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An Exciting Outlook for 2024

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April 15th, 2024

Outlook 2024

As we set off on the second quarter of 2024, we're thrilled by our progress thus far. Our roadmap for this year stems from the enriching conversations held during the 2023 Flying Labs regional retreats, which offered invaluable insights for both global and regional implementation. During the first half of the year, our aim is to keep diligently translating these discussions into action, with the intention of fully realizing the majority of the proposed ideas by the close of the second quarter. Our key strategic outlook this year is to grow the Flying Labs Network in strength and sustainability, and the activities we have planned are all geared towards this endeavor. 

Here’s a summary of what we’re up to:

Evolution and Expansion of the Network’s Governance and Model

Our focus during the first half of this year is to evolve not just engagement within the Network but its governance and model as well. Our aim is to establish a joint Network stewardship, moving away from WeRobotics as the sole steward of the Flying Labs Network. Last year, we implemented the first step of our “Transition South” strategy in close collaboration with Flying Labs and our Board of Directors. We also reorganized and outsourced our back office and strengthened our decentralized setup through our Holacracy-inspired approach to support this transition. The next step we are taking is the co-creation of a Flying Labs Network Council composed of Flying Labs members who will actively participate in governance and decision-making processes, both strategic and operational. Eager to collaborate with Flying Labs in designing this council, we held two co-creation sessions earlier in the year, where we jointly created the format of this endeavor, including the structure, functions, roles, duration of council membership, and more.

Expanding Horizontal and Vertical Collaboration with Flying Labs

Collaboration is both a key value of the Flying Labs Network as well as the base of our joint work together. Continuously improving collaboration is therefore an essential part of our focus. In 2024, we will try out the following improved collaboration formats:

  • Horizontal collaboration through geographic regions: We are increasing the number of regions to five geographic regions – three in Africa (Western, Eastern, and Southern Africa), along with the Asia-Pacific and Latin American/Caribbean regions. In the regional Flying Labs retreats in late 2023, each region set itself a regional vision and goals, which we are supporting them in implementing.
  • Vertical collaboration through Sector Expertise Hubs: We have introduced a new format for global collaboration within the Network based on topics (sectors). We call this new format “Sector Expertise Hubs” and their goal is to bring together Flying Labs interested in specific sectors/topics, WeRobotics, and external partners to form virtual collaboration hubs. We already launched the first two hubs, focusing on “Drones, Data and AI for Disaster” and “Drone Regulations & Civil Aviation Authority Engagement”. Throughout 2024, we plan on launching 3–4 additional hubs, focusing on Agriculture, Climate, Youth/STEM and Drone assembly, repair & maintenance. An essential aspect of the expertise hubs is the creation of both public and internal resources, as well as the identification of projects, funding, and consulting opportunities related to the respective topics. This will enable Flying Labs to engage more effectively and meaningfully with opportunities within their areas of expertise. We're eager to see how this approach evolves and how it can best serve the Flying Labs community. 

A Multi-lingual Approach for Knowledge Sharing

Over the years, WeRobotics has amassed a vast repository of invaluable resources on a knowledge-sharing platform accessible to all Flying Labs. However, these materials have been predominantly English-centric, posing a significant challenge in accessibility to Flying Labs that predominantly speak other languages. Recognizing that true localization requires greater linguistic inclusivity, we embarked on a journey back in 2022 to translate our resources and cater to the multilingual needs of the Network better. Our translation activities will take even greater priority in 2024 thanks to a new partnership and use of localization software to achieve greater efficiency and quality as well as the expansion of our knowledge-sharing platform’s linguistic capabilities across multiple languages. We look forward to having the majority of resources available in English, French, and Spanish by the end of the year, with further expansion thereafter.

Turning Data Into Action

Our Turning Data into Action program continues to be one of our primary focuses. We have just launched the next round of microgrants with a specific emphasis on climate action. Last year, our focus was on disaster response, which resulted in the establishment of the Disaster Expertise Hub and several exciting projects from Nigeria, Cameroon, Nepal, Bolivia, and Burkina Faso Flying Labs. Similarly, we hope that this upcoming round will contribute to the development of our Climate Expertise Hub.

These microgrants are targeted towards new Flying Labs that have joined the Network within the past two years, as well as those Flying Labs that have not yet received a TDIA microgrant. We look forward to supporting the selected Flying Labs as they work towards addressing climate-related challenges within their communities.

Documenting and Sharing Our Impact and Learnings

As the Flying Labs Network continues to grow in strength and size, it also grows in visibility on local, regional, and global levels. This growth not only presents numerous opportunities but also calls for even greater intention and cohesiveness in our communication and advocacy efforts. This will strengthen Flying Labs’ voices within their own countries and regions as they will be able to communicate their activities and impact better. 

To achieve this, we're enhancing communication channels to provide Flying Labs with more opportunities to track and share their impact with the Network on a monthly basis. Additionally, we're refining our Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) strategies to ensure comprehensive reporting of the impact of their activities. One way we are doing this is by demonstrating qualitative impact through regularly published impact stories from across the Network. By telling the unique, personal, and powerful stories behind each project undertaken and completed by Flying Labs, we hope to illustrate in the most human ways the power of local and why it matters to all of us. 

As important as the stories we will share about our work is ensuring that they reach our audience of like-minded believers in the sustainable and locally led use of technology for social good. A major milestone on the road to achieving this was the launch of our new website at the start of the year. With improved speed, even in low-bandwidth areas, the website has become a valuable tool for reaching a broader audience,  communicating the essence of our work, and publicly sharing a wealth of resources. Beyond serving as a great platform for telling our story, it has also provided an opportunity to test new technology for a new website for the Flying Labs Network, which is slated for launch in the third quarter of this year.

Finally, to elevate the Flying Labs and WeRobotics brands and amplify our impact through storytelling, we are focusing on strengthening our social media strategies. WeRobotics’ social media management is now in-house to ensure more robust and aligned communication across both organizations. Our aim is to optimize our online presence, harnessing various social media tools to highlight the unique culture of the Flying Labs Network and expand even further its reach across the globe and the Tech4Good sector. 

Contributing to Systems Innovation

In addition to our work with the Flying Labs Network, we will keep on contributing to wider systems innovation, and we have started out the year strong. In the first quarter, we have contributed with first learnings sessions for other non-profit organizations as well as keynotes, panel contributions and sessions at ICT4D and Skoll World Forum. We have also published two publicly available learning reports:  the Glocalization report, which delves into the full-circle approach of our localization model, and the Power Footprint report, which offers a fresh perspective on power within the development sphere. We anticipate the release of more reports within the year and value the opportunity to share the insights we gain along the way as our journey unfolds. 

We also plan on supporting other organizations throughout the year with the adoption of our Inclusive Networks Model. After a first adoption of our model in 2022/2023 by an African consortium, the next model adoption is planned for the second quarter, and more are in discussion for the remaining part of the year. We look forward to publishing updates on these model adoptions throughout the year, and use our experiences to refine our model and document our learnings along the way. 

The Journey Continues

This year, we’re all about amplifying collaboration and impact to support our continued growth. So far, we have made great strides towards achieving our goals to deepen collaboration within the Flying Labs Network, refine our localization model even further, and tell the story of who we are, what we do, and why we do it. This gives us confidence as we look towards bringing our plans to fruition over the next nine months. We already can’t wait to look back at the end of the year and reflect on all we will have learned and achieved.



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