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August 13, 2014

Young Innovators Competition launches Challenge 3 on Smart Cities and Climate Change

By Regina Sipos

The third challenge of the ITU Telecom World 2014 Young Innovators Competition has just been launched in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). It seeks innovative ideas on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help smart cities to slow down or mitigate the effects of climate change for the benefit of global health.

This challenge comes as a natural synergy between the work of both ITU and WHO on climate change. WHO has long provided evidence, information and calls to action on the link between health and climate change, the topic of its upcoming Conference on Health and Climate Change, to be held on 27 – 29 August 2014, where some of the ideas submitted for the Young Innovators Challenge will be presented. ITU has also worked extensively on climate change by raising awareness of the role of ICTs and promoting transformative solutions in areas such as Smart and Sustainable CitiesSmart Water Managementenergy efficiency and e-wasteelectromagnetic fields as well as the adaptation of the ICT sector to climate change, amongst others. Furthermore, ITU Telecom World 2014 will organize three sessions touching on similar issues as part of its Smart Cities track: Ubiquitous Communicators, Meshing Networks of Networks and Transforming to a Better Environment.

Challenge 3 is looking for innovative ideas on using ICTs in smart cities to mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the health of the world’s citizens everywhere.

The scope of the challenge is wide: it concerns extreme weather events, the spread of epidemic and endemic diseases, threats to food and water security and air pollution increasing the burden of non-communicable diseases, all the result of climate disruption which is compromising the health and well-being of people around the world. Small island States, developing communities and those living around large cities are on the frontline, increasingly vulnerable to immediate and long-term health risks as a direct result of global warming. There’s an urgent need to reduce human impact on the environment, focusing on preventative public health and a coordinated, multi-disciplinary and creative approach to mitigating the effects of climate change.

The range of possible solutions is also wide: the challenge could be addressed by using cutting-edge technologies, or combining existing technologies, services and systems involved in smart cities. The focus may be on monitoring climate change or mitigating its impact on society; or on using technology to green our communities. Innovations may centre around physical devices such as smart grids, software such as big data analytics or services such as community education.

The rewards for those taking part in the challenge are high. Two winners to join us at ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha, Qatar, from 7 to 10 December, where they’ll be able to pitch to industry leaders, participate in development workshops and mentoring sessions, and win up to USD 5 000 in seed funding. Before that, some of the best ideas will be highlighted at the upcoming WHO conference on Climate Change and Health in Geneva.

We think the best way of working on concepts and ideas for new social start-ups which directly address climate change is by working together, through a process of co-creation. So this challenge comes in three parts, starting with the ideation phase, where you can research, post ideas and discuss smart cities and climate change on our crowdsourcing platform, collaborating in a rich and multi-party creative process. Our expert facilitators will guide your collaboration and provide direction and further ideas. In the collaboration phase, the concepts identified as having the greatest potential will be refined and completed, ready for evaluation. And in the final selection phase, the experts in our Selection Committee will determine the two winners joining us in Doha.

The challenge opened on 8 August, and runs until 7 October. That’s two months to get thinking, discussing, creating and collaborating on concrete, innovative ways to reduce the negative impact of climate change on our health through smart city technologies. Join the conversation now at ideas.itu.int

Regina M. Sipos is the ITU Telecom Young Innovators focal point. Passionate about open innovation, she is primarily responsible for organizing and curating the Young Innovators Programme, functioning within the annual ITU Telecom World event.

Photo by Pedro Lastra

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Young Innovators Competition launches Challenge 3 on Smart Cities and Climate Change

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