Giga Day: A Spotlight on Giga and the Local Tech Ecosystem

With the goal of connecting every school in the world to the Internet by 2030, Giga’s mission starts with mapping school locations. On March 1, Giga held an event to put itself on the map — Giga Day, a gathering to kick off the Giga Technology Centre in Barcelona, now fully operational after a year of preparation, thanks to the generous support of the Government of Spain, Regional Government of Catalonia and the City of Barcelona.

The event, attended by 120 Giga supporters from the public and private sectors, featured high-level speeches, panel discussion and demonstrations of innovative digital solutions to both educational and other social challenges by a dozen local tech entities. Giga Day made it clear that the Giga Technology Centre in Barcelona is not only a hub of expertise in developing cutting-edge open-source technology solutions for school connectivity, but a space for convening the vibrant tech ecosystem in Catalonia and Spain.

The Giga team at the centre will climb to over 20 engineers and data scientists this year. Using blockchain, satellite imagery analysis and AI, the centre will focus on new technological products and co-creation projects in collaboration with local universities, research entities and hi-tech companies.

Along with stepped-up collaboration with the local tech ecosystem, the Giga Technology Centre will soon begin a Government Exchange Programme, hosting government partners from around world to interact with local tech innovators, learn more about Giga products and provide feedback towards product codesign and more effective country deployment.

Left to right: government representatives from Spain (Juan Villar), Catalonia (Meritxell Serret) and Barcelona (Pau Solanilla) spoke on Giga Day.

Juan Villar, Deputy Director-General for Multilateral Organizations in Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, emphasized the value of the project’s multilateralism in his Giga Day remarks.

“We welcome Giga’s innovative, multistakeholder and inclusive approach to a more just and sustainable future,” he said. “We see our support for the initiative as a substantive contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular SDG-4’s call for inclusive and quality education for all.”

Meritxell Serret, Catalan Minister of Foreign Action and European Union, Generalitat of Catalonia, looked forward to a reciprocal role for the Giga Technology Centre in the local tech ecosystem.

“We have a rich technology hub and what we want to do with the Giga Technology Centre is not only to reinforce the Catalan tech ecosystem but for the Catalan ecosystem to help reinforce the Giga project,” she said.

Alex Wong (right), Giga Co-Lead, and Naroa Zurutuza, Giga CTO, provided background on the Giga initiative.

Along with government speakers, Giga Day gathered a panel of experts to discuss the integration of digital technology into educational and other social goals. A common theme here and throughout the day was the need for out-of-the-box thinking to reach ambitious goals like universal school connectivity.

“Public-private collaboration teaches public administrations different ways of thinking. Usually we do things in an old-school mindset,” observed Paula Boet, Policy Advisor, Barcelona City Council. “If we take the approach of Giga — the testing, prototyping, learning, trial-and-error mindset – public administrations can benefit. That’s something we can learn from this kind of collaboration.”

Since 2019, Giga has supported increased access to connectivity for 13,400 schools, benefiting approximately 6.74 million students in 28 countries. Currently, the initiative is actively supporting procurement processes in 10 more countries as it furthers its aim to connect the world’s unconnected schools. 

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