Verizon-backed accelerator leverages emerging technologies to support climate justice

Dive brief:

  • At 16 weeks start accelerator of Verizon seeks to use emerging technologies to attempt to reverse the worst effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.
  • The accelerator, called Move forward for good, will help start-ups in areas such as agriculture, clean technology, water, human health and safety, and food safety. In partnership with innovation agency Alley, the accelerator will seek to encourage the use of 5G, big data, mobile edge computing and artificial intelligence to solve climate and resilience issues. in these areas.
  • The five to seven startups accepted into the accelerator will have access to Verizon’s technology, funding to help scale their businesses, and the ability to connect and work with experts and mentors to make their products a reality. . Applications for the first cohort of the Accelerator close on April 30, and a second cohort is expected to be announced later this year.

Dive overview:

Forward for Good is a component of the company Citizen Verizon , where it seeks to expand digital access, mitigate the effects of climate change and prepare for the future of the workforce, said Verizon director of corporate social responsibility Dylan Siegler.

In addition to the accelerator, the company in 2019 is committed to sourcing or generating 50% of its annual electricity consumption by 2025 from renewable energies.

But while Siegler has said that emerging technologies present an exciting opportunity to help solve some of the biggest problems facing the planet, Verizon is not trying to say that the technology is an “interesting solution for social justice.” Instead, she said it was possible, for example, to explore how drones, big data, sensors and 5G could be operationalized to deal with physical climate risks such as rising water levels. sea ​​and extreme weather events.

The technology could also help communities move away from fossil fuels, Siegler said, which could be particularly useful if those economies are currently dependent on it. Making renewables more affordable and available could help address transition issues, she said.

“How do we make sure we are doing everything we can and using all the techniques we have, and all the technologies we can put in there to help communities that may be disadvantaged as these transitions to a fossil-free economy? occur?” Siegler said. “We don’t know what that looks like yet. That’s actually part of what’s so exciting about it.”

She also said the accelerator could be a good opportunity for Verizon to learn more about how emerging technologies can be helpful in mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. According to Siegler, the company’s knowledge in this area is growing, but can be helped further by start-ups operating in the space.

“We recognize that technology can have a big impact on climate resilience, and we recognize that it can help evolve to a place where society could be more just,” she said. “We don’t really know what it’s going to look like in the end, we are really looking to these innovators to help us understand if this hypothesis actually holds true. We believe this will be the case; we truly believe in the power of technology and connectivity to innovate against climate change. “

Cities and states have been among those who have taken the lead in tackling climate change, with businesses and other corporate entities setting similar goals and making eco-friendly investments. Siegler said this trend, which has also seen companies like Shell investing in the Masabi mobile ticketing platform, is part of a growing corporate awareness of the threat of climate change and a desire to help mitigate it.

“I think companies, including Verizon, are listening to the social impacts of climate change on the communities where our customers and employees live,” she said.

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About Perry Perrie

Perry Perrie

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