Monday, February 22, 2016

How Facebook is Using Smart Maps and Drones to Spread the Internet to Remote Places

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a goal to get everyone in the world connected to the internet, even people in the world's poorest and most remote regions.  Currently there are four billion people in the world that do not have access to the internet.  Facebook plans on bringing these people internet through an interconnected system of solar-powered drones, which will provide network connection.  An important precursor to this is how Facebook has created detailed maps that study population density and its effect on networks, which will help Facebook figure out exactly where and how to launch its drones.

Facebook's bold plan began by simultaneously creating the two main components of the project, the maps and drones.  The main article, "Facebook's New Map of World Population Could Help Get Billions Online", makes a valid point that the population maps are integral to the project because without them, the company would not know where the best places are to launch their drones to give the greatest amount of people access.  The article also notes how the maps can help Facebook figure out whether Wifi or cellular connection would be better and explains that Facebook plans on connecting the drones to one another and ground support through laser data.  One interesting point that the article raises is that Facebook's population maps can prove to be valuable for more than just their project, such as where to place hospitals, transportation networks, and in assisting humanitarian efforts.

However, Facebook has had to deal with some outside pressure that was not mentioned in the article. Google has a similar project called "Project Loon" which will utilize helium balloons to create a network that can bring internet connection to rural and poor countries that lack internet availability, a project that creates competition for Facebook.  Facebook has also received much criticism for one of its similar initiatives called "", which is also a project to bring the internet to places that lack it. has been scrutinized for only providing select services such as Facebook and Wikipedia while not giving access to the web as a whole.  This then begs the question as to whether or not Facebook will do something similar with this project.  Beyond this lies the challenge of getting people devices that will allow them to use their new network.  It's not like there are people sitting in remote places in Africa with MacBooks on hand.  If Facebook truly wants to help bring these people internet and connect the world, they need to address these problems.


(Main)  Simonite, Tom. "Facebook's New Map of World Population Could Help Get Billions Online." MIT Technology Review. N.p., 20 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

Statt, Nick. "Facebook Is Using AI to Make Detailed Maps of Where People Live." The Verge. N.p., 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

Hurn, Alex. "Facebook Launches Aquila Solar-powered Drone for Internet Access." The Guardian. N.p., 30 July 2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

1 comment:

  1. I think Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is doing a generous thing by investing his money into solar-powered drones that will provide network connection to people in third world countries or countries that just do not have the money or resources to have internet. Although I think this is a great idea and I believe that everyone deserves to have equal opportunities and should not be limited in life just because of where they live, I think this project might be a hard one to launch. I think one of the main problems with it is that most of these people have bigger worries in life than checking Facebook. I think people living in some of the poorest countries are more worried about when the next meal they will have is than how many likes they can get on a picture. Although, I do think that adding technology to poor countries could be beneficial for people who want to be educated and learn about the world but do not have the resources to do so. I think if Zuckerberg is willing to invest his money in not only network connection, but in other valuable uses of technology such as hospitals, transportation networks, and assisting humanitarian efforts then I think that this will be a great advancement in these countries and could turn out to benefit them more than just having internet but maybe economically and eventually more power in each country. I am curious about how Zuckerberg is running the studies on population density and its effect on networks to determine where the drones go because I want to know what helps him determine where the best locations would be. Would it be in areas of not only high populations, but areas that have local schools, hospitals, etc.? I think Facebook might run into some competitive trouble with Google with their similar project, “Project Loon,” but it doesn’t say whether solar-powered drones or helium balloons to create a network are more efficient and effective. So depending on that, Facebook can either gain a major advantage or fall second to Google’s “Project Loon” which utilizes helium balloons to create a network that can bring internet connection to rural and poor countries.


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