When Verizon announced its Powerful Answers Award nearly a year ago, the company challenged innovators, developers and entrepreneurs to create ideas that would leverage Verizon’s cloud, broadband and wireless networks to deliver great solutions and social good. The Award carries with it a total of $10 million in cash prizes and the potential to collaborate with Verizon’s network experts.
More than 1,300 entries, three rounds of judging and lots of great conversation later, the 15 winning ideas were announced last month. On Jan. 8, 2014, the winners in the three categories – healthcare, sustainability and education – will be in Las Vegas at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show as Verizon reveals the prize amounts for each company and the culmination of the Award program.
The winners in the sustainability category feature solutions that will help in the United States as well as in the developing world. They range from a disaster relief and assistance portal, to solutions that make investment in solar and sustainable energy easier, to collaborative consumption in the taxi/transportation industry. Other winners focus on better pest control and management and helping companies manage their waste disposal more effectively and efficiently.
Bandwagon – Bandwagon takes advantage of the growing popularity of collaborative consumption, which is the coordinated, shared use of resources, and applies it to taxi-sharing software for mobile and Web apps. Currently in New York City, hundreds of thousands of taxi trips each day carry with them empty, usable, monetizable seats, and fuel is wasted getting one passenger to their destination when three passengers could have shared portions of the trip. Using a sophisticated back-end server, Bandwagon optimizes, matches and prices rides in real-time as taxis are requested through mobile and Web interfaces, with a focus on providing service at major transportation hubs where long lines for taxis are found.
Good360 – The Givingplace: Disaster Relief Portal from Good360 takes a holistic view of a community’s recovery from disaster by recognizing that it is a long-term process rather than a problem that can be solved in a matter of days, weeks or months. Through the development and launch of a cutting-edge e-commerce and crowd-funding technology, Good360 will implement a portal that utilizes Google Earth to highlight disasters around the world, assist nonprofits working in disaster areas with submitting product needs, and enable donors – corporations and micro-philanthropists – to fulfill these critical needs at the appropriate times. Good360 will use its existing logistical capabilities to deliver goods to designated nonprofits working to get affected communities back up and running.
Mosaic/Abundant Clean Energy By and For the People – Companies that provide mobile-based, pay-as-you-go models for solar power are expanding because they remove the major obstacle for poor people to go solar: the upfront cost. Mosaic is the first online platform for individuals to invest in clean energy projects. After lending more than $4 million to solar projects across the United States, Mosaic plans to take its model to a global level and offer crowd-funded investment to the developing world. These plans are possible because of SMS and mobile banking technology. Mosaic’s international lending program, with an accompanying mobile app, will help finance the transition from kerosene lamps, diesel generators and unsustainably harvested wood directly to clean, renewable power.
Semios – Semiochemicals, also known as pheromones, have been used for more than 25 years in limited areas to manage pests. To enable the much wider adoption of this safe, sustainable means of pest control, SemiosBIO has developed an automated pest management system that integrates pheromone dispensers with camera-enabled pest traps, all connected wirelessly across fields and centrally managed from any online device. The system will deliver a cost-effective, sustainable alternative to pesticides that will offer tremendous applications the world over.
Smartster (Big Belly Solar) – Managing waste is usually not a customer’s core focus, and few business and building operators have the time or inclination to actively monitor waste management activity to adjust their dumpster sizes and collection frequency. Customers are typically at the mercy of their hauling contractors who get paid per pick-up, and who may not always provide the most efficient service. Smartster solves the waste management problem by marrying sensor technology with wireless connectivity to remotely monitor dumpster fullness and collection activity. This solution will introduce needed transparency, accountability and efficiency to a $13 billion industry.
To see the other winners, click here.