August 27, 2019

Introducing Verdant Place: A living lab for sustainable development through connectivity

By: William Farr

Facebook Connectivity introduces Verdant Place: a co-creation hub for breakthrough technologies, market solutions, and ecosystem partners, related to meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs) using green information and communications technologies (ICT). To join us in our mission of bringing more people online to a faster internet, please review our request for information.

A living lab for sustainable connectivity R&D

At Verdant Place, people, communities, companies, and organizations can come together to link ICT to achievement of SDGs. Research-driven innovation, development, and path-to-market processes are linked together here for exploration, experimentation, and evaluation of breakthrough ideas, scenarios, concepts, and technologies, in real-life use cases that connect more people in significant numbers to a faster internet. 

The Verdant Place approach engages stakeholders to simultaneously consider potential user adoption paths and the end-to-end global performance of a product or service. Evaluations of effectiveness to enhance connectivity are made from the earliest stages of research and development through all phases of product life cycle, from design up through recycling.

Verdant Place stakeholders

  • Energy industry
  • Entrepreneurs and startups
  • Environmental industry
  • Nongovernmental organizations
  • People and their communities
  • Platform developers
  • Public administration bodies
  • Regulators
  • Research centers
  • Telecommunications industry
  • Universities and other academics institutions
  • Venture capital and other investors

Verdant Place motivation

Environmental, social, and economic sustainability concerns are globally becoming dominant issues to the coming generation. For instance, the last four years (2015 through 2018) were the warmest on record, including all-time high CO2 annual emissions with a 2.7 percent increase in 2018.1,2

The majority of the world’s population is now digitally networked and connected, thanks to rapid and broad adoption of ICT. This has both direct and indirect impacts on SDGs. Direct impacts include not only CO2 emissions but also other environmental indicators such as toxicity, ozone depletion, soil acidification, and end-of-life recycling. Indirect impacts include social and economic factors that influence health, education, economic consumption and growth, human migrations, peace and justice, and more. As we strive to connect the unconnected and to enhance network performance for all, it is crucial that we consider the consequences to sustainability.

Verdant Place capabilities

Verdant Place is designed as a living lab. It is a test bed and an experimentation environment where users and producers can co-create high-impact innovations. Its objective is to generate new products, services, and appropriate infrastructure, matched to the enduring needs of society in a sustainable way. These processes involve both public and private groups. A living lab offers virtual and real spaces where technological prototypes are developed and tested for improving citizen welfare with demonstrated effectiveness and positive social impact. 

Verdant Place supports four primary activities:

  1. Co-creation: co-design by producers and users
  2. Exploration: discovery of emerging usages, behaviors, and market opportunities
  3. Experimentation: implementation of “live” scenarios within representative user communities
  4. Evaluation: analysis of concepts, products, and services according to socio-ergonomic, socio-cognitive, and socio-economic criteria

At Verdant Place, stakeholders can come together in a one-stop shop to:

  • understand industry initiatives in the sustainability of ICT evolution;
  • accelerate the achievement of SDGs by leveraging emerging ICT;
  • find collaboration partners and technology elements for a complete solution, including business models and hardware and software support;
  • identify the priorities of administration bodies that enable implementation;
  • generate crowd support for initiatives;
  • leverage micro-work initiatives to achieve SDGs; and
  • identify and motivate investor priorities.

Verdant Place comprises:

  • working groups and web platforms to identify both blocking problems and innovative opportunities toward achieving SDGs via green ICT;
  • forums for community leader discussion and peer-to-peer sharing of sustainability approaches, benefits measurements, and impact assessments;
  • focused and general workshops to bring together diverse stakeholders to foster interdisciplinary innovation and form collaborative efforts;
  • real and virtual (i.e., computational) laboratory facilities for research, development, and validation of innovative concepts linking SDGs and ICT; and
  • social networks and support to advance concepts from birth through initial trials into full-scale deployment, including existing organizations and entrepreneurs.

Verdant Place and you

Verdant Place is nothing without broad participation from a diverse community of innovators covering technological, economic, and social domains — in other words, your participation. We will begin this endeavor with a kickoff workshop at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park in December 2019. Guests will primarily be the successful applicants to our request for information. We look forward to your application!

1. The Climate Central, “The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record” (February 6, 2019)
2. Scientific American E&E News, “CO2 Emissions Reached an All-Time High in 2018” (December 6, 2018)