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Each quarter, Microsoft gives out an Environmental Sustainability Action Award, along with a donation to an environmental charity of the winner’s choice, in recognition of an employee or team who has shown leadership, exemplifying how Microsoft and its employees can have a positive impact.
Climate change is a serious challenge for our society and for businesses around the world. As a company, we are focused not only on ways for us to reduce the environmental impact of our business, but also on the important business opportunity climate change presents. We believe that climate change is and will continue to drive significant changes in business and society; this is why last week Microsoft joined the growing number of companies who have signed on to the Climate Declaration, a nonpartisan statement from the business community that “tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century.”
Today Microsoft is announcing a public-private collaboration that will deliver low-cost, off-the-grid wireless broadband access to previously unserved locations in rural Kenya—and will do it with the help of solar power.
To deliver broadband to rural locations, the project taps into unused portions of wireless spectrum in the television frequency band—it turns out these so-called “white spaces” are a perfect fit for broadband. Microsoft is delivering broadband access—which will serve a healthcare clinic, schools, a library, and government offices—in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications, Kenyan internet service provider Indigo and U.S.-based wireless startup Adaptrum. The project will provide wireless broadband to more than 6,000 people who currently don’t have online access. It’s all part of a broad effort called the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative unveiled today, which you can read more about here.
While it can be difficult to accurately predict the weather, you can predict and address the impacts of climate change by looking at past and present observational data. As computing power grows exponentially, Big Data is becoming an increasingly important tool for helping scientists predict the long-term impacts of climate change, such as the likelihood of extreme rainfall events. That’s why, in response to President Barack Obama’s Climate Data Initiative announced last summer, Microsoft Research is launching a special Climate Data award program to offer scientists and decision-makers 12 months of free Windows Azure cloud-computing resources. The grants from this program will go to 40 awardees, with each award providing up to 180,000 hours of cloud computing time and 20 terabytes of cloud storage.