Geeks Without Frontiers (Geeks) is a platform for global impact. An award-winning non-profit, Geeks’ mission is to promote technology for a resilient world including bringing the benefits of broadband connectivity -health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)- to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected.
Geeks aspires to empower the unserved, including the forcibly displaced, creating Smart Communities and helping to catalyze positive global change. It does this by leveraging the benefits of exponential preparedness technologies as well as data, connectivity and other scalable solutions in a resilient, technologically neutral and sustainable manner; by the creation of innovative regulatory and business models designed to democratize and accelerate connectivity and through education and training, thought leadership, advocacy and public and private advisory support.
GEEKS in Action
Technology for a Resilient World (TRW). Launched in 2020 as a unique global platform for resilience and preparedness technologies, education and training, TRW’s mission is to reimagine resilience by using exponential technologies to accelerate and promote an increased focus on preparedness, and to reposition resilience as an investment in long-term growth in order to create better prepared societies. Resilience lies at the root of all of Geek’s activities. For further information see here.
COVID Response. Geeks is supporting Pandemic-response requirements for national and local governments, First Nation communities, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where the CEO Co-Chaired a COVID task force that co-authored a telecommunications best practices report for the US government. Further, Geeks is working with partners to develop methodologies, analyze constituent needs, and advise government stakeholders on COVID-19 related distribution of more than $1 billion for economic recovery, public health, housing, and family assistance in unserved and underserved communities. Geeks’ support includes research and analysis of digital access for connectivity to support COVID health education, tele-health and distance-learning for low-to-middle income households.
Disaster Preparedness. Leveraging a multidisciplinary team with decades of experience, Geeks has launched a global strategy and capacity-building program for disaster-preparedness stakeholders. The first in a global series of events was held recently in the Middle East in coordination with the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, the International Telecommunication Union, the US Commerce Department, and private sector leadership. Drawing upon technology-neutral skills building, the program has set the stage for development of an emergency communications plan in the client nation. The scalable platform draws upon best practice, including guidance co-authored by Geeks and fellow members of the FCC Disaster Preparedness and Response Working Group (US Disaster Preparedness Best-Practices Report and Recommendations).
Connectivity & Human Rights. Funded by USAID and private sector stakeholders, Geeks helped to address human trafficking, forced labor and illegal fishing by developing “Sustainability Models for the Global Fishing Industry”. The initiative was recognized by Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI), which presented Geeks with a ‘Better Satellite World’ award alongside the UK Space Agency and Kyushu Institute of Technology. Now, Geeks has formed a multi-stakeholder partnership and is planning implementation in commercial fishing supply chains worldwide. In addition to addressing human rights via vessel geo-positioning and crew connectivity, the model has commercial benefits for fleet owners including the ability to transmit catch reports, monitor weather, conduct safe navigation, and send distress signals.
Innovative Business Models. As technology advances introduce cost efficiencies and facilitate access to previously uneconomic use cases, innovative business models are needed. Development of low average revenue per user (ARPU) models allow communities to realize the socio-economic benefits of connectivity at affordable prices (e.g. sustainability for < $5.00 ARPU is now feasible in some cases). Aggregating demand can also reduce costs by enabling volume-based discounts for connectivity, and Corporate Social Responsibility programs can be leveraged to help launch and sustain communications networks in unserved areas. The Geeks team members have successfully implemented such models at scale in refugee camps (e.g. Dadab, Kenya), during major disasters (e.g. Haiti, Mozambique and others), and elsewhere.
Effective Regulatory Frameworks. To unleash the full potential of technologies and business models, regulatory change needs to be catalyzed so that it becomes an enabling rather than a limiting factor in meeting the SDG’s. Geeks develops technology-neutral regulatory best practice models for national administrations. This capability, which draws upon the Geeks team’s decades of experience with regulatory reform, includes CommunityConnect!, a code of best practices for Satellite Operators, Regulators and Service Providers & Integrators, which was recognized with the Pacific Telecommunications Council’s ‘Best Regulatory Innovation’ Award; and DigOnce!, international model legislation which provides a framework to roll out fiber networks to make broadband internet available to more people more quickly at a lower economic and environmental cost. Following the publication of DigOnce!, Geek’s Co-founders Michael Potter and John Morris were appointed by US Federal Communications Commission to help draft a ‘Model Code for States’ to accelerate broadband deployment and investment and to close the Digital Divide.
Promoting Gender Equality. Geeks is helping to remove gender and socio-economic related barriers for girls and women through the delivery of connectivity to support education, health, security, and economic self-determination. With leadership from Geeks’ WomenConnect! Team — a task force led by an international group of women professionals — Geeks’ projects are optimized to address gender challenges, and metrics are applied to measure impact.
Scalable Technologies. Exponential technologies have become essential tools for the UN’s goal of meeting the SDG’s by 2030 and include combinations of communications and data systems, together with complementary capabilities such as power, finance, water purification, mapping, earth observation, and more. As a tech-neutral group of experts, Geeks facilitates the design and use of such systems and services. In addition, when technology innovations are required, Geeks is able to help establish new solutions. For example, Geeks worked with Google to develop the open source, low cost, 802.11s mesh WiFi technology, which has been used by Google, Facebook and others to help close the Digital Divide for millions of people throughout the world. Geeks is currently involved with other complementary innovations, including distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and more.