacity to support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous user sessions on an ongoing basis
- Significant existing user-base including users in highly censored environments
- Ability to provide independently verifiable reach and performance metrics
- The open source nature of proposed solutions [This reflects a strong preference for fully open-source tools and open-sourced components wherever viable, and necessitates strong justification for any proprietary components]
- Client support for major desktop and mobile platforms
- A design and deployment model that meets the unique needs of USAGM broadcasters, journalists, and audiences
- A recent independent security audit with results made available to OTF
- Overall cost effectiveness of the solution and no cost to users in censored environments
- Language support for most or all countries served by USAGM that attempt to censor content
- A demonstrated focus and attentiveness to usability for a diverse global user base including in highly censored or surveilled environments.
- Proven record of or commitment to community engagement and information-sharing
Proposal pricing should focus on costs directly associated with the provision of the proposed scope of services to be provided to USAGM. Proposals may include costs for minor development or maintenance tasks associated with providing Internet Freedom services to USAGM entities but significant tool and feature development applications should be submitted through OTF’s Internet Freedom Fund (https://www.opentech.fund/funds/internet-freedom-fund).
The anticipated funding range for this initial solicitation is $300,000 to $1,000,000.
Apply through the Technology at Scale application form here: https://apply.opentech.fund/technology-scale-fund/
Please direct any questions to [email protected]