Geeks’ vision and mission is to bring the benefits of internet connectivity to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected to help close the Digital Divide and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including improved standards of health, education and social and economic well-being.
By leveraging the benefits of satellite, wireless and fiber connectivity-based solutions in a resilient, technologically neutral and sustainable manner and through thought leadership, advocacy, public and private advisory support and the creation of modular legal and regulatory solutions designed to accelerate SDG focused connectivity, Geeks aspires to empower the unserved, including the forcibly displaced, create Smart Communities and help catalyze positive global change from the top down and the bottom up.
GEEKS in Action
Refugee Inclusion. Working in partnership with UNHCR, the Jordanian Government and satellite, fiber and mobile network operators, Geeks is currently researching providing local language educational TV over WiFi and educational and medical related internet connectivity for Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. If successful in Jordan, the initiative will be extended to other countries.
Geeks is also in early stage discussions regarding producing a global policy document for refugee inclusion focused on unlocking the socio-economic and connectivity barriers that refugees face due to a lack of internationally acceptable form of legal identity.
Smart Communities. Combining DigOnce!, CommunityConnect!, Disaster Resilience and Recovery and Geek’s work on the US Model Law for accelerating broadband deployment and Intelligent Infrastructure, Geeks is introducing these concepts into Smart Community, County and Country strategy and thinking in order to promote the Sustainable Development Goal related benefits that come with access to ubiquitous, resilient, connectivity.
Disaster Resilience and Recovery. Leveraging CEO, David Hartshorn’s, experience in supporting the United Nations and World Food Program regarding global disaster resilience and recovery for critical connectivity assets, David was appointed to the US Federal Communications Commission ‘Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group’ relating to developing a communications resilience and recovery strategy for the USA.
VillageConnect! Geeks is enabling expanded access to sustainable, low average revenue per user connectivity models, in conjunction with satellite, mobile and fiber service providers so as to be able to bring SDG related connectivity to unserved and underserved communities in the world. Combined with connectivity cost reduction techniques, including Demand Aggregation, and advances in technology, Geeks is committed to democratizing access for the billions of marginalized people throughout the world.
Closing the Digital Divide. Following the publication of Geeks’ Model Law on DigOnce! and CommunityConnect! initiatives, Geeks Directors Michael Potter and John Morris were appointed to the US Federal Communications Commission working group briefed to draft a Digital Divide focused ‘State Model Code for Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment and Investment’. Since then, Geeks has been advocating for other governments to adopt similar approaches and accelerate the expansion of connectivity to unserved and underserved communities.
- Satellite. Geeks published its ‘CommunityConnect!’ best practices White Paper for Satellite Network Operators, Regulators, and Service Providers & Integrators designed to help accelerate closing the Digital Divide by increasing the ease and cost of access to satellite connectivity. CommunityConnect! has been endorsed by many of the main satellite providers and related industry organisations and won the 2018 Pacific Telecommunications Council award for ‘Best Regulatory Innovation’.
- Fiber and Wireless. Geeks Published its ‘Model Law on DigOnce!’ a modular legal and regulatory framework for accelerating the roll out of broadband networks in a cost and environmentally efficient manner.
Mesh WiFi. Geeks developed an open source, low cost, 802.11s mesh based WiFi protocol technology. A step in the direction to seamless communications, this standard has great potential to help close the Digital Divide in regions of the world, where access to connectivity is constrained or non-existent. Geeks is currently evaluating other complementary innovations, including distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and other exponential technologies. In this regard Geeks Director, Michael Potter, serves on the ITU Focus Group on Application of Distributed Ledger Technology and Blockchain.
Impact Credits & Sustainable Development Credits
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are perhaps the most ambitious and far-reaching initiative in human history to address the major economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting our planet. The SDGs are predicated on the notion that efforts to alleviate poverty have to go hand-in-hand with endeavors that simultaneously seek to build economic growth, while addressing a range of social needs including education, health, and employment opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
One of the most significant challenges of achieving the UN SDGs by the target year of 2030 is the funding gap between funds that can be sourced from the multilateral funding organizations and the financial requirement needed to fund the SDGs. Initial estimates suggest that achieving the SDG targets would require annual incremental investments of between $5 to $7 trillion.
Governments cannot fund this level of investment and will require significant private funding to meet these funding gaps. To attract private capital, projects must be financially sustainable and provide transparent and reliable financial systems. Private/public partnerships and creative financing structures may be necessary to provide investors with an appropriate return. In addition, local regulation may need to adjust to encourage investment in critical infrastructure.
We believe an innovative system of “Sustainable Development Credits” or “Impact Credits” can drive and accelerate both public and private investment into critical projects of social importance, and in particular infrastructure projects.
It is also important to be mindful of the aphorism, that “If you can’t measure it you can’t fix it.” Not only would the UN have a better tracking mechanism for quantifying and defining progress, but so would all the other players in the sustainable ecosystem. Impact Credits enable measurement, which is the basic step forward to fixing these profound challenges.
“Sustainable Development Credits”
To appreciate the power of projects that have tremendously critical impact beyond what people normally appreciate, imagine the construction of roads or communications networks. In both cases financial entities and business would be satisfied with industry standard rate of returns. But imagine if investors could not only make their financial returns, but in addition investors could also receive “Impact Credits” and “Sustainable Development Credits.” Critical infrastructure generally provides benefits to residents, users and nations well beyond their single purpose which many people might associate with a particular infrastructure. Road and communications infrastructure can provide important positive social impacts in health, women empowerment, economic development, and education as well. A nation, a company and an investor should be acknowledged for the social and developmental impact that goes far beyond the one dimensional conception that many view infrastructure as providing.
“Sustainable Development Credits” represents the investment of capital into projects with impact toward achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. It provides “value” to Corporate Social Responsibility funds and philanthropic investors through social purpose, trading and visibility. Sustainable Development Credits fall under the larger category of financial services, including brokerage of environmental and social impact commodities credit, exchanges and consulting.
The UN has established SDG goals in 2015 but, in the absence of an enforcement mechanism, can leverage such Credits through information “dashboards” that will help move countries toward achieving their goals by the year 2030.
Corporate social responsibility funds and others would like to help countries meet their goals but want acknowledgment, transparency, security and tracking. A KPMG report indicates that while 40% of the top 250 companies mention SDG’s in their sustainability reports in some way, many are still unclear about how to report progress and few highlight it as a priority. Without “Impact Credits” and very few businesses currently see the business case for action. “Impact Credits” also fall under the larger category of financial services, namely, brokerage of environmental and social impact commodities credit, exchanges and consulting.
The funds from the issuance of the SDG credit would be used to support the project. The Holder would list the credits in their annual reports and or annual sustainability reports. And individuals throughout the ICT sector would more rapidly become beneficiaries of connectivity-enabled social impact.
Interested parties can contact Geeks Without Frontiers to further discuss bespoke solutions for Sustainable Development Credits and Impact Credits.