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Embrace the Power of Local; Join the Flying Labs Network

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July 2nd, 2024

Embrace the Power of Local

In Senegal, drones soar above a landscape marred by mining waste, capturing intricate data to reduce waste accumulation and protect the ecosystem from further degradation. Thousands of miles away in Bolivia, they vigilantly monitor forest areas, identifying potential fire hazards before they can wreak havoc. Meanwhile, in a bustling urban center in Japan, drones equipped with LiDAR technology pave the way for futuristic urban revitalization and breathe life into the concept of a digital twin society. As the battle against malaria in Madagascar continues, drones map mosquito breeding sites with precision, strengthening public health efforts. Over landslides in Nepal, they collect information that will save lives. 

In these snapshots we see the story of the Flying Labs Network unfold – a story of collaboration and sharing, yes, but more than that, a story of hope that cannot be dimmed and belief that cannot be shaken. Every new day Flying Labs in 40+ countries across Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia/Pacific get up and show that a different world is not just possible but inevitable, and it will be created through the Power of Local. 

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So what is the Power of Local? 

It is the belief that the members of a community understand their own challenges best and are therefore the ones best equipped to solve them. That in the hands of experts who live and work there, technology’s effectiveness in combating the issues faced by communities around the world multiplies by leaps and bounds. That the answer to the humanitarian, health, development, climate, and environmental problems that affect us all does not lie in technology itself but in the people who know how to utilize it for social good. 

The Power of Local says that it is not about drones, AI, robotics, or any other emerging technology that we can use to solve problems. It says that every people, every community, every culture, has a unique experience of the challenges that are common to all of us, and therefore, to be meaningful and impactful, every solution developed to solve these challenges must be locally led, must draw from each community’s experiences, must be adapted and made relevant as required by each community, and must be implemented by and with the people of each community. The Power of Local says that it is about the people, about putting the tools in their hands and knowing that they can and will create the change they need in their own communities. The Power of Local says that just as the responsibility to build a better world belongs to all of us, so does the ability.

This is why WeRobotics’ approach to localization work is multi-pronged, focusing on finding new ways and solutions to amplify local expertisebridging the gap between local actors and a global ecosystem for meaningful collaborationimplementing technology solutions with local experts for climate action, agricultural innovation, disaster management, STEM education, and more, and advocating for systems change in the development sector to shift power. This approach comes together in the form of our proven and replicable model co-created with Flying Labs to successfully localize and shift power at a grassroots level. 

The Flying Labs Network has traveled a massive distance since we first conceptualized our Inclusive Networks Model. Locally, Flying Labs (independent local nonprofits, for-profit companies, universities, and research centers throughout the Global South) leverage shared expertise and leadership to accelerate the impact of humanitarian, health, development, and environmental solutions. Globally, the Network connects them to share lessons learned and best practices and to collaborate on joint projects for even greater impact. To capture the beauty of this collective strength, we rely on the African proverb, “Alone we go fast, together we go far.” 

With over 300 local experts and counting, the Flying Labs Network continues to grow in strength and size, spreading the message of the Power of Local across the globe. After 8+ years of refining this localization model with Flying Labs based on our experiences and learnings, we can demonstrate its impact, vouch for the incredible power of the diversity, collaboration, and knowledge sharing that form the foundation of the Network, and say, “Join us!” 

The Power of Local is a call that grows louder and richer with every new voice. With every new Flying Labs, we gain a deeper understanding and a broader perspective of our shared world and the journey we are on to making it a more equal and inclusive one, where everyone can thrive. Though the task looms large, many hands make light work, and we invite local technology experts from across the Global South to engage with our work, learn more about the Flying Labs Network, and join us in amplifying the Power of Local.   

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Beyond joining the Flying Labs Network, there are other ways to get involved in our work. Transforming traditional and established systems is not an easy task, and thus it calls for collective, collaborative effort. We are actively seeking support from funders, technology and organizational partners, as well as subject matter experts to expand, scale our work, and continue nurturing our innovative approach. Funders, technology companies, and social good organizations can tap into this work by partnering with us to create greater impact together while INGOs and social entrepreneurs interested in localization with a bottom-up approach can consult with us on how to adopt our Inclusive Networks Model



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