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Our 2021 Highlights

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December 30th, 2021

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For this last blog of the year, we are grateful to look back on yet another year full of great contributions, collaborations, sharing and highlights. Out of the many outstanding activities, projects and collaborations together with the Flying Labs Network, we picked our ten favourite highlights of the year to end this year with much gratitude and joy on our collective achievements:

Madagascar FL Led the Longest Range Cold-Chain Delivery, and also Delivered Covid Vaccines to Remote Communities. Madagascar Flying Labs carried out the longest range cold chain delivery in Africa as part of our joint project with the African Regional Office (AFRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO). The 225km flight clocked a flight time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. During the flight, the temperature of the cargo box was kept between 0.6°C and 8.6°C.
Madagascar Flying Labs also delivered COVID vaccines to very remote communities in the northernmost part of the country as part of our joint project with Population Services International (PSI) and the Twilio Foundation. This was the first time that COVID vaccines were delivered by the Flying Labs Network.

Uganda FL Delivered HIV Drugs to Remote Communities. Uganda Flying Labs delivered HIV medicines to remote island communities in Lake Victoria as part of our joint project with Johnson & Johnson and the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI).

First-ever Seed Release Project with Panama Flying Labs. WeRobotics and Panama Flying Labs co-led a technical demonstration in Panama using specially adapted drones to restore mangrove ecosystems in two communities in the Central Provinces of Panama. The first tests proved that the drone and the release system can load, store, and release the fresh mangrove propagules as designed. WeRobotics’ engineering team will continue to improve the mechanism, and is looking forward to collaborating with Flying Labs in 2022 for future pilot projects in this novel use of drone release systems for mangrove restoration.

Detailed Write-Up of The Flying Labs Model as an Effective Localization Model. We have put the wealth of learnings and experiences over the last 5 years into creating an “Inclusive Network” model and have started sharing the concept with other INGOs to start discussions on adopting our model for their localization efforts and strategies. The purpose of this study is to significantly broaden the visibility and credibility of Flying Labs and WeRobotics within the policy and research space. In addition, the study will be the most comprehensive and detailed report written about Flying Labs. A first publication is also in the making that has profited from the insights, experiences, and ideas from many Flying Labs, and will be published in early 2022.

Launch of Ariel & Friends Book Series for Children. In regards to STEM activities, Flying Labs asked us the question “What about younger children? How might we engage and inspire them while they are too young to fly drones?”.
Our answer to these questions was by launching children’s books together with Flying Labs, based on real-world social-good projects written by and with local experts who actually lead those projects. While our goal is to expose children to STEM-related activities early, we also want to ensure that these children see themselves in the pictorial illustrations, emphasizing the importance of local leadership, expertise, and experience.

Introducing bright young minds to STEM. Another STEM highlight of the year is the fact that Flying Labs have introduced and organised over 30 STEM training sessions and events, introducing children and youth in their communities to a broad range of STEM-related subjects. You can find a collection of examples in the blog posts on this webpage to learn more on the many diverse initiatives led by Flying Labs.

Growing strong together with the Flying Labs Global Model. After introducing the Flying Labs Global Model in late 2020, all Flying Labs participated in 2 self-evaluations in 2021, the first one in spring and the second one just before the year’s end, with outcomes to be shared in the first week of 2022. These evaluations have allowed us to cater our support to the needs identified by Flying Labs, and to grow stronger collectively. And will keep on doing so in 2022...

In person Train the Trainer Drone & Data Training in Zambia.  Flying Labs members from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda came together to benefit from a week-long training covering technical aspects of drone operations as well as data processing and analysis. The training curriculum was designed to allow the students to become trainers and add an extra source of revenue to their Flying Labs offer. The reactions of the participants speak for themselves.

Fine-tuning our Shift the Power Strategy. Building up to this moment from the very beginning and over the last 5 years, we were excited to finally publicly share our Shift the Power strategy in summer 2021. We did so with a dedicated webpage that also allows us to include the full collection of blog posts on this topic. If you haven't discovered the strategy yet, do not wait any longer and visit the Shift The Power page on our website.

Turning Data into Action Program. In terms of supporting resources, our highlight of the year was implementing the “Turning Data into Action” program in early 2021. This program provides Flying Labs with specific tools and techniques needed to facilitate and enable stakeholders’ ability to turn drone data into impact and positive outcomes. Throughout the second half of the year, six Flying Labs tested the program in real-life use cases through dedicated microgrants. Thanks to their feedback, we are learning more about the most useful elements of the program as well as what is still missing. These learnings will help us to improve the program in 2022. Read more on the on the first real-life use cases from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Benin.

We wish you Happy Holiday greetings and a peaceful and joyful passage into the New Year. And come back for more exciting reads in 2022, we have a wealth of interesting, impactful and innovative initiatives, programs, projects and trainings already lined up.

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