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  • Writer's pictureGeeks Without Frontiers

Tackling Humanity’s Greatest Challenges

Tackling Humanity’s Greatest Challenges: Geeks Without Frontiers Shortlisted for Global Grand Challenge Awards

Geeks Without Frontiers ( is proud to announce that we have been short listed for the “Global Grand Challenge Awards.” The Awards are a central part of the upcoming Singularity University’s Global Summit in San Francisco which Geeks will attend. It is not a simple task to positively touch the lives of a billion people in the coming decades, yet the summit is focused on understanding the impact of exponential technologies on humanity’s greatest challenges.

Geeks Without Frontiers was selected because of its “DigOnce!” initiative. The social, educational and economic benefits of broadband connectivity have been widely recognised and connectivity is just as much a C21st revolution as rail was in C19th and electricity in C20th. Geek’s current goal is to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic networks in both advanced and developing economies. When 90% of fiber optic costs are related to digging the trenches for laying the fiber optic cabling, the vision of the DigOnce! initiative allows for the installation of empty fiber optic conduits (the plastic pipes that fiber is later “blown” or “pulled” through) as new roads (and other infrastructure) are built and existing roads are dug up to enable fiber to be installed.

The Geeks DigOnce! team, has developed Model Legislation designed to require developers of new roads and companies digging up existing roads to lay sufficient fibre optic conduits to take care of future growth. I also deals with requiring other utility operators (water, gas, electricity etc) to share their infrastructure where appropriate. Doing this will save material cost and time and help to speed up the roll out of broadband connectivity. It is also a “green” initiative, since it advocates laying the conduits any time new roads are built or old ones are repaired. This will prevent a future need to tear up the roads to lay fiber optic cables and will avoid the associated disruption and negative effect on the environment.

Large road projects funded by the European Union, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank could require conduits to be installed during road construction or road expansion. The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission is now focused, from a policy point of view, on how to bring together concepts of broadband Internet with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

DigOnce! is part of Geek’s ‘Broadband for a Billion’ initiative the other main part being VillageConnect which aims to bring ‘proof of concept’ connectivity to 20 villages/refugee camps in the next 18 months.

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