Creating a more resilient internet

Monica Sumbi

Jan 20, 2022

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As part of their master’s practicum, Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) students Esther Kamau, Isaac Manzi, Blaise Niyigena, and Pasqua Ruggiero worked on a proof-of-concept project for the global nonprofit organization the Internet Society to test internet resiliency. According to the organization, a resilient internet connection is one that maintains an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation.

CMU-Africa students co-created the Internet Society Resilience Index (IRI), which is used to rate a country’s internet resilience level based on four measurement pillars: infrastructure, performance, security, and market readiness. The IRI is currently in the test phase of tracking internet resiliency in Africa. As the methodology is fine-tuned, it will be rolled out to other regions.

This project was born out of ongoing engagement about connectivity in Africa, between the non-profit organization the African Network Information Centre and CMU-Africa Assistant Teaching Professor Assane Gueye, who is co-director of CyLab-Africa and also the faculty advisor for the IRI project.

The MSIT practicum is a course within the MSIT program designed for students pursuing the professional track. Students work in teams of three or four and earn credits for successfully undertaking an industry project which is proposed by industry sponsors and supervised by the industry supervisor and faculty advisor.

“Typically, students build on what they have learned in class. We also provide papers on related work and continuously hold discussions around challenges and possible solutions,” says Gueye. “Our instruction method encourages our students to be problem solvers.”

Q&A with Amreesh Phokeer,
Internet Measurement and Data Expert for the Internet Society

What was your experience working with CMU-Africa students?

This was my first experience working with Carnegie Mellon University students for a practicum project. I would like to commend the straightforward process of submitting a practicum proposal, the selection process, and the assignment of students. This all went very smoothly. Once the group of students was formed, we organized weekly meetings.

Did anything stand out?

The students came from different concentration backgrounds and therefore brought a diverse set of skills to the project. The project proposed was very network-focused, and the students had no trouble understanding the goals and objectives. They were very helpful, working collaboratively with each other. I found a group of very dedicated, highly skilled, and enthusiastic students, and what really stood out for me was their analytical skills. Some of them demonstrated a very good command of data science concepts. 

What is next for the Internet Society Resilience Index?

No model is perfect, and we are looking at improving on it by collecting additional information and datasets over the coming months. Going forward, we’ll incorporate datasets from the "internet shutdowns" focus area, and from "keeping traffic local and centralization," two new focus areas that are under development at the Internet Society.

For more information on collaborative research, please contact Tim Brown, director of research at CMU-Africa.