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Net Zero Nations: how civic engagement sits at the heart of climate action

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In the lead up to COP26 this year, we’ll be showcasing each of the Tech For Our Planet startups, selected to showcase their technologies in the green zone in Glasgow. In an interview with Irys’ CEO and Co-Founder, Beto Altamirano, we learn how technology can bridge the gap between city governments and the people they serve to meet climate targets.

1. What is your startup's mission and why did you embark on this venture?

At Irys, our mission is to improve communication and quality of life in communities through the use of technology. Irys was born out of the necessity to solve a personal problem; we wanted to improve the experience of communicating with local governments and increase civic participation. Through working with our first clients and engaging with users in multiple communities, we realized that citizens in all communities, not only cities, lacked a platform to communicate urban challenges and issues with decision makers. We found that these engagement methods were inconvenient and excluded many community members from participating. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to conduct in-person events, revealing a need for safer, contactless methods of communication. We have evolved our efforts and increased the scope of our organization to serve the needs of a wide range of communities - from small towns or transit hubs to statewide government projects and military bases. We are continuously improving our technology tools based on the needs of our clients, users, and impact.

2. What makes your startup stand out from the crowd?

 Though there are other companies that offer community engagement platforms, we believe our solution provides a platform that is easier to use, organized, informative, and comprehensive. In addition to providing a means of communication and information, we aim to make community engagement a more fun and interactive experience. As a social impact driven company, our community engagement efforts go beyond our products. We are closely involved with the communities we serve and support local entrepreneurs and changemakers. We also participate in educational programs and initiatives to increase civic engagement and build sustainable and resilient communities.

 

3. How will your technology help to achieve netzero targets?

The Irys platform facilitates and improves stakeholder and community engagement for climate resilience-related planning, policy, and design decision-making. The Irys platform is currently being used by climate change impacted communities in the USA and UK to provide feedback, support data driven decision making, and implement solutions to lessen and adapt to the impacts of climate change. We aim to scale the Irys platform globally and help communities worldwide achieve net zero carbon emissions.

 

4. What are your plans for the future?

We are working continuously to improve and scale our products and make a positive impact on communities worldwide. In the future, we plan to continue to improve our platform, implementing new features and technologies that will more effectively facilitate climate discussion and allow leaders to make informed decisions to reduce property damages, economic loss, and loss of lives in communities impacted by climate change and aging infrastructure.

5. What do you think is most important about COP26 this year?

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased our attention on the environment, health and well-being of communities around the world. There is a global push to rebuild economies and tackle the climate crisis with job creation in clean energy and technology. Through the Tech for Our Planet program and participation in the COP26 showcase, we will demonstrate how innovative technological solutions are a vital and necessary part of the global climate effort. 

 

6. Advice for CleanTech startup founders?

Our advice for CleanTech startup founders is to never stop innovating and improving your product and business strategy.​​ The key to Irys’ success has been to continually adapt to customer needs, adopt the latest technological trends, and refine our marketing and user outreach strategy. 


Author

Natasha Wren
Head of Communications

Oct 25, 2021